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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Multi-Level Teaching Tip: Let them Awake on Their Own

I know that some homeschools thrive on precision scheduling, but we don’t. Try as I might, I can never fit anything into a tidy little slot, it always seems to spill out over every thing else and ruin our momentum. Reading invariably takes more or less time than I anticipate and the math turns out to be harder or easier, you get my drift.

So we simply move onto the next thing when we finish the previous thing.

You won’t find neatly penciled in grids with math assignments for the next 3 weeks, or even the next 3 days. Invariably, when I try to schedule it all out past a day or so, something happens and I end up doing a lot of erasing. Our notebooks tend to be a record of what we actually did, rather than what we plan to do.

We do have some juggling during the day. With 3 “school” age kids at very different skill levels, each doing a different math program, each doing different language arts, I have to find time to work with each of them individually at some point each day. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but generally it meshes pretty well (as long as I don’t find myself glued to the computer researching next year’s history program, ahem).

We trade off, one kid works on some independent work while I work with another, and they each have “go to” activities they can do if they are otherwise unoccupied.

But something that I used to have trouble with was working in Peter’s 1st grader’s work, because there’s so much for him to do each day, between learning to read, spell, do math, and work on his speech. And he wouldn’t mind just drawing all day, he’s not exactly begging me do to work with him.

So this is an area where our allowing the children to wake up when their body clocks tell them to wake up (instead of on a strict schedule) works for us. Peter is an early riser and as long as I can get myself in gear, we can actually finish all his “Mommy and Me” work before the other kiddos even come downstairs. The added bonus is that it’s quiet and distraction free.

I suppose someone out there is horrified that I’d let my kids sleep in a bit. Eh, you know what? I had to get up early every morning when I was in high school to make it to the bus stop on time and to work early mornings on the weekend. Didn’t make it any easier for me to get up early as an adult…I’m still not a morning person. I still have a very hard time getting up early. I would rather that Peter slept another hour, actually.

There are times when fitting into a schedule is important and then other times when it’s not so important. Learning can happen anytime at our house, I’m not a slave to busing schedules or class bells. I find that my children are on a more even keel when they get enough sleep and when that sleep fits their natural rhythms. They’ll have plenty of time “training” themselves to get up at a particular time when it’s important for them. Just my opinion.

What little tricks do you have for getting individual work done with your kiddos?

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