We are on our fourth year of homeschooling three children. It has been a wild ride and a constantly changing environment. I am often reminded that one of the greatest benefits of home e ducating is the ability to be more fluid with our environment, making changes as needed.
As Bookworm Beauty continues to creep towards high school, I have recognized the value of encouraging more independent learning. It only makes sense. Her educational needs are growing and are vastly different from the two younger elementary siblings. We have tried a few different ways of managing the independent learning and have finally settled on a system that is working well for us all.
As she has become more self-sufficient with her education, Sweetness (3rd grade) has shown great interest in taking control of hers as well. I resisted a little at first and then remembered why we homeschool. We want our children to grow up self-sufficient, able to learn and master new things, and be responsible for themselves. Certainly, her interest was in alignment with all of those reasons, so we gave it a try. I am thrilled to report that they are both moving into a more independent role with their studies and it has given me more freedom to work one on one with The Boy (2nd grade).
How We Do It
We started with a simple week in view calendar. We needed one with ample space to account for a full day. A month in view provided too little space for writing down important activities, lessons, appointments, etc. A day in view calendar provided too much space and took away the ability to see the bigger picture, such as the weekly activities. The week in view was perfect. It allowed space for each day as well as a built in area for tasks.
We sit down at the beginning of the week and go over the activities for the weeks. The girls take our their calendar and list their basketball games, practices, church activities, scheduled play dates or overnighters, as well as any other commitments. Once those are in place, they are able to see what time they would need to get up for that particular day (each has an alarm clock so that mom doesn’t need to be one). That time is written in the first line of the day. This alone has been a wonderful tool for building responsibility! Every night they are able to look at their calendar and set their alarm accordingly. They are also able to see if they need to do anything else to be prepared for the following day such as lay out their clothes.
The next step is to list their lessons for the week in the tasks section. For example, Sweetness wrote Math- 23a, 23b, 23c, 3’s, 4’s. She needs to complete three pages in her math text, take her 3’s multiplication facts test and begin working on her 4’s. They listed expectations for all of their classes as well as 4H, music practice, etc.
Each day the girls are able to look at their day and see where they have time available for completing their schoolwork. They decide what they want to work on first and write it into the day, in real time, as they are completing it. Once it is completed, they go over to the task area and cross that particular assignment off.
I can not possibly share how liberating this system is for us in our home! At any time, I can open one of their calendars and see exactly what they have done and what still remains for the week. This is helpful when they get an unexpected invite to go with a friend somewhere. I am able to see if they have completed enough of their lessons before giving them permission to go. More often than not, they have completed all of their assignments before the week is up, which is a wonderful blessing and gives them the ability to enjoy the fruits of the labor… rest or free time to do what they enjoy the most!