Saturday, September 19, 2015

How We Picked Our Schedule

So I've gotten some questions about how we figured out what our schedule would be, and I figured that kind of needs a blog post all it's own. So here it is.

There were a few factors I took into consideration when I decided how many lessons I was shooting for in a week.

1. How much time during the week do we have for lessons?

Like many special needs families, we have an extensive therapy and activity schedule to work around. We also deal with the fact that because of low tone and attention issues (not to mention her age), Elanor gets tired and distracted easily and needs a lot of breaks. She is not at a place where she can work for more than 30 minutes at a time, and when she does she needs at least a 30 minute break. This means that we really aren't able to complete 5 lessons in a week the way one might at a typical preschool or with a typical preschooler, so we have to adjust our schedule accordingly. 

2. How many lessons are there to complete?

If you use a boxed all-in-one curriculum like Calvert or Sonlight then it probably has a set number of lessons. You complete all of those and then you're done. So for instance Calvert had 160 lessons. That schedule was easy to set up because I just had to divide 160 by the number of lessons a week to come up with how many weeks it might take. Our schedule this year is a little trickier because curriculum we bought has a different number of lessons.

The All About Reading Pre-Reading Program has 78 lessons. Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book has slightly fewer than 90 pages. Singapore Math Kindergarten has by far the most lessons, at around 150. I had to consider this when setting up the schedule, because I wanted to

3. What kind of schedule will we keep throughout the year?

Some people like to keep with the public school schedule and take a long break in the summer. I can absolutely see why you would want to do that, but I'm just not into it. My kid thrives on routine and I don't think it makes sense to create a new one for two or three months of every year. Plus, kids can forget a lot during the summer break, and if I school year round I don't have to pack as much into every week. Schooling year round also allows us to take random shorter breaks (like for a week or two) rather than just one longer one.

4. How many weeks do we want the year to take?

So because we aren't taking off for the summer, I'm okay with the our curriculum taking a bit longer than the usual school year of 36 weeks. I also am a homeschooler, so I don't actually need everything to fit perfectly into one year. We are free from grade and age restrictions and I could choose to school very fluidly if I want. Basically, I would like it to take a reasonable amount of time but I don't have strict ideas about how long it needs to be.

So what did we decide?

Taking into account these various factors, we decided to do 3 lessons a week for math, handwriting, and reading. This means that we will probably finish handwriting and reading earlier than math (after less than 30 weeks of instruction), but this is okay with me because the math curriculum is kindergarten level, so if it hangs over into the next year it's not a big deal. We could also just go right on and purchase the next levels of reading and handwriting, with no strict demarcation between one year/grade and the next. 

The cool thing about homeschooling is that there are no hard and fast rules. I can change our schedule at any time and for any reason. Maybe I'll find that this schedule is too tough, or that we can handle more. Bam, I can change it. But I think having a plan in the beginning is good, and this is ours. 

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