Homeschool Day Planning: Independent Work

Right! I still have parts of our homeschool plan for next year to tell you about!

2013-2014 school year plan

Our 2013-2014 School Year Plans

homeschool independent work

I relied on independent work, with a daily checklist, quite a bit last year out of necessity for the pregnancy/newborn exhaustion I had. It went well, but I’ll lighten up the independent work checklist for several reasons:

  1. I don’t need them busy or all on their own this year, because my energy has returned (at least, enough of it; a full night of sleep would be nice).
  2. Several of the things they did, like filling in blank maps, they learned so well that it would just be busy-work to continue to do them.
  3. Their written narrations from readings will be done during our lessons instead, and will be fewer since we will also be doing a writing class. To do independent written narrations would be overdoing it, I think.

So, here’s the independent work plan:

Daily, before they can be “done” and play, they are responsible for ensuring the following are complete, corrected, and put away:

  1. Their math (if they don’t finish during the morning allotted time, it becomes independent work).
  2. Their piano practice.
  3. Latin practice.

independent work checklists

In addition to that daily work, we’ll outline their week’s work during our Monday Meeting:

  • They’ll pick 2 books to commit to reading that week. I’ll give some direction, but these could be history-related, nature/science, biography, or Good Book. On Fridays, I’ll check in about these and we’ll add them, with a short review, to their goodreads accounts. This constitutes a large part of my History Without Lesson Plans scheme.
  • They’ll tell me what their goal is for typing practice. I’m envisioning either a words-per-minute goal or a “beat the game” type goal; we’ll see as we get into it. We’re going to use Typing Instructor.
  • They’ll be responsible for making sure homework for the writing class I’m teaching and the speech class they’ll be attending and the neighborhood book club is complete. We’ll talk about what that involves at our meetings.

And that’s it. I want them to have time to pursue projects, to read, to play with legos and with friends, and generally to lead a full life that includes doing Real Things. So, I think this is plenty of academic work.

As much as these are areas of knowledge and skill they are developing, I want them also to learn responsibility, time management, and accountability. I want to pass on as much ownership of the process of education to them as they can responsibly handle, and the only way to figure how much that is is by continual trial and error. After all, learning is an act done by the learner, not the teacher, and becoming a “lifelong learner” is only possible if the learner desires it and owns the process.

I’m looking forward to this school year. And that’s good, since we start in three weeks!

2 Responses

  1. Heather M
    |

    I am really enjoying your planning posts and plan to come back to them often to mull and glean and use what I think will work with our family. My question is in regard to creating a home. I am also reading Hidden Art and believe whole heartedly in most things she writes. My question I guess is how does homemaking fit in? Where does it get done? I require chores etc from my boys, but there are things which must be done by me. Where do those fit in? I have a 6 yr, 4 yr, 18 mo and a new baby due in sept. I can’t push a ton of independent work on the 6 yr b/c he is not fluent yet reading. Where do I fit in making bread and keeping a reasonably clean house in. By the way… Cooking from scratch isn’t an option with many food allergies here. I am intrigued by taking a break every 6 weeks. Does that fill in those time gaps? We have really pared down our amount if stuff which helps greatly with house maintenance. Do you have other ideas on how to fit in food prep, house maintenance etc?

    • Mystie Winckler
      |

      Welcome, Heather! I think the answer is that it never does all get done. One area is developed more during a period, then the attention shifts to another, and there’s give and take. It’s never all “figured out” and running on autopilot.

      My two with independent work are 10 & 8. Last year my 7yo did have independent work, but he was an early and a fluent reader who wanted to do what his older brother was doing. My oldest didn’t have independent work until he was 8. If your oldest is 6, then really all the school you need is some math, Circle Time, reading practice, and a variety of read aloud books or audio books. All the rest can wait.

      I think taking a break every six weeks is a sanity saver for me. That’s when I catch up on housework or projects that got ignored, when the kids get long stretches of outdoor time, and when I try to pull out things like the paint or markers. I do most of my big batch cooking on Saturdays: granola, bread, yogurt. And I’ve pared down my cooking so that none of my dinners take more than 30-45 minutes of my time and are made from my master pantry list, so I don’t have to spend brain power on the grocery shopping. We spend about 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a day on housekeeping, and it’s a lot easier and better now that I have older kids who can significantly contribute, and my husband works regular hours and helps out, too. If it doesn’t happen in those times, it might not happen for a few days (or weeks).

      Running a house and homeschooling is a lot of moving parts to coordinate, and you’re right in a significant growth point with all-needy ages and pregnant and tired. I found that stretching times like those increased my capacities, slowly and over time. Hang in there. There is a lot of just coping and adapting that happens in a house full of littles, and there isn’t a perfect formula for getting it all done. Try to write down and prioritize all the “I should” statements that run through your head and pare those down as well as the physical stuff. It’s always a process, and it often feels crazy. :)

      I’ll post how I’m planning on fitting all the pieces into the week soon.