This year, we decided to try a whole new kind of schedule. Until now, I’ve created various kinds of lists every year, and they’ve all been fine. I guess I’m a list freak though, and I have this subconscious idea that if I can create the perfect list, we’ll have the perfect homeschooling year. I know it’s silly, but, well, I can’t help myself.

This year, instead of variations on our usual checklist, I’ve gone loopy. Perhaps that’s no surprise after the previous paragraph. I found this idea on the Well-Trained Mind forum, which is full of brilliant homeschoolers seeking and sharing wisdom. Anyway, the idea with a loop is that you have set hours for homeschooling, and no matter how many subjects were done the day before, you start the next day with the next subject. It is brilliant in its simplicity because it allows homeschoolers to actually get to things like art and music rather than neglecting them because time runs out. Maybe you don’t have that problem, but I sure do.

Now, the examples I saw were beautifully simple circles with five or six subjects that would work beautifully for mostly younger families than mine. Ours isn’t so simple, unfortunately, but it is working quite nicely. Each person has a separate list, including my husband and I. For the first time, we’re splitting homeschooling subjects, and we’re both working from home. It’s quite a juggling act, but balls only hit us in the head on occasion. Here’s our schedule as a Powerpoint file:

Loopy Flowchart Individuals 11-09

Each column represents one person, and each smiley face represents one time through the loop per week. There is a separate list that tells teh children what the expectations are for each subject. For math, it’s one math lesson. For writing, it’s 30 minutes, etc.

Some things, like typing, are only done a few times, so when the smiley faces are all filled in, that one gets skipped. The first column is mine and the last one is my husband’s. Those are the subjects that are mostly parent-led. The middle columns go oldest to youngest for our children.

Friday has its own list that includes piano “recitals,” where I determine if they are ready for new songs or not and is generally a much lighter day.

If I had all children ages 10 and below or so, I think I would have just one simple circle leading from one subject to the next, but as it is, I would be worried about my older children getting too far “behind.” Now, that’s a relative term I realize, but I would like my oldest two children to finish the entire biology book in one year. With my 10-year-old, it’s really fine if he takes longer to finish his science book.

With my oldest daughter, I recently switched from having her finish at 3:30 to having her finish when she has completed 5 hours of work. She uses a timer going down to that long and stops it when she takes breaks. It is helping a lot, as she tends to be easily distracted. With everyone else, they are done at 3:30. My 10-year-old is usually completed with the whol week’s work with a day to spare. My 12-year-old usually finishes pretty much all of the list. My 7-year-old rarely finishes all of everything, but we’re working on that. My 4-year-old is 4.

Again, if my children were younger, I would stop at about 1 o’clock instead of 3:30, but I have found that if some children stop sooner than others, they distract the older ones.

Insights anyone?