We have been through a number of ‘systems’ to try to manage our homeschool. One one hand I need for them to get things done on the other I like to let them loose to discover on their own. Finding the balance is always a challenge.
Early in the semester thing tend to be a little more laid back and just reading, absorbing material, doing experiments. As we get closer to the portfolio times the requirements change to demonstrating the knowledge that they have learned and that is when the to-do lists become more specific.
The first system is more a time management system called Pomodoro. We have modified it slightly for our homeschool. It should be 25 minutes on and 5 minutes off but we do 30 minutes of works and 10 minutes of break. That gives us four before lunch and then we do another four after an hour long lunch. I like it because if we start late or a break goes long we still do the same amount of time each day. It is also the way that I do my housework and other tasks. So I follow the same schedule.
Last year we tried using a systems from my wife’s work called ‘Agile’. It involved a ridiculous number of sticky notes. Basically they had a number of task that should be able to be completed in one pomodoro written out on these sticky notes. They would pick one off the wall and move it to their desk. When it was complete they moved it to my desk where in theory I would record that it was done. I quickly became buried in sticky notes. It ended up morphing back in to a to-do list with large items that they could work on however they wanted.
I do allow them a lot of flexibility. There are term goals which are effectively the portfolio items. There are a number of things that they must do to get to that portfolio item. They can’t write a essay on a book that they haven’t read for example. The weekly item are to lead up to those portfolio items and in the beginning are quite general. How they work during the day and week are up to them. I have seen them spend all day Monday getting their math out of the way.
Their to-do lists are on their own whiteboards. I just have to make sure things are done to my satisfaction before they cross them off.
It is not a perfect system but then what is. It works for us and that is what is important. The time just before the portfolios are due is always stressful but I think it would be no matter what system we used.
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