This year in our homeschool, we tried something different. "Experts" refer to it as block scheduling: having fewer classes (or subjects) each day. The way we blocked our school year is into semesters. We took the classes for the year, divided them into two groups, and then did half of the classes in fall semester, and the other half of classes in spring semester.
So, how's it going?
Wonderfully. So wonderfully, in fact, that we aren't even finished with the school year and I had to tell you how well it's going.
Fall semester consisted of history, science, grammar, and smaller classes like health, logic, and for my daughter, spelling (which she will work on all year).
Spring semester consists of reading/literature, writing, and math.
This schedule is working out for us for numerous reasons. First, it works better for me. As a work at home mom who also happens to be single, it has kept me sane. I only have to worry about a few subjects daily. Also, I chose the more tedious subjects (the ones that tend to get neglected) for the start of our year, and will finish the year with the more enjoyable subjects (for me/us anyway). So when spring fever sets in, we will be working on subjects that we will have an easier time completing.
Secondly, my kids are spending more time on their subjects daily, rather than going from one to the next quickly. Imagine only reflecting on three ideas you focused on that day, rather than six or more. This gives them the time to go more in depth with what they learn, as well as tying it in with what they already know. Cramming more information into one day tends to prevent in depth learning on any given subject.
Finally, it helps with cost management. Except for the textbooks I will hand down to my younger child, we aren't holding on to texts all year. As soon as we are done with it, I sell the curriculum to make room for the next semester. It also allows me to find good deals during the school year rather than buying everything at one time, in late summer or early fall, when everyone else is shopping. Right now I'm scoping out deals for next year, as I already know what we will be doing. I guess that's more a benefit of planning, while the block scheduling helps me spread out the money being spent.
You might be wondering how old my kids are. They are currently in 6th and 7th grades. I wonder if we could have used this schedule when they were younger, as I've heard many moms say, "That won't work for my child because they have to have math everyday." Or, "I could see doing it when they are older, but when they are younger, topics need to be reinforced daily." I can tell you that these arguments are not valid in my home. I believe if I had done a similar schedule from early on, it would have worked just as easily- with my kids. Everyone has different needs and kids learn differently. Before you write it off in your family, imagine what it would be like and see if it might work in your home. It breaks away from the mold a bit, and for us, it has turned out to be a huge blessing as I've retained my sanity this year. A LOT of homeschool moms can't say that at the end of May! (I will report back in, I know it's only the end of January!)