Tuesday, December 9, 2014

#2 "BLOCK schedules and 4 day school weeks" in: 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

  This is the second in a series about teaching school with lots kids, multiple ages and grades and little ones about. These 10 things would have revolutionized my life had I done all of them from the beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

#2 BLOCK schedules and 4 DAY school weeks

     This is a concept that has really evolved over the years for me, I certainly didn't understand it all when I first started.
     In the beginning I think most homeschoolers try to "public school at home".  Its what we know, so its what we do.  Trying to fit that in to a homeschool schedule is definitely not easy.  There is so much trial and error put into figuring out your homeschool life.  There are something that I had to learn like block scheduling, whereas a 4 day work week just happened.
     I pretty much have always had a 4 day school week but in the beginning, I would still try and "make up" that 5th day.  I could not figure out how we would actually accomplish stuff without that 5th day BUT I NEEDED that 5th day to be a non school day.  That 5th day was co-op, or shopping, or playdate, or homeschool group, or whatever.  Anything but school.  We were drowning in our lost day though the other 4 days.
     I did not block schedule in the early days.  I wish I had listened to my friend Lydia (HI LYDIA) when she explain block scheduling to me, but I didn't. I have since learned my lesson and learned the key to the 4 day school week was block schedules!   Block schedules and 4 day work weeks just fit so nicely together... like.... like... like peanut butter and chocolate!

Lets fist deal with a block and what it is:  
     This is when you combine a large period of time to cover one subject.  For instance, instead if doing 1 hour of History and 1 hour of science everyday.  You instead do 2 hours of the subject at one time and cover 2 days of material during that time.

HOW is it actually blocked out?

There are 2 different schedules that are used for blocks:

  1. Block/Block: where you combine your blocked hours into blocked days. EG: Mon/Tuesday are Block A days.  Wed/Thurs are both Block B days.  You complete 2 hours each day of whichever subjects you are blocking together.
  2. BLOCK/ALTERNATING: where you block the subject hours but do every other day of it.  EG: Mon Block A, Tue Block B, Wed Block A, Thur Block B.

I have done both and have chosen op #1 as the winner in my house.  Here's why:
  1. It means we can wrap our brains fully around that subject and submerge ourselves in it without interruption.
  2. Its less confusing.
  3. It makes planning my week easier.  If I need to go out on Monday and miss part or all of our blocked class, I can make sure the following day is free to "get 'er done". 
  4.  With an alternating schedule I had to think to much to organize my weeks and the lesson. 
  5. Because it just works better.

This can look VERY different in everyone's household.  Some people like to block all subjects and some pick and choose- like myself.
In my house we block schedule:

  • Science
  • History
And do not block:
  • LA
  • Math
  • Additional topics

  I picked those subjects to be split that way because:
  • Math and LA should be done everyday.
  • My kids would get way overwhelmed doing a block math schedule- too much at one time!
  • Often with HIS and SCI we would get caught up in the lesson and "get behind"Wwith HIS and SCI I was taking a lot of time to prep some things and it was cutting into my school day
  • If we missed a day of HIS or SCI I felt like my mojo was screwed for the whole week.
  • My days always seemed rushed but if I removed HIS and SCI then they were okay.  I decided they were the culprits and therefore I would deal with them differently!
Now that you understand that let us look at the week as a whole.

4 day school week- now known as 4DW (4 day week).  

Pretty self explanatory.  and works well with a block schedule.   You school (idealy) Monday-Thursday and Fridays you can do as you wish with it.

We do co-op.  But in the past I have also used that day for field trips, make up work, as a "check in" day, a project day, etc.

The 4DW works so well with BLOCK scheduling and BLOCKS work so well with ONE ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE teaching!  So how it is all connecting?

What does MY week look like?

I will gladly share!

  • 7-8:30 the oldest kids get up and get to their math on the computers (TT and KHAN).  Its quiet in my house and the littles are still in their rooms so this is a great time to get math knocked out!
  • 8:30-9:30 we do before breakfast chores, eat Bfast and do after Bfast chores.
  • 9:30ish- 11:30ish we do: M/T science; W/TH history
  • 11:30-12:30ish we finish our block that day, straighten up, eat lunch, do after lunch chores
  • 12:30ish-1:30ish older kids start their independent work in LA/additional subjects and I do about an hour of stuff with the k-3rd/4th crowd at least 3 times a week.  Sometimes an older kid does it or will help out.
  • 1:30-3ish the oldest kids junior high/highschool will continue to work on stuff as needed.

All the curric I use can be EASILY worked into all of this.  MOH (mystery of History) actually has several different schedules in the fron of their book to look at and a 4DW is one of them.  I learned a lot from using that!
QUEENS stuff is usually written as a story and 4 applications.  So combining the story to 2 application days is no problem at all.

     It is also ok to cut out some applications!  You could do 2 lessons but only do 1 application.  Or do something short and combine it with something more indepth.  There is a lot of freedom.

Sometimes I will do both "lessons" and then do one application. Or both lessons and then both applications or  Other times I will do one lesson and one application and then the second and the second.  It really depends on the subject and what is being covered.
     You will QUICKLY figure it out and find the right rhythm for your family within a week.   


  1. I have never heard of the curriculum QUEENS. Would you post a link? :)


    2. you can also click on the "queen" icon on the right hand side of the screen =)