Tossing the Reins: Tips and Tricks Tuesday

November 25, 2014

As of this year, Polar Bear is doing almost entirely high school level work. Because I have four other students and the first year of high school work seemed like a good time to learn time management, I have made him entirely responsible for scheduling all of his own work.

We use Sonlight curriculum, which has a 36 week schedule for the year. I put the whole year’s schedule into one binder. Then, I gave him a 1” binder to keep the schedule and information for one week at a time. I gave him a blank planner form and let him know what days he will not be home to do work (we have Slacker Science every Friday and there are occasional field trips, book club meetings, and holidays to account for.)

I saw lots of neat planners available this summer. I didn't love any of them. They were all far too busy, so I made my own. It has Monday through Friday across the top and all seven of Polar Bear's subjects down the left-hand side with space under each subject heading to write down which book he is working out of that week. The other squares are blank so he can write down which assignment he wants to do when. Super simple and effective, no fancy pants stuff needed.

Polar Bear decides how much time he will spend on each assignment and when he will do it. About once a week, Polar Bear meets with Hubby and shows him the schedule he plans to follow for the week. Hubby gives him suggestions or tweaks. He has also given him some help with study skills.

With this assistance, Polar Bear has been managing his course load fairly well. He is on schedule with science and about 3 weeks behind with everything else. He will read over 60 books this year in addition to his math, science and Gaelic work. As mentioned below, his curriculum is supposed to be accomplished in 36 weeks, but we are going to school through the summer, so he is actually right where he needs to be.

It was not easy to hand the reins over to Polar Bear. However, as I have been telling a friend of mine, this is a good year to fail. He is technically only an 8th grader, doing 9th grade work. If he does terribly, I don’t have to count it on his transcript. So far, I’m pretty proud of Polar Bear. He has turned out to be a conscientious student. I wish I could sneak back in time to the mama I was 7 years ago and tell her that there will indeed come a time when she won’t have to remind her son to put his pencil to the paper and quit staring out the window. I can’t clue her in, but if you find yourself having to constantly prod, remind and nag a younger child about their school work, keep at it mom, it’s worth the effort.

If you have a high school student who is leaning heavily on you to keep them on task, consider giving them a list of assignments for the week and a blank planner page. At some point they have to figure this out on their own. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s better to learn to swim in the deep end with someone around who can throw you a lifeline.

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