Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Without Mom

Twice a year, I leave and go on a retreat. I leave on Thursday and come home on Sunday, leaving the kids to work on their own. Sure, Dad is there, but he is unfamiliar with our books and he has work of his own to do. So, I get the kids prepared to be able to complete their school work on their own.

I'm leaving tomorrow for my semi-annual retreat. Here's how they will handle their school the next two days:

1) I have shown the kids how to start the school bell program that we use. It will ring every 30 minutes. They have 30 minutes to finish their assigned work in each subject. I usually schedule small enough chunks that this isn't a problem. If they don't finish, it becomes "homework." If they finish before time's up, they have free time until the bell rings. They can also use this time to complete any "homework."

2) Each child has a printed schedule telling them which subject to work on for each time period. Some time slots they work on the same thing. Some time slots they have different subjects to avoid them needing the same book at the same time.

3) Each child has an assignment sheet telling them exactly what to do in each subject each day. They should be able to complete all of the assignments, except their spelling test, independently. If they have questions, they can ask each other.

The reason I would have them ask each other for help, rather than Dad, is that some of our curriculum has a specific method used to teach the material. Someone unfamiliar with the method would likely be confused and not be able to answer the question in the way the curriculum would require. For example, our math often teaches things in odd ways. This odd teaching method makes sense, though, if you know the background or where they are going with it. If you just teach it the way you learned it, the worksheets don't make sense. They often have spaces provided for each step of a problem as it is taught by the curriculum. If the lesson was taught using a different method, the spaces won't make any sense and confuse the student. (I'm sure you can figure out how I know this.) Rather than expect my husband to muddle through the unfamiliar teacher's book to try to figure out what is expected of the student, it is easier to just have Sam, who's done it before, show her. In writing, Mika would be the go-to person. She's good at writing and knows what is expected by the curriculum.

What's Dad's job? To give spelling tests, keep them focused on tasks, and answer questions they can't work out themselves. Usually, the kinds of questions they would need his help with are the logic problems or finding the answer to a question in the text in content subjects like science or history.

We've done this enough times to know it works for us.

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