Being FLEXuled: Balancing Being Flexible and Scheduled

Guest post by Jennifer of Dear Homeschooler.

 

Dear Homeschooler,

FLEXuldedAre you the hyper-organized type, planning every minute of every school day? Or are you a go-with-the-flow kind of person, harvesting precious teaching moments whenever they arise?

I admit, I tend toward the former. Anyone who knows me at all is not surprised: I like planning, organizing, and assessing, and that comes across in my approach to teaching. However, having been a special education teacher, I also understand the importance of being aware of the needs of my students and adjusting my teaching methodologies (and timetable) if it is in their best interest.

The beauty of homeschooling is that we get to choose how teach. Some of us are super scheduled, and others of us are super flexible, but we have one thing in common: we want what’s best for our students. I believe there is value in both approaches:

Reasons to be Scheduled:

  • Being scheduled helps us to stay on-track during the day to make sure all our daily lessons get completed.
  • Being scheduled provides a well-rounded day, making sure that an appropriate amount of time is devoted to each subject.
  • Being scheduled helps us meet our goals (e.g. finishing curriculum, attendance days, etc.).
  • Being scheduled provides a routine for both students and teachers, so each one knows what lessons are coming and when lessons are finished.
  • Being scheduled ensures that the school work doesn’t drag on, guaranteeing true free time after lessons are completed.

Reasons to be Flexible:

  • Being flexible allows us to take advantage of spontaneous learning opportunities.
  • Being flexible gives us the ability to nurture our student’s interests for the sake of engagement and learning.
  • Being flexible allows us as teachers to devote more time to challenging lessons to ensure skill acquisition.
  • Being flexible with the time-table, adding breaks when needed, may increase our student’s ability to stay more focused in the long run.

So, it is in the best interest of our students to be FLEXuled: both flexible and scheduled in our school day.

How do we do this?

I know it sounds like having a snowball fight in the summer, but it can be done:

  1. Plan: Create and map lessons per your curriculum choices.
  2. Make a schedule: This can be as detailed as delineating every school minute into subject blocks or as informal as having a checklist of tasks or lessons that need to be completed each day.
  3. Watch for the signs: Pay attention to your student’s responses to instruction. Watch for signs of boredom, wiggles, high-engagement, attitude-changes, resistance, and frustration, to name a few.
  4. Be Flexible: STOP and respond to your student’s needs. Take a break. Incorporate a sensory/movement aspect to the lesson. Spend more time on a challenging lesson. Fast-track a lesson that they acquire quickly. Dig deeper into lessons that capture your student’s interest. The list of interventions is endless.
  5. Adjust schedule: Take a moment to readjust the schedule. You may have to have a shorter or longer school day or reschedule certain lessons to later in the week, but it is worth it!

We can be FLEXuled!

As I mentioned earlier, I am a super scheduler. I remember a particular instance last year. I had allotted 10 minutes for our daily spelling drill, which has proven to be an adequate amount of time. My son, “ZooKid”, who is a pretty good speller, was struggling one week completing this activity in 30 minutes. WHAT??? How long does it take to write 10 words? He was distracted and had a bad attitude. After 3 days of this, I realized (finally!) that he was bored. I had to find ways to increase his engagement in spelling. Some of my ideas fit in the time-frame I had allotted (window markers, themed drill pages, etc.), but some (using alphabet beads, letter magnets, stamps, etc.) took longer. Incorporating these activities into spelling was the best solution for ZooKid. He loved spelling class again and was now focused and had a great attitude. I had to make adjustments for this intervention, but we were better off for it.

So, I believe we can be both organized and free-spirited in our teaching, creating the perfect balance between structure and creativity in our attempt to meet all our student’s needs. I’d love to hear about your experiences of being FLEXuled or your plans to be FLEXuled!

Till Next Time,

Jennifer

 

 

About the Author

profileJennifer Myers is a wife, mother of two beautiful children, and Christian home educator. She worked for 5 years in the public system as a special education teacher in an intensive program for students with autism. When her own kids started school, she decided to homeschool them, applying her experience in creating personalized education plans, curriculum development, teaching methodologies, and interventions. Realizing not all home educators have the same educational background, Jennifer is dedicated to sharing her experiences and building a community of home educators to grow together through her blog Dear Homeschooler. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

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Caught in a Cycle?

I’ve been reading Charlotte Mason’s School Education, and today’s reading was over Authority and Docility. Arbitrariness is often stuck in with both authority and docility. Those in authority sometimes demand those under them to do this or that, “because I said so.”  Or those who follow can also unintentionally be arbitrary followers; they do not think about what it is they are doing, they just do it. A homeschool challenge we may face is to get caught in a cycle.

What exactly is ‘arbitrary’? Googling came up with this definition: based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system; (of power or a ruling body) unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority.

