One of the simple things I do that helps our homeschoolig tremendously is a Student Schedule. I use Homeschool Tracker to make our weekly schedules and manage our school schedules. The program is a hassle to learn to work with, but once you get it, You GET IT. Before using HST+ I used a schedule I made in Excel and just wrote in on Monday what we needed to do. That worked GREAT for years, but now the kids either reuse curriculum (like CLE LA or math), or share (like Science and History) it’s less work for me to use HST. One thing I LOVE about HST is that you can get schedules from other people on a yahoo group, so I rarely end up typing everything in. It’s pretty sweet. Either way though, I fins having a schedule for each kid with their work to be done is a HUGE help.
So – why do I schedule? Well, back in the early days of our homeschooling I totally embraces the “homeschool is life” motto. We’d read, and bake, and explore… It was great. For me. For the kids, once they got old enough to express it, they let me know how frustrating that was for them. They never knew when the school day was over. The goal for them of finishing work and being allowed to run outside was forever changing. If they got their math done quickly – I’d do a second lesson. If we had a slow afternoon, I’d add an art project. These are good things – but they needed their own time. They needed time to explore on their own. To think. To learn to productively fill their own time. To meet a goal.
Enter the schedule. They KNOW what needs to be done. It’s really straightforward, and ironically, we get more done with it. I put everything on it I’d like to see get done, and more times than not everything is done. I stick the art projects, or special things on there, and they get done. As a rule, unless the schedule is obviously flawed (sometimes I still arm wrestle with HST), I have committed to only altering the schedule to reduce the list – not to add. No surprises. No new assignments. It’s great. Monday I print the schedule based on what we got done the previous week, check our schedule for the week for anything weird, and print. Then – the kids take off on it. For us, it’s made things so much smoother!