Tag Archives: time management

A Disadvantage to Homeschooling?

While homeschooling offers many opportunities and advantages for students and their families, every once in a while I come across a disadvantage. This week was one of those times.

There is something to be said for the accountability that a traditional classroom affords. While all homeschooling situations are different, with some stricter than others, ours tends to be on the less-strict side. I don’t always feel the need to administer tests if I know the children are learning the information; if the kids are a day or two late completing an assignment, I’d accept it from them just the same. It was helpful to us, then, when we joined a co-op last year; now, for some subjects, my children have someone else to be accountable to, someone who won’t let them “slide” by. It has helped encourage self-discipline and time-management skills.

But this week, I taught a class in which a student just didn’t want to participate. While the rest of the class was working on the assigned project, he just sat there. By the time the other students were finishing up, he had only completed half the project, and he left with it undone.

What’s a homeschooling parent to do? If the parents of this student force their child to attend class, he will be difficult to teach, and it will affect the other students. If they don’t make him go, they will be giving in to his disobedient and rebellious attitude.

Parents of students in a traditional classroom aren’t faced with this type of dilemma; a student must attend class and must do the work in order to make the grade. They may not like math or history, but they must pass those classes in order to make it through school.

Then it occurred to me: while parents with children in school don’t have those issues to contend with, the teachers still do. In one class they may have students who are eager and ready to learn right beside those who won’t do any work at all. Often, teachers can’t move ahead with the material because some students are continually (and intentionally) behind.

As both the parent and teacher, homeschoolers are forced to deal with all sides of the issue, no matter how difficult it might be. But then, isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

School Time

Every family has a different daily rhythm, depending in part on parents’ work schedules, obligations, and outside activities. While I have some friends whose children begin their schoolwork late in the afternoon and go into the evening, my children seems to get the most completed the earlier we start in the day. If I get them up and they start right to work, the younger ones can be finished by lunchtime, and John just has to work through the early afternoon, leaving time for chores, lessons, errands, and play.

That’s a good plan for us — if we followed it. But often, something deters us. Or rather, something deters me.

Sometimes, if my husband has to leave for work early before the children wake up, I find myself enjoying the quiet a little too much. I wait to get them up, using the time to catch up on projects or reading. It’s a productive morning for me, but they get started later, and the school day seems to go on and on. And  if we have errands to do in the afternoon, the kids might still be working on assignments in the evening as well.

I’m thankful for caller ID, but sometimes it can make things more difficult. Though I can avoid morning calls from telemarketers, I also know when family or friends are calling in. Instead of letting the machine pick up the call, I’ll usually try to answer it; after all, it might be an emergency.

Another big distraction for me is the computer. While it’s an invaluable tool for researching assignments, finding worksheets and resources, and connecting with other homeschooling families, “school hours” is not the right time to do it. Though I plan to just “find an activity page” for my first grader, I usually end up checking email and looking around for other resources — in short, spending much longer than I intended, and losing the learning momentum that we started with earlier that day.

The answer? Set a time for school and stick with it. Wake up the children on time, or give them each an alarm clock to set so they’ll wake themselves up on time. Put a message on the phone saying that I’ll be available to take calls after a certain time in the afternoon. Leave the computer off until after all the schoolwork is done; if I need to look something up or find a worksheet, I can make a note of it and do it later in the afternoon. In short, reserve “school time” for school.

How do you keep yourself from getting distracted?

Photo by jppi

Time Management Strategies Part II

h 039With all the busyness of life recently, I haven’t spent as much time reading as I should. It seems a little ironic that I’m too busy to read about time management. 🙂

However, I have read through the planning chapter of The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith. Like the chapters before it, I have found this chapter to be very helpful as I try to get my days more under control. In it, the author provides a sample page from the Franklin Planner, the planning tool he helped create. He describes how he uses the daily pages to keep track of appointments, phone calls, and anything else he needs to remember.

