We are in week 12 of our school year and we were all growing weary of 7-hour learning days. If school work takes until 4:00 in the afternoon then J and I are wasted, B is bored (because his work doesn't take as long) and S turns into a pest because he needs some attention.
I could resort to empty threats ("If you don't finish by such-and-such a time, then we can't go to Tae Kwon Do/swimming/insert other calender event here today.") But I'm not going to ever follow through with them because the calendar events are part of their education too.
So, I tried to lighten the load.
Two weeks ago, because of other forseen interruptions to our schedule (see this post), I took out two subjects. Bye-bye spelling and Topic #2. We don't have time for you right now.
That should do it.
Nope. School was STILL taking until 4:00. Part of it was my fault...I was distracted by my own stuff and tended to give them longer breaks, which means we went longer in the afternoon. Not good. They, in turn, were wiggly and disrespectful... yadda, yadda. I needed to help prod J along because he was dragging miserably. Both boys were goofing off, blaming S for distracting them, stopping their thought process when I left the room to answer the phone and so on and so on.
Then I remembered: A few weeks ago, we had an afternoon field trip planned so I tried a time schedule so we could get there on time and still finish some work at home. It worked really well and I rewarded them accordingly.
Today I tried the time schedule again (see previous post). It worked but J really felt pushed. I don't mind pushing him a little bit. I haven't asked him to do anything that's too difficult for him. If he maintains focus he can get through everything and I built in time at the end so he could finish up what was left undone.
B was done right on schedule (2nd grade is such a piece of cake).
J was encouraged to keep to the schedule and I made note of what he couldn't finish in time so he could wrap it up at the end. We made some negotiations when we did two days of work in one subject. As long as he was focused and moving forward I made concessions and let him succeed. In the end he was only 9 minutes over time. So, I asked him to spend 9 minutes on cleaning his room and we would be square.
B likes the time schedule. I think it keeps me accountable. S liked knowing when his brothers would get a break. J saw that it really IS possible to do everything that's expected of him before 3:00 and we are now headed out to Tae Kwon Do... on time.