Updated: Aug 18, 2021
The schedule below is Montessori/Reggio inspired -mostly meaning I'm going for family-led/student-centered and constructivist vibe. Key to know about this schedule is that this is the schedule/structure I use while also working full-time from home. However, my work is flexible and my husband is also working from home so there is another adult to keep eyes on the two-year old, while I engage with the four and six-year old in another part of the house.
I aim for the children to have as much voice and choice as possible in what and how they learn and also try to set things up so their learning can be as self-guided and experiential as possible. At the same time, I plan 1-1 time with each child to check in / conference with them about what they are learning. Also, I use that 1-1 time for some direct instruction.
In a previous blog post, I talked about the 3 steps you need to take to set up family-led learning. And the three steps are the same if you're homeschooling full time, monitoring your child who's mostly independently engaged in their school's distance-learning, or any other set-up. Regardless of your scenario- when you want to get nitty-gritty about what your schedule could/should look like, form should follow function. How you learn (your schedule) needs to be a reflection of what you're trying to do/be as learners (your vision) and what you need to learn (your big picture).
With all that said, here's what we do after the children wake up, eat breakfast, and get dressed. Note: I'm very flexible about when we get started, especially in the summer time and especially in the middle of a pandemic! Feel free to add-ish to the end of any of the times below.
9:00-9:30 am - Play time
9:30 to 11:30 am - Work time (Part 1)
We kick off work time with us talking and setting intentions for our day and for this first work time. My girls share what they are learning about, want to learn about, and discuss how they plan on learning (reading a book, on a computer program, playing, doing an experiment, etc.) Then they pull off corresponding post-its from our Learning Parking Lot. The Parking Lot holds our evolving ideas about what to learn and how. Also, when there is something in particular I want them to learn, I place post-its on there. The Post-its are color-coded (for now). The pink is for things they need to do everyday, green is for things that need to be done with others (like with me or a sibling) and yellow is for everything else. While this chart names a bunch of topics and activities- they are all related to our big picture goals! Therefore, when my youngest works on "Cutting Practice"- she's clear that she's going to practice cutting because she's working her way up to being able to cut a certain number of shapes really well to create a fancy homemade card to send to her grandma.
After considering what we need to do and want to do, the girls place their Post-its on another chart. The chart has three columns- "To-Do", "Doing", and "Done." (If you want to geek out a little, this chart is called a Kanban board. This board is a visual way to plot out projects and workflows using columns and cards. These boards are often used with scrum or agile management to help teams see progress and spot blockers.)
So until 11:30 am, it's work time.
Full disclosure: I have heard, more times than I want to count or admit during these work times:
"Mom, I'm bored!"
"I have nothing to do."
"I don't want to do this anymore..."
"Oh, this?! It's Youtube. Peppa Pig."
And I usually reply, "Hmmm, say more."
Then for a couple of minutes they explain to me why they want to quit or have quit whatever they were working on. I respond differently each time, depending on the child, their personal goals, my mood, how close we are to lunch, etc., But where I usually end the conversation is, "Feel free to put the post-it for what you were doing in the "doing" column."
And my response to things they want to postpone or quit doing- "It's ok if it still is not done and you want to take a break. Leave that task in the "doing" column. What still needs to be done? Why don't you get started on that?"
Depending on the child, their personal goals, their mood, how close we are to lunch, etc., they take what I said, and find something else to do or whine some more.
But the more I've kept with it...the less the whining. And I'm confident that I'm teaching them a way they can organize themselves and be the independent learners and thinkers I'm passionate about them being!
An aside: A family for whom I was their co-teacher tried this organizational structure on for size and it worked well for them. The mom also put herself on the chart. I was like...that's a great idea! She said she did the chart to help her organize her time as she worked from home, and as a model for her children. In the 2.0 version of my chart I'm going to put myself on the chart as well as add a column for "Ready for Review." (I've had a couple of situations were rooms or assignments were not "done," and would have benefited from some feedback!)
11:30 AM to 12:30 pm- Lunch time and free play.
12:30- 2:00 pm- Work time (Part 2) - Same as above. Sometimes we rest. We usually read during this time too.
2:00 to 2:45 pm- Conference time and direct instruction. For example, right now I'm teaching my oldest daughter to count money and tell time. I'm teaching my youngest different letter sounds and we play letter-sound games.
2:45 to 3:00 pm- Clean up and we're done for the day.
So that's what we do. It's a loose structure that works for now and is still evolving. What schedule are you using these days?
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