Although I’d love to purchase that planner, it’s really not in our budget at this time, so I decided to make my own planner pages on the computer and make copies for my notebook. As I was doing so, my 13-year-old son came in and said, “Mom, I have so much homework to do for co-op.”

“What do you have to do?” I asked. He answered me with a long list of things he had to finish for his science and geography classes. He also had some scout projects that needed to be completed. That’s when I realized that he needed some planning pages too.

I pulled out some extra copies I had made and sat him down. “Okay,” I began, “this is where you list all the things you have to do. When you’re finished, bring it back to me, and I’ll show you how to prioritize them.” Within fifteen minutes, he had a written list with every assignment and a number by each one, indicating the order in which they needed to be accomplished. Then he got to work.

How easy that was to show him, and what a difference it made! Instead of scattered thoughts of having this and that to do, he had a concrete plan of what needed to be done and how he was going to do it. The day went smoothly, and he finished everything on time.

Having a plan really does work — for all ages!

Writing Opportunities for Kids

Write2Ignite revised2

There are some exciting writing opportunities coming up soon!  Here are a couple of them:

Write2Ignite!

I am already gearing up for the next Write2Ignite! Christian Children’s Writing Conference (www.write2ignite.wordpress.com). It will be held in Greenville, South Carolina in February 2010. And the best part is, it’s not only for adults, but for teens as well!

I have the privilege of being on the planning committee again this year, so I get to find out all the details right away. This time, author Jonathan Friesen will be back to teach the teenagers how to get their stories on paper.

Jonathan’s classes cover a range of topics, including characterization, plot, and emotion. Two of my children attended his classes at the last conference, and they both came away from it inspired to write. That, and they really enjoyed staying in a hotel overnight.

NaNoWriMo

If you enjoy writing fiction, then you’ve probably heard of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Some of my family members and friends participated last year. The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel from start to finish during the month of November. No revising —  just writing, writing, writing.

I don’t think I’ll be trying it this year, as I already have many projects on my plate, but I might just sign up my son John for NaNoWriMo. Students 13 years old and up can participate through the regular site, but they have to stick to the 50,000-word goal. However, there is also a Young Writer’s Program (www.ywp.nanowrimo.org) set up for children 17 and under. Here parents can set the goal for the word count based on the age of the child. After that, the plan is the same — to write and write during the month of November with no revisions at all.

What’s the purpose? To encourage creativity, build confidence, improve writing skills, and teach time management techniques as students work to reach their word-count goal. You know, I just might sign up all my children!

Homework? What’s That?

cohdra100_1473 This week marked our second full week of co-op. Elementary students can sign up for one morning a week of enrichment-type classes, but for middle school and high school students, the co-op follows the university model. Students choose individual classes, attend class one or two days of the week, then work on their assignments at home. So while my younger three might be doing a  science experiment, art project, or PE class, John, who’s in eighth grade this year, is taking Geography and Physical Science. And it’s been a bit of a rough start. 

Each class requires quite a bit of work at home. Homework? We hadn’t used the word very much before this year. John brings home workbook assignments, reading assignments, study questions to answer… all of which he has to turn in to someone else besides me. He has deadlines now; he doesn’t get extra time to complete his work if it’s not done. He takes quizzes and tests just one time – there’s no opportunity to try the problems again. And he’s responsible for writing down his assignments and finishing them in a timely manner. 

How’s it going? Well, he told me he worked on his assignments all week, but the night before they were due, he stayed up two hours past his bedtime trying to finish. He tells me briefly about his current event and lab reports, then tells me he’s not sure when he’s supposed to turn them in. Sometimes he doesn’t even understand the assignment. “Why don’t you ask your teacher?” I ask him, but he just replies, “I don’t know.” 

So do I think these classes are worth it? I’d have to answer with a resounding “Yes!” No matter what grade he receives, he’ll have had an experience that requires he manage his time well, complete a project by a due date, and speak up when he has a question. And from what I’ve seen so far, he’s up to the challenge. He’s beginning to understand what’s expected, and he’s working hard at it. And hopefully next week will go a little better.