When You Feel Like You Are Behind Schedule
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It's Monday morning, and for the first time in several weeks, I found that I have some extra time. So, I found my now-cold coffee from earlier in the morning and decided that I was going to finish it while updating my state-required attendance sheet. I sat down at my cluttered kitchen table, added up the days we had completed, and discovered that we'd completed 122 days. "It's over the magical Day 100," I heard myself saying aloud, with relief. I took a sip of my already-cold cup of coffee and decided I needed to count the number of days left in the school year. Taking a deep breath and ignoring the fact that my toddler was grasping my legs, I started counting, "…48-49-50!"

"There are only 50 days left in the school year?" I heard myself say. Something began to tickle my brain, so I glanced at my lesson planner. "Wait! We are only on Day 101 in the lessons! I'm behind!” I began adding the numbers up. "That means I'm already 21 days behind since my school district only requires 172 days!" And what about the fact that there are 180 lessons available in our curriculum? Do I need to teach all of them?

I began to wonder, "What can I do? How can I do that?" Fortunately, there are several solutions to complete my school year.

The most obvious way is to adjust my school calendar. When I get behind, I can simply add extra school days. Sure, I may have a smaller number of "off days" in the summer, but I know that it is essential that my children have a complete education, and that may require some sacrifice on our part. So, I wonder if I should postpone the family vacation to homeschool.

Another approach would be to double up on lessons. One easy way to double up is to do two lessons on test days. In other words, the day my child takes a test in a subject, he will also do the very next lesson (usually an introduction to the next chapter in the book.) That will buy me extra days simply by moving the calendar forward.

Another way to double up is to pick a day and do two lessons in one subject. So, on Mondays, we will do two history lessons. Tuesdays, two English lessons. Wednesdays, two math lessons. Thursdays, two science lessons, and Fridays, two spelling lessons. That will add only forty-five extra minutes or so to our school days. However, this can be difficult for secondary-level students, as each lesson takes longer to complete. Even expecting a second grader to double up can be challenging, and I strongly advise you to double up only on subjects your child already considers easy.

There are many tools on the BJU Press Homeschool Hub for adjusting lessons, activities, days of instruction and more! This makes planning simple. Ask your HomeWorks Consultant about how the Hub can help you with your planning.

Alternatively, I can resolve the issue of being behind by readjusting my expectations. Before I do anything, I need to ask myself why I think I should only homeschool the state-required number of days. Yes, I am exhausted, but am I trying to meet my child's needs, or am I simply following what the traditional school calendar dictates? Should learning stop for three months to take a break, or is this just another way we imitate the public school?

I do not allow my children to stop learning because the calendar says it is summer. Each summer, my children have had the hot afternoons to continue their education and maintain their learning levels by working on the basics. Would it harm my child to complete the last couple of chapters in their math book? Or their reading? Could I not turn the last chapters of science (especially elementary science) into a hands-on learning experience in anatomy by reading the text and then going to the local science museum? If we do not have left-over curriculum to work on in the summer, I already use the BJU Press Vacation Stations and BookLinks.

Sure, the easiest approach would be to stop and throw out chapters I deem unnecessary, but before I throw out entire chapters of the textbook, I always look at the next-year selection of the textbook's table of contents in the sample pages on the BJU Press Homeschool website and compare that with what I am considering skipping. I need to ensure I am not poking a hole in my child's education by removing introductions to new ideas and topics. I need to assure myself that my child will not lose anything important. If looking at the table of contents is not enough, I will try to find a copy of the following year's textbook to borrow, or I can call a HomeWorks by Precept consultant to see if I can look through their copy to see what is presented. If I can skip a chapter without harm, I can make that adjustment, but I need to remember that this is done as a last resource and not as my go-to response to getting behind.

Furthermore, I need to learn from this experience of being behind for my next school year. The most important thing I can learn about getting behind is pacing. Schools break their year into quarters or sixths. That helps teachers to maintain the pace of their school year. Teaching at home or school is not a fast race, like a 100-meter race; it is more about endurance, running miles like a marathon. You must pace yourself to prevent burnout and maintain a steady pattern that will get you to the end of the school year. That means I need to divide my school year into quarters and complete 45 lessons every quarter. If I get behind, I use the next quarter to catch up rather than try to push my school year further and further forward.

In addition, I can implement changes in my next school year. I may implement the rule that once we take a test (not a quiz), we will move forward that same day to the next lesson. That could buy me 15 to 20 or even more extra school days. I may implement the rule that we will double up one additional class every day and pick specific days to double up particular subjects. I can also look at my calendar and ask myself if I am being realistic about what we can get done.

I know that I want my child to have social experiences (and, perhaps, if I'm being honest, I need a day off to drink my coffee while it is still hot and get the laundry done,) but if I decide to add a co-op or an enrichment day, then I may need to find a way to add additional school days back into my calendar. I may need to make some other major adjustments. I may need to double up the entire school year to keep pace, or next year I will start my school year two weeks earlier and add two extra weeks to the end to buy myself extra time to complete my curriculum. After all, 172 days is just a number the public school requires, not necessarily the number of days right for my children's learning needs. And no, I do not need to teach all 180 lessons in the curriculum. I can choose them as I mentioned earlier.

Finally, I need to give myself grace. Especially in the first few years of homeschooling, most moms only complete part of the curriculum. It is a huge adjustment to begin a new lifestyle of learning at home and teaching my children when I have never done it before, so I need to remember that this process takes time to master. I know I get more done now than I did in my first few years of homeschooling, but I am still learning, so I must give myself the grace to make mistakes. One of the benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. You can make changes when needed, and it's ok.

Meet the Author


Rebecca Kruc - Homeschooling mom


 

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