Using Charts to Stay on Track All Week

Note: A quick shout-out to the winners of the launch giveaway! Join me in congratulating Jessica S and Clare! Congratulations, girls! Jessica, you have won God King, and Clare, you will be receiving the Grandma’s Attic Treasury. I’ll be in touch with both of you shortly.

Over the years, our family has changed the way we do school in different ways. We’ve switched curriculum several times, finding the perfect combination for our particular needs and learning styles. Currently, my siblings are using over four different curiculums, and keeping track of the progress in all of them can sometimes be a bit difficult to manage.

Stay-on-Track

Over three years ago, Mom made a chart up for each of us children, and that has helped to stay on track immensely. As I’ve worked through highschool, I ended up making my own to suit my needs, but the basic principles are the same.

We found that one of the major problems with not having a game plan is that it doesn’t get done. When you know where you’re headed, you can focus your attention there, and worry less about the path it takes to get there.

Here are five ways to keep your curriculums together and moving forward all at once.

  1. Have a weekly plan. Some curriculums are great at making this up for you, for some you have to make it yourself. Figure out what you want to get done so you’ll still be on track at the end of the week, and divide that work by day accordingly.
  2. Decide on your major subjects. Your children can’t do everything all the time. Figure out what’s most important, and put that at the top of the list. For us, this includes math, reading and spelling, Bible, history, and english. Other extras that we do include learning touch typing and handwriting.
  3. Figure out what each child can and can’t do on their own. This varies depending on the child, their age level, and reading ability. By the time I was eleven, I could mostly do everything by myself—whereas some of my brothers reached that stage at thirteen or later. Once you know what your child can do by himself, you’ll have an easier time assigning his work to him.
  4. Put all the work you expect to get done in the week onto a chart. You’ll need to have assignments per day for some things, but other things (such as piano practice) would have a certain amount of time or work per day, and that would stay mostly the same for the whole week. Mom makes a simple table in a document for all of this. Here’s an example:
    Chart Example

    An example of what a chart for the week could look like.

    Math fact practice and typing are a certain amount of time per day, as opposed to math or handwriting where there is a certain amount of work that has to be done per day. Each day, my brothers go through their lists and check everything off as they get it done. It works as motivation for them—most of the time—because they know that as soon as they have everything checked off they can be done for the day. It also helps Mom, because she can easily see who’s gotten what done—especially since she is currently teaching five children!

  5. Offer rewards or consequences for achieving or missing assignments. This also helps as incentive to get things done. When you know you’ll miss a privilege if you don’t get your math finished in time, you tend to work faster. We also use rewards for people who get all their work done before a designated time (12:00, lunch time, etc.). Over the years, the rewards have changed—from a peanut butter ball, to 5¢ per day when finished in time, and several other variations along the way. Sometimes, we don’t have any reward at all.

One thing to keep in mind when considering making a chart is that you only want to list the essentials. Too far beyond that will make the work look overwhelming. If you want to do something extra, you could consider slipping that in to the afternoon instead of trying to fit it in the morning’s schedule. Less stress over a big workload makes a happier family.

Finding the right method for your family to stay on track can be difficult—but the end result is very rewarding. When you know what you expect yourself and your children to do each day, you can get a lot more done.

Question: Do you have problems staying on track and making sure everything runs together smoothly? What is one way you make the process easier? Share your thoughts in the comments below–I’d love to hear what you think about the subject!