I heard “Because I said so!” a lot growing up. That was THE answer for “why?” I’ll generalize a bit here before I eventually get to the gist of my post: Homeschooling families do not arbitrarily send their kids to the public schools because society says that is what they are to do. I do not assume that those same families do it out of spite either. They think about what they are told to do, what options they have for following, and they make a choice.

Even though we homeschool we can still find ourselves caught in an arbitrary cycle.

Before we actually started homeschooling I had some fixed notions about what we’d look like as a homeschooling family. Why? Because that is what all homeschoolers did/looked like! It was simply not based on solid reasoning or fact, that’s for sure. But even if one realizes that not all homeschoolers will be the same, it can be easy to fall into ‘following the homeschool crowd’.

There are plenty of ways we end up following such a cycle. Take for instance, the somewhat recent push for STEM in education. There is arguably a good basis for why the department of education would want this to be advanced: We live with a global economy that relies on advancing technology therefore it is necessary to produce citizens who excel in these fields, to perpetuate the United States as a super power.

It doesn’t seem arbitrary, does it? But, what if doing so eliminates other subject areas that may foster a more well-rounded citizen that will be able to not only work with and advance these technologies but also have personal relationships with those they interact with? What if we as homeschoolers search out activities and education opportunities for ourselves and our family that the homeschooling community, or society in general, says are important that cause us to have less time for each other, or to sacrifice our values or beliefs?

Perhaps these scenarios do not exactly fit with ‘arbitrary’ but going along with them just because that’s what someone {or a group} says we’re supposed to do is, I think. We follow one in spite of the other. How do we get out of such a cycle?

  • We need to understand why we are doing what we are doing.

Do you have a philosophy of education? If not, it’s really a good idea to put some thought on this. I did not have one for a long time and we were blown every which way for a while because of not having that foundation to start. What is the end goal? What is the ultimate purpose?

When it comes to the sports activities, music classes/lessons, or other ‘educational’ endeavors, how will they fulfill the goal that we have set for our family?

  • Cut the things we don’t need. {No matter what someone else says*.}

Perhaps there is a group or class opening up that many are saying is THE class/lesson you need to get your kids prepared for college, but it conflicts with another activity that your family feels is imperative to fulfilling the goals you’ve set. Find a different day/time to do it, or simply don’t do it.

This includes technology, the latest-and-greatest gizmos and gadgets, and apps. Is it ‘educational’ but your kids are edgy or cranky afterward? Does it help them master math problems, but meanwhile they seem to have moved backward in their writing skills? Does it take over the school day; they want to ‘learn’ on their gadgets instead of interacting with people?

If it seems this is way too simple {evaluate why and what, cut the unnecessary}, you can break down those two steps even further to help you better determine that things are beneficially, not arbitrarily, included in the homeschool. Breaking out of the cycle doesn’t have to require a long drawn-out list of pros/cons to every single decision you make, but it is so helpful to stop and think why you feel you have to, or should, do this or that. There will be things that will be in the best interest of your family to include, but then, you’ll need to look back at the first point and evaluate accordingly. There is no cookie-cutter homeschool family. {At least I hope not.}

*I am in no way suggesting going against state requirements for home educating, or against one’s spouse. Otherwise, there is no one else that has the right to dictate what you can, should, have to, or can’t do in your homeschool.

Have you found yourself caught in a cycle? How did you break out of it?

 

North Laurel (23 Posts)

Blossom- "North Laurel" to the online world- lives in Ohio with her husband and two teens, homeschooling the Charlotte Mason way with Ambleside Online. She is graciously allowed to be a moderator for the Ambleside Online Forum. North Laurel loves to read, be on the computer, and learn. You can read her blogging about homeschooling, book reviews and life in general at North Laurel Home & School.


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Top Ten Wednesday: Best Special Needs Blogs 2014

We’re halfway through our Homeschool Blog Awards Top 10 lists! I hope you’re finding some great new blogs to read.

Each week we will be highlighting the Top Ten Bloggers from each category of the 2014 Homeschool Blog Awards. We understand the hard work that is involved in running a successful blog. Kudos to all who were nominated, all who made the top ten, and to our winners!

Homeschool Blog Awards #HSBA2014 Winners! at hsbapost.com

This week we are highlighting the 2014 Best Special Needs Blogs!

Best Special Needs Blog

These are the moms that have the extra challenges – they go above and beyond to help their children succeed. These are the bloggers that you said you love to read when looking for ideas, support and encouragement.

Winner 2014 Best Special Needs Blog

Lemon Lime Adventures was the winner this year!

Top Ten 2014 Best Special Needs Blogs

In no particular order:

Special Needs Homeschooling

Simply Homeschool Living

Raising Lifelong Learners

The Chaos and the Clutter

Faithful Mom of 9

Our Busy Homeschool

My Sweet Homeschool

The Sweet and The Salty

The Autism Helper

 

Best Special Needs Homeschool Blog @hsbapost

 

 

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Sara (72 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.


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