Trail Map

How homeschoolers map out their day is almost as varied as the methods that they use. Below I detail two plans. First is the one that my current 3rd and 6th graders and I use. After that I give some ideas of things that I did when I had five children in our school and a sixth severely handicapped and medically fragile child in the home.

A Week in Our Life: No, we do not follow the times, but this will give you an idea of how much time we spend per subject. Starting with math is the only sure thing. After that, the girls are generally free to choose the order of subjects that they are in the mood to follow for the day. Afternoon project times usually tend to last much longer than I state here. They sometimes to take a break from their project to do their music practice and then come back to their project until we have to call a halt for after school activities.

Monday-Thursday and non-co-op Friday mornings
0745-0800: Scripture study
0800-0900: Math
0900-0930: Literature reading
0930-0950: Spelling/vocabulary (I do spelling with one while the other does their vocabulary.)
0950-1000: Break
1000-1030: Grammar
1030-1045: Vocabulary/spelling
1045-1130: Writing
1130-1230: History
1230-1310: Lunch

Monday, Wednesday, & non-co-op Friday afternoons
1310-1400: Applied science
1400-1430: Music time
Tuesday & Thursday Afternoons
1310-1400: Project time
1400-1430: Music time

Friday (co-op days)
0900-1330: Anchorage Homeschool Co-op

Making it work with more than a couple kids:

In the heyday of our homeschool, I was schooling five kiddos in four grades (we have twins in the middle) and had our second child, who while not in our school, was severely medically fragile and physically handicapped.

Three things helped immensely in those days:
1) Schedule teacher time with each kiddo
2) Vary book work with discussion work
3) Combine as many things as possible

Schedule teacher time with each kiddo:
Steve and Teri Maxwell's book, Managers of Their Homes, provides an excellent system, including a versatile and easily modified wall chart system, for helping busy homeschool moms to organize their lives. Their book was great for me. It is very Christian family oriented, but their system alone makes the book worth purchasing, even if you do not share their religious leanings.

Our biggest problem was that all the kids seemed to need me, the computers, or the piano all at the same time. Make sure that you are the first one whose time you chart, specifying who is working with you, then build the others' schedules, ensuring that computer and instrument time is not overlapping.

Vary book work with discussion work:
Teri wrote another book, Managers of Their Schools, which I did not like as much, because we have very different philosophies. Teri and Steve found that what helped them was for their children to use all text books, and their book gives the reasons why they felt that worked in their school. Since my philosophy is for our school to be centered around whole, living books and discussion (Socratic Method), I did not find this book very useful. My blog is dedicated to showing how to school using a Socratic, whole book method.

This can be a challenge when you have a large family across a broad grade spectrum. Three years ago, we had our youngest in Kindergarten and our oldest was in twelfth grade. For me the answer was to alternate work they could accomplish independently with work that they needed me to do with them. We used Steve and Teri's scheduling system and made sure that everyone had something they could work on by themselves during those times that I was doing discussion work with others. Workbooks and texts are not the only things kids can do on their own. Because it is obvious that they only need to pick up the book and do the next page, lesson, chapter, etc., many large families choose this method, but it is my hope that as our blog grows, you will get a feel for how to use our whole book, creative, and exploratory method, no matter the size of your family.

Combine as many things as possible:
Whenever possible, combine your kiddos into groups and teach them together. Simply have higher expectations and layer on slightly more complicated assignments as the kids' abilities increase. In addition, make everything count by having assignments cross over. Just today, Reagan asked me whether we were doing history, science, or writing. The assignment was to create a keyword outline using a passage from a book we have about science in ancient Egypt and then rewrite the passage in their own words. Whenever possible, our assignments interweave. Art, music, literature, and geography always tie in with what we are studying in history. We also discuss inventions and scientists when they match up chronologically with our history studies. Usually, but not always, our applied science (experiments and projects) stems from what the inventors and scientists were renowned for.

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