This year our increasingly independent teens had to become even more so due to our schedule. I have gone back to college full time, and that means they have to be more responsible for their own work. Fortunately, we already had a strong routine, and they worked well without supervision. There are, however, several things that we do to help us stay on track.
First, I keep a detailed master schedule of lessons that are broken down into days. We have roughly 155 working days in our year (we keep to a public school schedule, and I do not count co-op days), so I break down a year’s curriculum into roughly 155 lessons. This master schedule is kept for each subject in a spreadsheet. This allows me to quickly see what lessons need to be done next and how far along we are into the year. I do not assign the lessons to particular days at this point.
I also keep a calendar-style planner that allows me to write out the lessons that need to be done each week. I generally only copy a week’s worth at a time from the master schedule into the planner. This allows us to make adjustments if we need to take a day off or work more on a concept. Each student has their own small planner than they will write down their lessons and activities in, using my planner to copy from. This sounds like a lot of copying, but in reality, we each only write things down once.
I give my girls the flexibility to work on their lessons on their own schedule, as long as they have everything I’ve planned out for the week finished by Sunday night. I do check often on their progress.
Since I am not home three days a week, we’ve had to develop a system of communication for feedback. We have a few things that we use: email, texting, and old-fashioned handwritten notes.
There are things like writing and lit assignments that require detailed feedback. When they finish their rough drafts, they email them to me. I can then read them, mark them up for correction, and email them back, even if I am at school.
If they have a pressing question, they will often text me. Sometimes this is just for clarification on an assignment, or sometimes it is to ask if they can eat the soup in the fridge. It really does help us feel like we are keeping in touch throughout the day.
For things like math, I really cannot help much from a distance, so they leave notes on my desk when they need help. This helps us both remember to go over it when I am home and have time to talk with them. I try not to let questions go unanswered for more than a day.
For domestic instructions (Empty the dishwasher! Feed the dog!) I have a spiral notebook and a big black marker in the kitchen. I write notes, often in large print, and leave them where they will be sure to be seen…in front of the coffee pot.
Something else I have found to be crucial is organization. I try to make sure that I have all the materials they will need located and easy to find. I also make sure I have the planner filled out by Sunday night so they are ready to go Monday morning.
The final key to making all of this work is making time to talk. When I am home, I do try to spend time with each of my teens. We talk about their week, school, or just whatever comes up. We also connect each night at the dinner table. I feel like it is important, above all else, to maintain a close relationship even if we are spending less time together.
Apryl–Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart. She lives out in the country with her husband and her three daughters. She is an artist, photographer and a homeschooler. After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool. When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were in the third and sixth grades. Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years. You can visit her blog at Almost a Farm Girl