It’s that time of year. We are well into autumn, and your plans and schedule are making plain that you are either:
- Totally on track to finish your autumn term well.
- Waving a complete goodbye to the idea of a ‘strong finish’ and hoping that you can limp across the finish line and somehow find the inner strength to get ready for the holidays.
I’ve had terms where I’ve been more in the second group than in the first. We managed a moderate finish, but we dropped several things along the course of the term. We didn’t do all the composer study. We didn’t finish that book. We crossed out math problems and moved on.
But three years (and nine terms) into it, we more frequently fall into something like the first group.
Part of this is just getting better at scheduling and part of it is just being more realistic. Am I really going to have my kids spend twenty minutes listening to our composer on a Thursday morning when we have nature study at 12:30? That would be a no. Another part is simply cutting back. I’ve decided that I’m happy with copywork, singing, and memory work three times a week. Scheduling less means more time to fit it all in.
My best scheduling tip, though, isn’t to just figure it out what works though. It’s how to go about figuring what works. It goes like this:
- Plan my term. This goes into a spreadsheet.
- Print out the first six weeks.
- Do my best to stick to the plan.
- When we skip things, get off track, or I have an idea for a better way to do things, I write it down on my schedule.
- In the meantime, I continue to do my best, but don’t try to desperately get back on track until…
- We take our midterm break, when I look at my notes, and tweak my schedule accordingly.
Here’s my point of view: missing four weeks of composer study is not going to ruin your kids. Getting behind in Pilgrim’s Progress, forgetting Plutarch, skipping that story in Parables of Nature – none of that, ultimately, is going to cause a major problem down the road. Even taking a six week break from math is unlikely to create a long term issue.
I think what is worse is showing up each week with a new plan, failing to give that plan enough time to really reflect on it and learn from it, trying to cram a bunch of work into the end of a term in a last ditch effort to catch up. I think it’s hard on our kids when we are in a tizzy and stressed about our plans, and personally, I would rather let a few things gently slide off the plate, knowing that within the next few weeks I’ll be revising the plan so that it works better for us.
My eldest starts Year Four in January. We will have new subjects to add in, and I’ll be supporting him as he takes on reading more of his schoolbooks. I can easily imagine that some things are going to slide over the first couple of terms. But we’ll find our rhythm soon enough.