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Organizing Multiple Resources in an Eclectic Homeschool

 

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As eclectic homeschoolers we have been known to use bits of this and pieces of another thing.  It is also rather uncommon for us to use curriculum as it was intended and if we do, it is usually the kind that isn’t all laid out with nicely prepared daily plans.  Variety in our days helps keep my kids engaged and interested.  Using multiple resources can bring lots of variety to the day.  A loop schedule helps us keep every day different and organized at the same time.

Organizing these resources is a necessity around here.  If I don’t have things organized and laid out for me, everything is a mess and we don’t get much done.  With working part-time and homeschooling 3 kids, I find being organized to be essential for my sanity.  My kids also do better when they have organization to their day.

Learning in our homeschool often embraces the wide and deep aspects of a subject.  This usually leads to using many resources for one subject and covering tons of subjects.  I’ve found, at least with my kids, that when we have gone wide and deep in a subject area rather than focus on going to the next level, my kids have built a stronger foundation so that building the next level is easier and more stable.

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Researching Options

First, I research and find resources that I think will be a good fit for each child.  We do a few things collectively, but my kids are quite different so most things are done individually.  Researching materials can take me awhile, but sometimes I find some gems that really connect with my child.  I typically like to choose a main resource and supplement it with things my child would find interesting.

Starting to Organize

I start out by getting all the resources right in front of me and look through them.  I try to figure out what components I plan to use.  Because I don’t have time during the school week to do prep work, I like things to be open and go.  If I am creating a unit study, I make an outline of the topics using my spine.  If I am just rotating through different resources, I decide if things get equal time or if one resource is the primary one.

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Writing Out My Plan

I open a Word document and start writing down my plan.  If it is a unit study, I start filling in my outline with various resources.  If I am rotating through different resources, I make a loop (repeating list of resources) with the different resources, making sure all of the resources are on the loop.  Some things get little time and others get more slots on the loop.  How I arrange it depends on how I want to approach the subject with my child.

An Example of a Filled-In Unit Study Outline

I recently completed a microbiology unit study for my son.  I couldn’t find one resource that was my main resource.  I looked through several books and some online sites to make an outline of the topics I wanted my son to cover.  I then found library books, videos, and activities on the different topics.

An Example of One Major Resource with Supplements

My son’s Conceptual Physics study uses one main textbook.  I’ve supplemented it with videos, online simulations, online activities, and other hands-on things.  I organized it all together and posted it on my blog.  As he goes through the study independently, he just goes to the blog and clicks on the links to the videos when he gets there or finds out the pages he is supposed to read.

Another Example of a Main Textbook with Lots of Supplements:

My boys are going through history using a history textbook as their base.  I’ve gone through the textbook and found loads of documentaries and movies that go with each section in their book.  They spend much more time on the supplements than they do on their textbook.

An Example of a Main Curriculum with Additional Supplements in a Loop.

My 1st grader is using Singapore Math.  At that age I like to explore math on many levels.  She is introduced to new concepts through living math books while her main curriculum, Singapore, provides great coverage.  Math facts are done at a lower level because I don’t hold back conceptual development for my child to learn her facts.  I also make sure we have time for mental math practice and give my daughter time to practice math facts on iPad apps as well as time to practice facts with me.

Here is an example of 10 math items on her current main loop that is randomized.  She also has Cyberchase videos on her morning loop.

  • Mental math practice
  • Math apps
  • Singapore workbook
  • Living math books
  • Mental math practice
  • Living math books
  • Math apps
  • Singapore text and workbook
  • Math facts practice
  • Living math books

Another spot on the loop looks a little different because it is randomized, but it gives you a bigger picture of what it looks like

  • Singapore text and workbook
  • Mental math practice
  • Math facts practice
  • Singapore workbook
  • Math apps
  • Singapore text and workbook
  • Math apps
  • Singapore workbook
  • Math facts practice
  • Singapore text and workbook

Putting it All Together

Once I have the individual subjects organized, I put all of the subjects on a loop so everything is open and go.  A loop also gives us flexibility to take longer on something or take a detour.  My kids are done with school when the clock says a certain time.  The next time they just pick right up where they left off the day before.  We are working with two loops right now.  The first loop is the one we tackle first in the morning.  This loop contains subjects that I feel is important for us to get to frequently.  The second loop contains everything else.

One child preferred that his main loop contain subjects in a predictable order.  I randomized the list for the other two kids to give them no two days alike.  I write out page numbers and any assignments on the loop to make it open and go.  I do about 5 pages worth of the loop at a time so we have planning done for about 6 weeks at a time.

