General Scheduling Advice
Lower Grammar Students
I’m sure you’ve heard the acronym: KISS. “Keep It Simple, Sweetie.” With this in mind, schedules for Lower Grammar students and preschoolers need to be flexible. A few things to consider as you plan your days:
- How about a 4-day school week? Your 5th day could be field trips, baking, or other hands-on projects. Yes, count this as “school.”
- Have a stopping point each day. If you don’t get done with your plans, there is always tomorrow!
- Household training is important. Taking tiny steps toward this type of learning will be invaluable in future years.
- Are baby supplies close at hand? Don’t make things more difficult by having to traipse upstairs, or across the house, for items you know you’ll need every hour.
- Train children as to your expectations during baby-care time.
- Teach these children to check off (check mark or sticker) each task on their chart as it is completed.
Sample Lower Grammar Schedule: note that most of the activities listed below can be done in 0-20 minute increments. The order in which you do them isn’t as important.
Upper Grammar Students
When your oldest child is an Upper Grammar student, typically 4th – 6th grades, he is ready to begin assuming more responsibility for his own education. As with everything else in life, this is a process. Hang in there! It will bear fruit in time.
- Gear your academic day around the needs of the oldest child, since he has the most to accomplish, and fold younger children into the mix.
- Incorporate weekly planning by involving the student. You are still in control of content, but let him choose how many pages or assignments to accomplish each day. He’ll write this into his own blank chart.
- Continue to check on his work daily. Make sure he knows, ahead of time, the consequences for poor or lacking work.
- Reading aloud to your student is still important. Conversely, you’ll occasionally want him to read aloud to you to check for understanding.
- Utilize students this age for reading to preschoolers. Not only does this develop oral reading skills, but also helps build relationships.
- Thirty minute increments for each subject are about right. Four major academic days will still work!
- Memory work and educational games are now part of subject assignments, without separate designation.
- The row that I’ve called “other” is for one more thing…it could be Latin, phonics review, piano lesson, etc. Limit this to one row so that neither you nor your kids will be overwhelmed.
Dialectic & Rhetoric Levels
At these ages, students are typically becoming more self-sufficient in planning their own work (and working their own plan). However, they will still need guidance as you transition from “supervising” to “advising” them in their time and work management. “Training in liberty” is a vitally important process for young adults, but like any new school, it takes time to master. (For more on this process, see Chapter 8 of Love the Journey.)
- Young Dialectic students: Students at ages 10-12 are often developmentally ready to begin taking responsibility for their own work. However, they will need to be both envisioned and trained to do it. We recommend having a conversation with your husband and student about the transition towards self-government. Students will need to know both 1) that their parents expect them to shoulder a serious new responsibility with real potential for failure, and 2) that their parents are going to help them grow into it, working from one degree of liberty to the next until the student is capable of self-government.
- Ongoing character training is usually necessary during this transition because students at this age are often either reluctant (perhaps lazy, lacking vision, or both) or over-anxious about their work.
- As a parent-teacher who is used to spoon-feeding assignments to your students, you may also have to work against your own habits, and may worry about whether your child can (or will choose to) take ownership.
- We recommend prayer, talking to your husband (maybe even handing off part of the task to him for a season?), and talking honestly with your student about what it looks like for you to transition from a “supervisor” role to more of an “advisor” role.
- We also recommend meditation on 1 Thessalonians 5:14: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (ESV).
- As has been wisely observed, a person (whether age 12 or age 62!) can be all three of these (“idle,” “fainthearted,” and “weak”) at the same time.
- Your student may need warnings for idleness (also translated “unruliness”), encouragement for faintheartedness, and help for weakness (lack of skill in self-management) simultaneously!
- Whatever he needs, we urge you to be patient. Self-government is a difficult skill to master.
- Although this can be a difficult season, we want to encourage you that it is worthwhile not only as preparation for college, but also into adulthood. Employers nowadays often lament the critical lack of “adulting skills” in their young employees. Students who have been taught to manage their own time and work are thus in a stronger position to do their work skillfully and faithfully.
- Students in transition to high school: Students at age 14 are hopefully already taking responsibility for the majority of their own work, but may need your help to find more efficient ways of managing their time as they transition to a heavier workload.
All Four Levels
What if you have a house full of students at all levels?
Well, your day will be full… your younger children will work for various times in the day; your older children will work much of the day. Think back to your high school years: the days were pretty full if you had schoolwork (including homework), a sport, a musical instrument, clubs of any sort, and church obligations.
Please note, these are time slots for various activities. Not all activities use up all available time in each slot! Additionally, not all families have children in all age-levels represented, but in case you do, there’s a place for everyone.)
Abbreviations: PS = preschool, LG = Lower Grammar, UG = Upper Grammar, D = Dialectic, R = Rhetoric