I am trying an experiment at the moment. Our bookwork time has been a bit chaotic lately with Bookworm and Snugglepot complaining about their work, asking for breaks all the time, and having trouble focusing, and Buttercup wandering around looking for something to do. So I have introduced “silent work time”, a 15 minute period at the start of our bookwork where everyone in the house has to be quiet and doing something productive. So Bookworm and Snugglepot sit and do parts of their bookwork that they can do themselves without needing my help, and Buttercup has mat time, with a mat on the loungeroom floor. She has to stay on the mat and do quiet activities. She has been choosing a jigsaw puzzle and a book, and I am trying out the idea of Montessori style activity trays for her to explore as well.
I can tentatively say that the experiment is looking successful. We have had a bit of trouble with everyone remembering not to talk, and with people doing productive work and not sitting there staring into space. Buttercup has had trouble sitting quietly without needing my help if something is not working. But I’m hoping that if we persevere and get used to it, that gradually everyone will come to accept that this is part of our day, and that the focus and quiet concentration will gradually spill over into the rest of bookwork. I’m also hoping that Buttercup will become better at solving problems herself during this time, instead of asking for help straight away. Being the third child, with doting older sisters, she has plenty of people to jump in and do things for her if she struggles with something, instead of having to persevere and solve the problem herself.
My other experiment is fun break tokens. I have been getting frequent requests for breaks, when not much work has been done. So now the older two girls get a card at the start of bookwork, which is a “fun break token”. This entitles them to a 10 minute break at any time they choose during bookwork, as long as they have completed the task they have been working on, and as long as it is not in the middle of silent work time. It’s gone well so far – simply putting “fun” on the token instantly makes it more appealing 🙂 This idea was not mine – I stole it unashamedly as I do most of my great homeschooling ideas! It was on a blog somewhere – I’ll have a hunt and edit the post so that I can credit the person who actually used her brain to come up with it.
These changes only started at the beginning of this week so it remains to be seen whether they will last, but I’m hoping that they become part of our normal day.