Thursday, January 30, 2014

Raising Up Hackers (Part 6)

The Dilemma

We've had a lot of problems lately with a certain student's time management skills. Ahem. Adding physical therapy twice a day hasn't helped the problem either. I should cut her some slack because she does have 45 minutes of exercises to do twice a day, but honestly one should be done before school and one before bed. That really shouldn't affect the school day in theory.

This particular student 'o mine really got my set of genes. She struggles with organization and I don't just mean "where's my book?" although that's a major problem on a daily basis. She struggles with "should I do this first? or this? Oh look! something shiny!!!" The last two weekends she's done hours of school on Saturday because she failed to finish so much during the week.

I've been trying to get her to see that small decisions all day long affect tomorrow. Yes, you can stop and play with Bee for a few minutes. Yes, you can play baseball after lunch. Yes, everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. These little choices mean you aren't going to finish today....and you'll be doing school on Saturday. I'm not sure the lesson has sunk in just yet.

And we've even dropped science for the time being and she still isn't getting finished! The other day I went over her lesson plans with her and said at the end, "So, go do math right now." Then I set the timer. It was 9 minutes until she actually started the lesson. Finding a pencil, sharpening pencil, gathering notebook, computer, cord, book, getting a drink, going to the bathroom. Good. Ness. Sake.

Sweetheart really does enjoy science experiments.
So how can I add in time to pursue her own interests? Her own interests right now seem to be stopping to watch Curious George with the baby. Until she gets herself more organized and her time management skills in check, how will she ever have time for interest-led learning? How will she ever have time to become a hacker??

I really didn't have an answer to this question until I found that link on the 20% project. (A little history here.)The idea that is forming in my head involves having both of them spend a portion of their day (at least 3-4 times a week) on learning something of their choosing. I will most likely set a time limit at first--like maybe 30 minutes a day. As they catch on to this, I hope to increase that time until they are spending quite a bit of time every week learning on their own.

Since we've never really done things like this, I can't just let it go and see what happens. All extra time I could carve out for them would get eaten up by playing and finding pencils. At first, we will have to be very purposeful about it. Perhaps it will flow more naturally later.

I also think I would like them to document their learning. In my mind, a smash-book type journal would be great. But I'll let them decide. The best thing I could do is set an example for them. I'm currently trying to learn about essential oils, so if they saw me making a smash-book on essential oils, that would be good. A lot of my research and learning I do on my ipad while sitting in the living room and so they really aren't even aware I'm doing anything other than looking at my ipad. A journal would show them that I am learning too. And they also will need to report to the family (maybe at the end of the month?) on what they have learned. Accountability.

So that's my plan. The dilemma stands. Time management and organization must be a part of our lives for this to work. But I will not wait until those skills are attained to begin. We will learn both and work on both simultaneously. And hopefully, this will turn into something they love and motivate them to get through that math work so they can do this each day.

Also I need a name for this time besides "20% project." Ideas?


  1. so what all are you cutting to get you your 30 minutes a day? When I think about cutting stuff-- I think more time to get chores done.. not what fun stuff they can do. BUT maybe that is why I am in the place I am in. ROCK/ HARD PLACE. Sigh...

  2. Probably different things. One day in place of handwriting, one day in place of typing, one day in place of grammar....etc.

  3. They can also work on it outside of school!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)