I have been very hesitant to share my particular way of scheduling our week, but I’ve had so many people ask to see it, that I thought I would just go ahead. This is me caving in. 😉
What you need to keep in mind, is that we are all going to organize our life differently. My closet has shirts, pants, underclothes, dresses, and such, just like yours, but we will organize them differently. My way isn’t better, it’s just what works for me.
In my video Merging Forms to Create Your Own Schedule, I show how I create my weekly schedule. You can fast-forward it to about the 10 minute mark to see it. That schedule rules our week. How we then use it, is something that has changed each year.
I like my system this year better than any of the past, so I will start there. I always put one of our art prints in the outside cover of my 3-ring binder, once we have studied it. Because I coordinate our picture study with the time period we are studying in history, it is representative of the time period are in that year.
Inside I have dividers so I can keep other materials close at hand. Like the words to our folksongs, memorization work, maps that we will mark up or just small maps that we can quickly look at, a list of the words we have learned in a foreign language, notes to myself regarding various subjects, and the list of books we have checked out from the library this year.
I use double sided tape to attach a packet of sticky tabs inside the cover. These little guys are my favorite bookmarks. They don’t fall out of books, causing us to lose our place, but they do not damage the pages either.
The first divider keeps my weekly schedule. This is the template I use to keep us on track. I check things off as we finish them, and I print out a new template each week. Below is a closer look, but remember, this is my schedule, and it will not look the same as yours. I am only showing it, so that you can see that I have my topics in their spots and below each topic I noted what books everyone is reading. (Actually, I have removed some of that information here, because this post isn’t about what books I use, but you can see where I intend to put things in.) I shouldn’t need to change this from week to week, unless we finish a book. If you look close enough, you will see that I have several month’s hymns listed at the top. We will only sing the hymn scheduled for the month we are in, but this way I don’t have to make changes to my schedule because the calendar month changes. Same thing with picture study.
I do note on this sheet how far everyone got in each book. Then if a bookmark is lost for some reason, I can look back at last week’s schedule to be reminded where we left off. Also, by writing down how far everyone got, I can see when there is a break down. For example, if one child seems to be managing 5 pages in a certain book each week, but this week he only managed 2, then I know something went wrong. Maybe he was distracted by something or was not giving his best effort. I am informed this way, but the schedule is still ruling our day, rather than me forcing this child to read 5 pages, when maybe the distraction was legitimate, and now the child is spending double the amount of time on this subject. Clear as mud, I know.
Sometimes I’m colorful about the whole thing, and sometimes I save money and stick to black and white. Frankly, the color helped me at first, because there is a learning curve for some of us where keeping to a schedule is concerned. Now that I’m more comfortable with the whole thing, I don’t need it.
For those of you who are technically inclined I will tell you how I have done it in the past. (The rest of you close your ears and eyes.) I created an Excel spreadsheet with each subject that is on my final schedule across the top, and weeks 1-36 down the side. I populated this with my book selections and any other relative information. I then used this spreadsheet to do a mail merge into a Word document. The Word doc had my schedule listed out, for example, Monday – 30 minutes American History, and then my spreadsheet entered the book.
The problem with this method is that it is tempting to write, “book x, chapter 1” in a cell, instead of just “book x”. We run the risk of letting the pages rule again, instead of the schedule ruling. Another problem is that each Sunday night I had to sit down and update the spreadsheet before doing the mail merge and printing it out. To be frank, I don’t recommend this method, and have myself tried to move to a system that uses less nitpicking.
If you are technically inclined, you will understand what all of that meant, and having the opportunity to be techy while making your schedule will be an outlet for you. If you aren’t, then know that I will not answer questions about how it works. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just that I really don’t think it’s the best way to do it.
With my new system, I have the layout, and I’ve noted the books and other selections, but I don’t have to be a slave to updating it.
I hope this is helpful, and that you will find a system that works for you. Wasn’t there a TV nanny that posted the schedule on the wall using a piece of poster board. There’s not “right way” to do this – use what works for you.
One last note. The schedule is not a secret to be kept from your kids. As they learn the schedule, they will relax into it. However, it will take time for them to learn the rhythm. Kids tend to want to blow through a list, marking things off as DONE! but we want them to learn the art of spending focused time on one thing, before moving to the next. That is one of the reason why doing a good portion of school together each morning is important. They are learning this rhythm when we work together. Over the years I have noticed a considerable difference in how my kids approach a school day by using this method.
I hope this helps rather than giving you a new yoke to wear. Remember, it has to suit you!