Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tomato Time

I recently watched a video going around Facebook called The Pomodoro Technique.  It was a little bit of a revolution.  I say little bit because I had a manager named Ann who told me about a similar technique used at the high school she went to.  I finally realized where this would useful in my life.

Pomodoro means tomato in Italian.  I have looked for a reason why the developer of this technique chose this name but I can't find one.  If you know, please share!  Ann the manager called the 20 minute chunks of time modules or mods.  I have not come up with a kitchy name for our version of this so, for now, we'll call them blocks.  Good enough?  Ok.

I had to come up with a daily schedule for our family of laze about procrastinators.  Honestly, we would sludge around in our PJs all day, watch TV, and eat chips if left to our own devices.  Plus we had to get cable TV in order to get Internet during our recent move.  This is the first time we have had cable since before our children were born.  This is a blessing and a curse.  Blessing because TV! And we can record shows.  And can I say that being able to pause what I want to watch, deal with XYZ kid problem or cook dinner, then come back to what I was doing has cut down on mommy meltdowns a good bit.  Curse because TV!  There is so much fun stuff to while away the time watching.  I mean, educational stuff to watch.  Yeahhhh.  So back to our schedule...

We are trying to model our homeschooling after Charlotte Mason's philosophies so the first half of the days are spent schooling.  Then lunch and outdoor time.  This will sometimes be educational/experimental but most of the time it will be exploration and good, old fashioned playing.  Then the kids have downtime in their rooms.  This gives me a chance to have time to myself and the kids can relax after all the brain growing and muscle building of the morning.  Then the kids have free time for the computer, video games, or TV.  I get to finish projects and start dinner, they get to watch all the cartoons their little eyes can bear.  Then when Daddy gets home, we eat, and have family time.  We might play games, watch a movie, whatever, it just has to be together.  Then we clean up as a family.  This way no one person feels like they are doing the bulk of the work and I get to leave the dishes, trash, etc. until this one time.  I don't feel like I am constantly cleaning the entire day.  Then baths, PJs, and the kids go play in their rooms again.  The hubs and I get time together and can watch grown up shows without fussing at the kids.  We have a bedtime snack like popcorn and hot chocolate, brush teeth, then winding down.  Kids go to bed and I usually stay up a little longer.  If the hubs feels like it he will go talk on his ham radio but most nights he goes to bed.

It's a very detailed but relaxed schedule that is really working well for us.  I have told the kids we won't stray from it but if we are sidetracked by appointments or errands, we just jump on schedule when we return home.   I don't even stress if we miss out on a school subject.  I know we can catch up and the kids don't feel pressured about missed work.  No stress for kids or mom?  Yes!

Ok, so where does the tomato come into play?  Well, if you watched the linked video, you'll see that tasks are broken down into intervals with rest in between.  What we have done is assigned 20 minutes to each school subject.  No breaks in between though.  This lets me maximize the attention kids at their age are willing and able to give.  Plus, I work better if I can just flow from one thing to the next and not break.  Another way this works well for us is setting the timer for 10 minute turns at games or apps we are using for a certain subject.  No more fighting over who's turn it is or how long someone has been "having fun" while the other is doing a worksheet or reading.

What techniques do you use to manage school time?

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Like George Washington Carver said:

1. Be clean both inside and outside.
2. Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
3. Lose, if need be, without squealing.
4. Win without bragging.
5. Always be considerate of women, children and old people.
6. Be too brave to lie.
7. Be too generous to cheat.
8. Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.


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