Anything written here is my personal opinion. Links are affiliate links.
We are on year number 10 of this homeschooling thing and I know I still have a lot to learn. Last year was a rough year and I decided to try out something different this go around. In fact, it came to me in the middle of the night (no, I’m not kidding). I started dreaming about schedules — more specifically block scheduling.
I woke up that morning in early July, saying, can you do a class in less than a year? How about in 18 weeks? What about 9 weeks? And so began my quest to see if this was even possible.
Back when I was in high school in the public school system, I had the advantage of moving a lot. (Actually, typically that isn’t an advantage.) The one thing that I learned is that there are lots of different ways to do school. The one system that I loved the most was my senior year because that little school up in New England used a block schedule. In fact, I’m pretty sure, if I remember right, that I only did 4 classes a semester – but each block was about 1.5 hours long plus lunch. Spending more time on less classes helped my brain wrap around actually learning the material and learning it well. And then in college, almost all of my classes were semester long. The only ones that weren’t were my Summer classes which I could do in a shorter amount of time.
This year we are doing our first year of high school homeschooling. I know my 9th grade son is a lot like me — and can focus for longer periods of time but doesn’t do well with so many random things to remember to do.
Here is what I organized his school work for semester 1.
- Language Arts (Vocabulary & A Gentle Feast LA for copywork and dictation, Grammar) & Writing – WriteShop for Writing (1 Essay a week)
- Math – Algebra 1 Saxon (Year Long)
- History – Master Books “For You They Signed” American History
- Science – Intro to AP I & II (Master Books) (Each done in 9 weeks)
- Science – Intro to Geology (Master Books) (1 Semester, Video Based)
We are using block scheduling to get the content subjects of history and science done in 1 semester and each worth a credit each. The great thing about doing this with Master Books is that they give a schedule in the beginning of each teacher manual. The schedule can be altered but it is a helpful jumping off point.
I created a syllabus for each class by marking “week 1, week 2, etc.” on the page. I then proceeded to mark down day 1-5 (we have a 5 day a week schedule) under each week. By viewing their suggested schedule I could quickly tally how much reading and how many worksheets would need to be done in each week. It usually ended up being 2-3 days worth each day. Because a lot of Master Books materials assign a worksheet on a day when there isn’t any reading (in order to not overwhelm the student) it was quite simple to implement this schedule. For each subject it ended up totaling about 4-10 pages of reading per subject and 1-2 worksheet a day.
- Language Arts (Copywork and Dictation)
- Math Algebra 1 Saxon
- American History / Civics
- Intro to Logic
- (Optional depending on time – Either WriteShop 2 or Philosophy: Worldviews in Conflict — if we can’t fit these in, we will do them in 10th grade).
I absolutely love using the syllabus I created for each of his classes — it keeps us both on track. I can check off what I teach or read that day — and his written work. There are no dates on the syllabus but there are week number and days. That helps us see how much more we have to go and where we are heading next. If we need to skip a day, however, due to sickness or holidays, it doesn’t mess up our flow.
Let me know if you’ve tried block scheduling and how it works for you!