5th grader’s morning loop sample

Only the first 10 are listed.  This list is not randomized.  He usually finishes 3-4 each day.

  • Megawords (his assignment varies, but he does it with me so I let him know on the fly)
  • French audio stories – 2 stories
  • Handwriting pg 50-51
  • Arabic Mango (20 minutes)
  • Japanese with me
  • Greek Athenaze workbook 3 zeta with declension practice
  • French pronunciation with me
  • Editing pg 33
  • Handwriting pg 52-53
  • Arabic Sinbad cards

1st grader’s main loop sample

Only the first 10 are listed.  The total list takes up 5 pages.  Hers is randomized so the first 10 is not a representation of what subjects she does or how much she does them.

  • Singapore pg 40-41 plus workbook pg 51-53
  • Reading – Frog and Toad Spring
  • Music Ace
  • Mental Math 7
  • Handwriting
  • SOTW – Maroo Chapter 8
  • Reading – Frog and Toad The Story
  • Math facts practice
  • Science – Magic School Bus Unit Study – Watch “Hops Home”

7th grader’s main loop sample

He is mostly independent, so I write down assignments on there so he knows what to do next.  Here are his first 10.  His list is also randomized.

  • Java (45 minutes)
  • AOPS- 12.3 videos and problems
  • Democracy Now broadcast
  • Geography apps
  • Music Ace
  • AOPS – 12.4 summary and 12.21 through 12.33 problems
  • Biology pg 146-161
  • Physics – Chapter 9 Pose Next Time Question Apple Drop through Answer Next Time Question Apple Drop (This is how far he is to go on his physics course outline that day)
  • Material World pg 96-111
  • Classical Writing Week 19 Day 4

My 5th and 7th grader spend 1.5 hours each day on their morning loop and about 2 to 2.5 hours each day on their main loop.  They also have an hour of video time in the middle of the time while I work.  Since we have so many videos in our line-up, I look at the loop to see the next video coming up and they watch that one for their mid-day video schooling.  They also start the day with 45 minutes of Bible time with me that I didn’t put into our loops.  Exercise is also not included in our loops, but it is definitely part of our school day.

I have a schedule written up on the board that lists the loop times, break times, video time, exercise time, and lunch.  They know when the clock hits a certain time, they are done for the day or it is time to have a break.

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Organizing multiple resources brings flexibility to busy days

Organizing in this way takes a little time, but it allows us to be flexible while giving me the organization and structure to make things work with the limited time I have.  Because I work from home, I have little time for planning on a typical day.  Also when we are schooling, I tend to be working with one of my kids because teacher-intensive materials work well for us.  It is quite rare for me to have time when everyone is doing something independently.

I love using multiple resources.  If I didn’t organize how we use these resources, it would be quite overwhelming.  I don’t know if I could keep up with the all the resources for each kid.  I need a schedule, but love having flexibility.  A loop schedule gives me the best of both worlds and it works very well for multiple resources.

How do you organize multiple resources?

6 Comments:

  1. I love your posts because they have such practical tips. Seeing the examples of the different schedules is hugely helpful! I like to use multiple resources too but we don’t do a loop. I list the different materials by subject and then we have math time or LA time or history time and we go down the list if materials for that subject but not always in order. Some days we do more or a subject sometimes less, but I’d like to try the loop idea. It must take you so long to plan and find all the resources! Thanks for posting them I hope to use the microbiology one someday and others!
    Elaine recently posted…Weekly Wrap-up: European ExplorersMy Profile

  2. I like the idea of finishing when the clock says it’s time. I have a child that takes a while to finish subjects and gets stressed when everyone else is finished and she’s still working. I think she would like to know that at a certain time, she’s done, no matter what the books say.

  3. I love your loop system!! This post has given me so many ideas. We do some things similar but now I have ideas for how to tweak things. We also do the video time in between two work times. My kids are in Kindergarten and Grade 3 and I also work from home.
    Simone recently posted…Homeschooling Grade 3: Our Curriculum PlanMy Profile

  4. I love seeing how other folks do this. This is our first year homeschooling my 6 yr old. I have a 5 and 3 year old currently in preschool part time. I like to think about how I’d do this if I were homeschooling all three. We use a loop schedule and multiple resources. It’s all new but so far it’s going pretty well. Thinking about juggling three kids gets overwhelming but you’ve shown me it can be done! 🙂

    • Eclectic Homeschooling

      Three has been challenging, but a loop system makes it work for us. When 2 kids need me at once, I just have my older ones move on to the next thing on their loop that they can do on their own. Sometimes I have my youngest do that, but most often she has a play break while she waits for me.

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