Years ago, we realized something – that writing assignments tend to take a fair amount of time to complete well and that the finished product is easier and better if a longer chunk of time is allowed for it – time to ponder, to doodle, to research, to outline, to illustrate, to write, edit, and make a good copy. It helps to keep on writing and editing when you’re already thinking about the topic or skill you’re trying to express instead of having to stop and regather your thoughts another day to continue where you left off. So many writing programs for elementary students seem to expect that “writing” should be included in all (or most) school days in little bits. As our family tended to take more and more time with language arts stuff compared to learning other important topics, I decided to change the situation.
(Note: Upper level students (e.g. high school) should learn the skills of being able to stop and restart a writing assignment in preparation for longer projects in post-secondary studies and the “career stage of life”. For them, I don’t mind putting “writing” a few times each week or even every day but I no longer do that for the younger students and it has made a refreshing difference in our homeschool.)
So, we threw all or almost all of the work involved with writing and communication skills onto one day only and called it “Writing Wednesdays”. The kids really love just having this one day for it compared to the traditional schedule and keep asking that each year (sometimes every other year for us), they keep that “Writing Wednesday” approach again. 🙂
So as you glance at the example schedules below for Wednesday, you will essentially see one main subject – writing.
- I sometimes put grammar on Wednesdays but in this week’s examples, you’ll find that subject over in Tuesday instead and French on Wednesdays in its place. (French is a subject mainly about communication skills.)
- At least one year, I had a once-a-week “expand vocabulary” section where we could go over some interesting new words for example, from novels or history or science terms. (For some families, this might be a spelling-type of class.)
- When I did not have the upper level of students, we had more of a “Writing Wednesday” in the morning but then learned other subjects in the afternoons.
- Otherwise, the subjects are just “homework type of things” (e.g. spelling, a math page or 2 on a skill that has already been taught – nothing really new today) that can fit in whenever a student wants a bit of a break from going through the steps of the writing process.
Also on Wednesdays, you could add “breaks” from writing with audio stories or physical activities outdoors. But my plan is to not focus on anything other than writing and communication skills (which includes French or grammar too some years). (With the curriculum I use, I also don’t tend to spend a lot of time “teaching” it, so Wednesdays also can be a day when I can get some writing done too. :-))
This is an older schedule (photo on right) – when everyone was still in elementary years and I only tended to focus on either the writing skills for primary grades OR the writing skills for the junior/senior elementary grades, not both on the same week.
Extra Idea: Around that time years ago, I also made up individual “large bookmarks” (printed on cardstock) for each student. It told them specifically what they should be working on for a particular day, when they were to be together and when they might have time to do something on their own. We stored them in colour-co-ordinated library card pockets – purchased or made from coloured paper. My older kids still ask for these and it helps them, now that they have subjects which are electives or different than elementary levels.
OK, for a closer look at Mommy’s List for Wednesday – the tasks which I can aim for…
(Yes, a grade 3 kid can have a lot of fun teaching a younger sibling something that is easy! Mom’s part in it just might need to glance over to make sure the preschooler is actually doing the circling of the answer or counting the counters, and not just the “junior teacher”. That is why I remind myself to “oversee” this portion of the day.)
French can either be taught together or on their own with a CD or both. The program we like the best is Mission Monde by MFB Publications and it is sold in our online shop here.
(Note: This French curriculum could also be arranged to be a daily lesson sort of schedule.)
Writing – there are 2 main resources which we use for grades 1-8 and both are available in e-book version (and currently we have a few left of the first edition for the primary levels):
which is designed for grades 4/5-12 and useful grade after grade.
which is designed for grades 1-3 – all three grades in one helpful resource.
Both of these curriculum resources can be used in book/binder format but we like to make it more a “hands-on” style by presenting the skills/assignments on a presentation board that gets pulled out, easily set up on a table (or on the floor) each week. It is soooo easy and fun to use this way and so easy to store between or behind furniture! Click on those links (above) to find out more about these “Peppermint Stick” curriculum resources!
Spelling – see Tuesday’s post for the titles we use
“Geography” (or History) – see Monday’s post for links to examples of what resources we use. See our Four Year Rotation Planner here for what we use on other years when we aren’t doing geography unit(s) such as when we learn more about world or Canadian history or the socials/government studies. About HISTORY: My personal preference is not to have history on a Monday morning – I like to be more active in the mornings and history tends to be a “sit down” topic. When we have history units in our family, these usually end up getting accomplished in an afternoon time period, such as on a Wednesday afternoon.
About SPELLING: Just one more note just before I put up the button to click on for your free printable today… 🙂
For the example schedule I’ve shown in today’s post, I did put “spelling parts C & D” of the weekly lesson on Wednesdays. Sometimes I’ve taken spelling out of Wednesdays as well but generally, the curriculum that I’m use is easily understood by the student and I don’t need to be interrupted while teaching or modelling a writing skill to one group with questions about spelling so it is fine for them to go do those independently on Wednesdays whenever they like to fit that in during that day.
However, I will admit that one afternoon, Dandelion (webname) did indeed need me to explain something in his spelling lesson… his little brother was still napping when I heard “bang-twang-BANG-TWANG” GETTING LOUDER AND COMING FROM MY KITCHEN!!!
“What ARE you doing?” I queried, still amazed at his boldness to continue to crash two of my pot lids together.
“Oh,” he replied calmly, with such a sweet smile beaming across his face and announcing with an increasingly important and pleased-with-himself tone of voice. “I’m doing my spelling! It says I’m to do this right in the book!”
Now, keep in mind, that I had written that curriculum and that declaration made me very puzzled – I hadn’t remembered instructing children to bang lids together for spelling – I was sure I hadn’t done that!
“OK, hold it a minute,” I said, “WHERE does it say THAT?”
“Right here! It says I’m to clap cymbals for each word.”
Dandelion pointed to a sentence of instructions:
“Clap the syllables for each word….”
So yes, on occasion, you might need to help someone with spelling, even on a Writing Wednesday! 🙂