While I am eating up all the constructive comments happening over at this post (if you have thoughts to add, please don’t be shy!), I thought I’d switch gears tonight and tidy up a few final thoughts on school schedules.
You’ve seen how our schedules appear on paper, and you’ve heard how we manage (and don’t manage!) to fit it all in. In this last post I’ll just give a synopsis of how and why this format works for us.
First of all, Ambleside Online makes scheduling very easy for me. Once I have fleshed out our initial scheduling format at the beginning of the year (what you see below), all I do the rest of the year is change the page numbers on the books listed under Reading. That’s it! And to make things even simpler, Ambleside Online has the book selections parsed out into page chunks on their website, so I literally do not even have to think. I just delete page numbers, and type page numbers. All the other boxes on our schedule remain unchanged.
Now, for the books we substitute from AO’s booklists (or the books we add), I obviously must figure out the page and chapter divisions on my own. But there are so few of these across my three students that it’s hardly a hassle.
How I make our weekly schedule:
I’ve already explained that we divide our charts into Daily Alone, Daily Together, Weekly Alone, Weekly Together, and Reading, now let me draw a picture of how I physically produce our schedules week after week.
On Sunday evenings (or Monday mornings, shhhh!) I pull out my Bible, the children’s completed charts (which they turned in on the previous Friday), the previous week’s schedule template on my laptop, and my printed copies of Ambleside Online’s chart PDFs. (To find the charts on your own for each year, select your student’s year (grade) at the top left of the main curriculum page, and then click on “36 Week Schedule” beneath “Which Version of AO is right for you”. A tiny image of the chart will then appear at the top of the page to which you’re directed, with PDF, DOC and ODT options.)
I’m ready now to tackle this thing. My first task is to glance through the previous week’s completed charts to see what bubbles were missed and then make a mental note to roll the uncompleted assignments on to the new week’s schedule. I then take my Bible and, after a quick perusal through the passages the boys have already read, assign five new readings. This in an area in which we deviate from AO, and it has quickly become my favorite scheduling duty.
After typing in the Bible assignments, I go through AO’s PDF, erasing in my own schedules the completed chapters and pages, replacing them with the new. I add or take away bubbles beside a book’s name depending on how many pages that particular book has scheduled for the week–I try to keep one bubble per reading of the book, and some books need more than one reading. This is guess work for me, though. I add a reasonable amount of bubbles but my sons know to divide their readings based upon natural breaking points; if I put too many bubbles, they simply will fill in the leftover bubbles when they’ve completed their assigned pages. I don’t take the time to actually look through every book myself on a weekly basis, so this approach is low maintenance for me, and seems to work fine for them.
When the reading section is ready I move on to the other boxes on our schedule, glancing through the lists to see if any changes need made. Generally they are fine as they are. I then swing to the top of the page, type in the new week number, and print.
That’s it. The hardest leg-work of the week is done. It takes me about an hour to do all three schedules (and this is because I get IDEAS! and go on RABBIT TRAILS! and look at FACEBOOK! and…). But because I’ve taken this hour, my week will begin on a focused note. If I do not do this, I will start out Monday morning with a good book in bed and an idea around 10 AM to make pancakes, and we will never get anything accomplished. Not that there’s anything wrong with pancakes. It’s just…well, better, if I can make it at least until Thursday before breaking all my rules.
How the kids use the charts:
On Monday mornings the kids read through their schedules. My Year Three and Year Five students count up all the bubbles on their reading list, and divide them over the course of the week so that they know how many readings to do each day. Because of the bubble discrepancy mentioned above, chances are they will have bonus days where readings will not take as many bubbles as scheduled and they will finish early. They make a game of predicting these discrepancies, and so far they’ve nearly always been correct.
The rest of the week is pretty self explanatory. The kids do an assignment, and fill in the bubble. At the end of each day they must check in with me before they are free from school. During the course of the week, they keep their own schedules in their school binder, turning them in to yours truly on Friday afternoons. In this way, our school schedules serve as our school records (which we are not required by law in our state to keep) as well as keep us all on task.
Why this works for us:
Having a written schedule transfers the burden of task-keeping from the mama to the child. The child is in charge of filling in his bubbles. A written schedule also takes on its own authority, becoming a law unto itself, thus greatly easing the mother’s load.
I am at the point where I need to have things written down. With three students and a mind that loves to wander, a schedule is imperative if we are going to ever get anywhere in this schooling journey. But that said, the reason I love this format so much is its provision for flexibility. Nothing is locked into time. In fact, nothing is really even locked into days. We can move things around, switch things up, ignore something all together–or even add something on a whim. The schedules are our servants, as mentioned before, not our masters. And they really serve us well!
- Read part 1: intro to the charts
- Read part 2: explanation of how I make and use the charts: and a reminder than the charts are TOOLS
- Read: how we do first grade