This year I’m doing things just a little bit differently. I absolutely love planning, but once we get into the nitty gritty of school work and we’re three months into our semester, things start to turn hum drum.  You know what I mean?  And when that happens, the first thing I do is take a look at our routine to see if there is anything we should change up, or I take a look at our curriculum to ensure that my kids are getting the most from it.  If we need to make a change we go ahead and plan for an overhaul at the end of the semester.

Last semester we began our test drive with Sonlight.  Well- it isn’t so much a test drive since I am paying the full price for brand, new shiny curriculum.  My box day was absolutely exciting and once we started digging into the material the smell of brand new books brought back my childhood memories of school library days.  (Yes, I was the class book worm and borderline nerd- and just the smell of books-new or old- brings back some great memories.)  So, of course, Sonlight had won me over.

Anyhow- back to my topic.  After a few months of sticking to our Core F schedule, we discovered that we just kept falling behind schedule.    The writing portion of it is great, but my kid needs more than 4 days to write a persuasive essay and it’s just been really hard to keep up.

So we decided not to.  To keep up, that is.

This semester we’re breaking out of the suggested Sonlight schedule and we’re tweaking it to fit our world and reflect some changes I’ve made in our lives (one being that I just relaunched my web coaching business!)  I talked  about how I am balancing being a work at home mom with homeschooling in another post.

We also would like to finish up some materials we purchased two years ago.  My daughter told me that she’s getting tired of working on some of the same stuff we’ve had since we moved to this house (which has been over two years ago) and would really like to move on to the next level in her art book and other subjects.

So, in order to incorporate everything in our Sonlight schedule- PLUS all the material she wants to finish up- we had to make create a master schedule to figure it all out.  It wasn’t such a hard process.  I’ll show you some things we’ve been doing to tweak up our school year.

We started with a flexible mindset.

We’re starting by organizing our life spaces so that it’s convenient for my kids (AND for me and my husband.)

When we discovered that our “classroom” wasn’t getting much use this past semester, I changed up our routine and reconverted our class back in our home office and recording studio.

Hello, office- goodbye, classroom.

As much as we enjoyed having the room dedicated to school activities, we were only using it a small fraction of the time and it ended up being a reservoir for storage.  With my need for a home business office and a place to record my podcasts and quietly talk to clients, it was in our best interest to make the change- for now.

So, into the hallway loft our classroom went.  At the moment we dedicate most of this space for my youngest, plus our bookshelf and materials. (I got the loft idea from Sam’s Noggin.)

After changing up our space I remained open for new ideas about how to rearrange our schedule to fit both homeschooling and maintaining a business at the same time.  Being a WAHM (work at home mom) means I have to really get creative.

For my 6 year old, it would be easy since I only have a few subjects to tackle with her, and we usually take less than 2 hours for school each day.

But for my 6th grader it would require more strategic planning to ensure she accomplishes everything she needs- plus have some free time of her own to enjoy.

I decided to remain as flexible as I possibly could. We didn’t have to cover Sonlight Core F in one academic year, and we didn’t need to finish any of our materials this year.  We can take one week, one month, one semester at a time.

We’re fitting the curriculum around our needs and not vice versa.

Looking at our curriculum I could see that if we kept up our current pace through this year’s Sonlight materials (taking into consideration we take off school for the entire month of December), we will be technically “behind”.  Add to that getting into the swing of thing throughout January and most of February.

But I much prefer to let the sticks fall where they may-so long as we’re learning.  It doesn’t matter much to me if we crammed it all in within 9 months.  Technicalities give me the hives while my kids are still young(ish), and I do realize as they get older there’ll be more deadlines to tinker with but for now- learning is learning in my book.

My daughter, on the other hand, has a completely different view about this.

Like many middle school girls, she’s a high achiever who has a few goals of her own, to say the least.  She’d rather push through and finish up a curriculum set so that she can move on to the next grade level printed on the book. (I shiver just thinking about this because it’s not my style- but hey.) I respect her desire to move quickly through lessons- again, as long as she’s learning.  We’ve had our clashes about our differences of opinion here, but alas, I’ve caved.  If she wishes to forge ahead, I won’t discourage her.  But I wanted her to know that I’m not advocating or pushing for her to set the bar out of reach, just high enough. While I’d rather her relax and enjoy her time, she has the insatiable need for perpetual challenges. So…I’ve let go and allowed her to do so.

We’ve created a new system that has been happening in our home for a few months now.

 

Map It Out

We wrote up everything on a marker board.  Mainly, we asked ourselves:

  • What are the subjects we need to cover this year?
  • When would you like to have this done by?
  • Counting up the chapters and sections of each, about how long do we estimate before finishing?
  • What are some extra things you’d like to accomplish each day (outside of school time?)

Schedule It

After getting an overall view of what we had in front of us, we narrowed it down to a semi-schedule that we still tweak once in a while.

We use our nifty online scheduler with Applecore to keep track of our daily schedule and progress and that’s about it!

Tweak It

Once in a while we go back and tweak our system on those not-so-typical weeks that life brings us, but for the most part we’ve been on the honor system and my daughter has really enjoyed the amount of freedom + the challenge having a schedule to keep her on track brings her.  She feels pretty great that she can stay on top of things on her own and knows that within X amount of time, she’ll complete her math assignments for the entire year.

For me, I feel that the freedom I receive by allowing my daughter the opportunity to create a new schedule for herself is phenomenal and now I can actually devote a bit more time to building my business.

I encourage you (if you’re a WAHM), to begin employing a few strategies to make your homeschooling life more simplified so working from home is doable for you. The kids really do understand and can learn to appreciate the changes it brings.

That’s what’s working for us! I hope you enjoyed this post.

What are some things you are doing schedule-wise in your home?  Any changes you’ve made recently? Organizing that you plan to do differently? I’d love to hear from you.

About Demetria Zinga

Demetria is a homeschooling mom and "mompreneur" who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband, two daughters, and a Shih-Tzu. She currently runs two podcasts for moms, blogs, writes music, and spends lots of time at coffee shops. Her goal is to be an encourager and motivator of women, helping them to find success and joy in homeschooling, business, and motherhood.

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