I’ve had people ask me how I manage to teach six children with so many different needs and levels of learning taking place. I honestly have been thinking on this for the last couple of days as I’ve worked on putting this on virtual paper.
I do not have a schedule laid out minute by minute. I have tried that, but I’m going to be honest in saying it just doesn’t work. And that stressed this Type-A person out, so I threw it out … literally … one day.
Instead of a schedule every half hour all day long, I have blocks of time I try to adhere to and some may be of surprise to some readers. I actually do include play-based learning as part of our school. I also include ME time during the school day, because otherwise I just can’t always be the best at teaching all of these children. When I say ME time, I mean I’m at my computer and/or working at my desk/laminater/etc. but STILL AVAILABLE for our learners. This ME time is never uninterrupted, and that is just fine!
So, I decided I really needed to go one step further and create schedules that I can post above my desk (and on the mirror and perhaps as a mini version on my forehead!).
A few more notes:
• No day ever goes completely the same here. I expect the unexpected.
• It is not uncommon for me to be surrounded by multiple learners on the floor … reading to some, being available to another who is finishing up an interactive math lesson after teaching time on the concept, cuddling another and still encouraging another to move on to his/her next task.
• I have more non-typical learners in my classroom than typical. Definitely keeps things interesting.
• We use multiple avenues for learning: textbooks, one-on-one teacher instruction, centers, tutorial classes and the homework associated with that, computer-based programs, and a huge library of rich, living texts as well as reading of their choosing with guidance from the Prez and myself.
• In the schedules above I have used numbers for students by chronological age, because I don’t use names on the blog and it made the charts fit nicely. 😀
• My oldest three really do most of their work independently, but I’m always available to guide and I check in with them daily on their work completed and/or work they need guidance on to complete.
• My husband or I spends 30-45 minutes a week one-on-one with our three oldest (Mondays with Curly, Tuesdays with Larry, Wednesdays with Mo) for math instruction. This is a non-negotiable and yes, I have to purposefully and sometimes dutifully do it but it is important and so we make it work. New this year: trying interactive notebook entries with our middle schoolers (I really do want these notebooks to serve as a reference tool; one has really taken to it while the other rebels but that is not atypical behavior so no real surprise unfortunately).
• I spend at least 3 times a week going over a basic math concept with our 2nd graders. I mix it up and always keep it active. I really need to get them drilling what they know more, but I am working on fitting that in to our days. It is a weak spot I will admit it.
• We are trying a tutorial on Thursdays for the first time since we began homeschooling 5 years ago. So far it is working, but it does alter the schedule and we’re still getting used to it. We just started 2 weeks ago, and all five of my school-age children are attending in grade-level classes (I will expand more on specifics in another post about their curriculum for this year). It is a bit chaotic getting all 7 of us out the door by 7:45 one morning a week, but it is doable and we are doing it!
• On Fridays, we attend Community Bible Study, and Bible is one of our school subjects so this fits nicely with that. It is in-depth and leveled by age/grade as well. I have committed to leading in a Children’s Class this year, so we have to arrive early and stay late. The children will be in a quiet study hall the first 2 hours (well 1 hour for the 2nd graders then 1 hour of structured play), then they go to their regular classes for 2 hours, then 1 more hour for lunch and board games and such for them while I finish in leadership. We shall see how this goes, but we never got much else done on Fridays anyway, and God invited me to take part in this so I decided to go out on a limb with Him on this one!
• I have learned that by 2:30 or so, any textbook-style learning for our youngest four is probably mostly done. I do try to spend the hour from 2:30-3:30 encouraging individual reading and/or reading aloud with younger three (me reading to them and them reading as well). We also often go outside during this time and natural learning discoveries are often followed as curiosity takes over.
• I have also learned over the years of homeschooling that almost anything can be defined as learning and it is almost always appropriate to follow the natural interests and pursuits of young minds. Obviously, this doesn’t preclude our learning goals but I have found it is easier to take five minutes to “chase that rabbit” than to squelch a child’s natural curiosities.
• I have a three-year-old who is EXTREMELY bright, but I am really struggling with getting her to do tot school. I know I post pictures like these and they are not staged, but I just don’t take pictures when she is not doing her tray activities and is disruptive, which at this point is multiple times a day. Some naysayers may wonder how do the other learners get things done to which I will just say that they are going to face distractions in most any classroom and very much so throughout life in work environments as well as home. So we call it training for life around here!
I am just being honest, so yes, at this time, she often disrupts our day. I have just been honest with our five school-aged students and encouraged them to not encourage Li’l Bit’s disruptions by giving her attention when she is doing this.
I know it is just going to take more time, and so we will just keep redirecting and providing her opportunities to learn through tot school exploration. In the meantime, I will NOT use the TV for a babysitter (repeating to myself sometimes multiple times a day).
• We have two Mac ProBook laptops just alike (one was gifted to us by my father-in-law who just “didn’t like using it”), one very old iMac (14 years old and still works for word processing and internet stuff), and a slightly older intel Mac. It seems like a lot to have 4 computers, but honestly my laptop is just that … mine and I rarely let them use it for various reasons.
So between my six learners, I have three computers. We don’t have a designated time for use for certain students, but I have thought of setting up computer block times and I may have to do it … still thinking through that.
Well that about sums it up! I don’t know if that explains anymore how we do it, but I hope it does. I hope to write up another post explaining our schoolroom set-up in more detail. I am still fleshing this out though as we’ve now used the room officially for 3 weeks. I see some adjustments that need to be made though nothing major thankfully.
If anyone reading has any questions or suggestions, please ask or share away!
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Today’s Tip: OK, I saw it on pinterest first, but seriously y’all, 24 crayons really do fit PERFECTLY into a Hu*ggies travel-size wipe container! And right now, our Tarjay has the 24 packs of Cray*ola for 50 cents. I want two more (and some wipe containers too please!). What is NOT to love?