Have you ever stumbled into that one thing so obvious that you wonder how you overlooked it for so long? I admit that I have done that often, for I seem to be inclined to make things a little too complicated from time to time.
This school year, I was determined to get more done in our days– and to be better at balancing teaching and discipling with the other ministries God has allowed us to be a part of. As I prayed fervently for wisdom and direction for my days, God reminded me of something I have often told new homeschool moms– you need to set up your homeschool and curriculum choices in a way that you as the teacher are comfortable with, taking into account the bent of your children, of course. Ultimately, though, if a system or curriculum doesn’t work for mama, it probably won’t be a success in your homeschool.
This particular mama craves order. I like schedules. I like lists. The last couple of years, though, as our children have gotten older and our lives have gotten busier, order and discipline have taken a big hit. Teaching 4 children and participating in as many different ministries and outreaches as God has called us to doesn’t allow for chaos if we are going to be successful at anything.
Last school year was really difficult for our family, quite frankly. As our children have grown and the Lord has blessed the work of our hands, I have found myself overwhelmed more often than not and very slow to respond to the needs and changes happening all around me. My children are all getting older, and they struggled last year in an environment that was chaotic at best. God is a God of order, and our homeschool seemed to reflect anything but order. I knew we had to change.
Block Schedule and Google Calendar
We have four children. Our boys have the seemingly supernatural ability to fritter time away. Left unchecked, in fact, they could easily work on a single subject for the entire day– and accomplish little. (Believe me, it is happened!) I am convinced that boys have no sense of time whatsoever. I have another child who is an escape artist. The minute I get distracted, she finds her way to greener pastures, knowing that it may be quite a while before I will get back to her again.
For me to keep our family on schedule each day, I needed to have more order to my hours, so I set up a Google Calendar specifically for my school day. Each hour is noted as a class hour for each child. For example, on non-co-op days, first hour is history class, which we do all together, but second hour has an assigned class for each specific child. This schedule allows me to spend time teaching my youngest (the escape artist) while my older ones do classes that they can handle independently in the mornings. Then later in the day, I spend time with the older children while my youngest finishes up, plays or reads.
Although I had a plan for each specific hour, I was still losing track of time. To help with that issue, I downloaded the Schedule Planner App. This app syncs with my Google calendar and gives me an alert when it is time to change classes. Each hour, I get a message on my phone to remind me to move everyone along in their schedule. This keeps all of us from losing track of time, spending way too much time on any given project to the neglect of others, and frittering our days away.
For our family, the accountability of the class hours has been great, but we do not stick to them completely. As homeschoolers, we still have the flexibility to keep working if we are close to finishing something or to move on early if we finish an assignment in less than an hour. The class hours are really good guidelines for us, though, and have been a good motivation for my older children to work efficiently knowing that any work they do not complete during the school day moves into the evening hours. Please remember, too, that I am now teaching primarily middle school and high school. Most younger classes would not take a full hour. For my teenagers, though, their work does take about that long per subject. You would want to set up your block schedule appropriate to your children.
We are still early in the year, but this has already proven to be a huge homeschool victory for our family! School work is being done better, grades are higher, frustrations with each other are lower, and we are accomplishing so much more. What could possibly be better from a homeschool standpoint?
Have you had a Homeschool Victory this year? We want to help you celebrate those– and we want to share them with others. Share them in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag #homeschoolvictory. Let’s cheer for each other’s successes!!
Does a block schedule seem like a terrible idea to you, but you still feel like you need to work on the organization in your own homeschool? Click here to get a free workshop about finding your perfect homeschool schedule. We are sure it will be a huge help to you!