Each year I lightened up more and more until the two older ones were totally independent. I would post "hours" that they had to complete, for example in one week do 5 reading/writing hours, 4 Social Studies, 4 Math, 4 history, 2 gym, etc. I would make these big charts in colors that they would mark off as they logged in their "time." That worked as long as I kept it up. Because I wasn't paying for private schools, I was able to enroll one in a local conservatory. The two older I put in weekly art classes for two years, meeting three times a week for an hour and a half. My walls can prove it as they are lined by their oil paintings. Really! They took an airbrush class, Dale Carnegie, Japanese, Greek, Philosophy, and Psychology at local universities. They surpassed the average--acing out there older "more mature" classmates. My 16 year old commented how kids in class hardly made comments when the professor would ask them. Teachers have commented to me how they observe my boys to be independent learners, confident...That helps encourage the lonely homeschooling family. Thank God the researchers stand behind us--on those days when you wonder--what am I doing to my kids, ha ha. Actually I am tempted to have those awful thoughts about my youngest---now 12.
My youngest has ALWAYS struggled with anything remotely typical to your average schooling. He is dyslexic, extremely kinesthetic. He was diagnosed in kindergarten as ADHD. but I have found that he is quite able to concentrate on those things that interest him. He has become chess champion in the local chess academy I enrolled him in, competing now nationally (we live in Ecuador). How he can sit for hours at a time, moving those little pieces around a board...and not GET bORED. is beyond me. He HATES worksheets. I do them regularly just to "show" the imaginary authority somewhere that he is "progressing."
But ds is a hands-on creature. For Science he refused to follow anyone else' prepackaged experiment. He wanted to create his own--make his own discoveries. So, it wasn't easy to go through a checklist of stuff you'd done, so to speak. His writing is awful. He forgets how to read if I skip ONE day of reading with him. Yet he orally creates entire novels pacing back and forth adding change of voices dialogue... I've gotten him on tape and film. It is amazing. I decided that's okay to tape his creations. Once we even got it passed to computer. He dictated and I typed. I couldn't type fast enough. Then we went through the editing process. Reading it aloud to him, he'd change, revise. Refine. We're up to ten chapters on that project... I got tired before HE did.
The two older guys have since "graduated." The second is just about 17, was finishing 11th grade. I was looking through their portfolios the other day as I'm trying to get the oldest into a stateside college and realized that my second guy has 34 credits! Well, we declared that he was graduated.
The younger guy (now 12) still struggles with reading, though there is steady improvement. He still needs one on one to complete tasks, though. His brothers at his age were totally independent. But, they are different kids.
So my schedule with J. is usually 10-12noon one on one time. Besides that he has to watch Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, or something else "educational" on TV if our schedule varies, or he gets up and around before then. He continues with chess three times a week.
I've moved to the point of believing more in unschooling, to be honest. The truth is that each kid had a different style and need for a different kind of schooling. What they seemed to enjoy the most--especially at the beginning was unit studies that each could work on similar subjects at their own levels. I keep pushing them to take responsibility for their own education. In the end, that is REAL LEARNING, I think.
As far as reading and writing, I've ALWAYS believed you don't need ANY text for that. Read to them. GEt them to discover cool books. Get them to write daily in journals, make up stories, books, illustrate them. That is MUCH more than most (if not ALL) schools are doing--just ask around!
I find that 2 hours a day of one on one --done consistently --does it. I want to lead my boys to independent studying, studying for the love of learning.
~ Jules in Ecuador