Thursday, October 4, 2012


Routines are very important in a kid's life.  I don't mean schedules, like at 8:00 a.m. we do X, then Y at 8:30 and Z at 9:30. I mean first we eat breakfast, next we do X, then Y, followed by Z with breaks when we need them.

We're working on our routines. For example, I realized that the math is crazy easy for The Train Man (yes, I decided to give them nicknames!). I started scheduling two math lessons a day for him to get him through the stuff he already knows and to keep his interest. However, I realized that a lesson might take five minutes or it might take thirty, depending on his mood. If he's just not feeling it, why fight through two whole sets of that?

So instead of trying to do X amount of work, we're going to try X amount of time, but not stick to a strict schedule. We'll start math, and work about 20 minutes or until we're "done." If he's focused and doing his best work and really into it, why stop? As long as he's not being introduced to new concepts that I think he needs time to think on, I'm going to let him go at his pace.

Between subjects we have 15-minute breaks. Before I discovered these online timers, it was a pain to get The Train Man back to task after a break. Now he runs back to start his next subject when the bomb explodes or to see which runner won the race. I even use them to call him over to start school (just choose a noisy one and set it for 1 second). I cannot recommend this website enough. It's a sanity saver!

I used to use a timer to start breaks, too, but stopped because it would go off when he was in his stride and he would just shut down. After the break he did not want to come back to finish whatever he had been in the middle of because in his mind, he was done with it!

Train Man is starting to understand when he will and will not be able to focus. He can tell me "I just really need a break right now" and will choose which timer he wants to use (usually the C4 explosives) and run off to play. After the explosion, he is fresh and ready to focus again. I really like that about school at home. If he was in a regular classroom, he would not be able to self-evaluate and decide when to work and when to play. However, three days a week, his whole class gets together in a live lesson at 9 a.m. Having that scheduled lesson teaches him to start getting himself to a point where he can be present mentally, even if he feels he isn't ready. He does not like to miss the live lesson because he gets to hear & see his teacher and interact with other students.

I think a good routine would help him even more. His best times are always in the morning. We've tried other times and they just don't seem to work. Even then, however, there are some interruptions I can't help, such as the needs of the younger kids. There are also interruptions caused by school itself, such as the live lesson.  If we get work done before, great! If not, that's fine too. Then there are interruptions I'm not willing to avoid, such as MOPS meetings. We do our best to work around those things. MOPS is twice a month and takes up the entire morning. Twice a month is not too bad, so we usually skip the "thinking" subjects and do art, activities, and fun stuff.

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