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How to Pace Books

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I am often asked about my schedules and how we pace our reading out throughout the school year.  Many home schoolers on the AO list are familiar with my hyper-scheduling tendency and often when I post advice to the list, it comes across as though we are super scheduled and every day is a perfect school day.  This is just not an accurate description of our school and I decided that I probably should type up our method here on the website to give some clarification to how we do school.

First off, please note that I am unique in that I only have to schedule one child, who happens to be a pre-teen and is fairly independent.  I am not sure I could even plan out schedules for two or more children and so please just take my advice and comments 'for what they are worth.'  If you find them helpful, then I am blessed!

Pacing Method

We are satisfied with our method for pacing books and reading based on timed sessions.  This method works really well for us and probably can be adapted to suit anyone but just know that I developed this method for use with our son (who is a gifted student).  If you find this method helpful in your school, I would love to know about it!

How to pace the books - the AO reading choices are usually fairly significant books, meaning that they are not short nor are they easy readers.  With that said, it is necessary to pace both the book and the student to ensure that the entire reading assignment can be completed.  I developed this method of figuring out how many words per minute can be read after reading about it online on a speed-reading website.  It is also very similar to a method that was used during my Jr. High School years when I participated in a Reading Study.

The first thing you need to do is figure out how many words per minute your child can read.  You can either use a book and timer or print a page offline (from a school e-book) and have your child read it.  You can count the words on the page and then estimate how many minutes it takes them to read from top to bottom.  For older students it is easier to time them and just see how many pages they can read in X amount of minutes.

In our case, I determined that 30 minutes was the time-frame I wanted to use to schedule my son's reading.  I felt that 30 minutes was a doable chunk of time and that it allowed enough time to read several pages in a book.  I had my son read one of his books and after 30 minutes asked him how many pages he had read.  We repeated this same process several times, using different types of books.  He read about 10 pages in history, literature and natural science books in 30 minutes.  Once I knew his target number, then it made it easier to pace out his books.

At the beginning of each term, I scan the table of contents of each book we are going to read and place this page in my binder.  This gives me a guideline to follow and also a way to mark our progress.  Then I look at each book and determine how many pages are in each chapter.  If there are 10-12 pages, then this is a book my son can read in one week.  If there are 20 pages, then we break this book into 2 weekly readings.  

Keeping on Schedule - the only problem with pacing a student is that it is very difficult to keep to a regulated schedule (ex. 12 week terms).  We read books and we don't stop until we finish them.  A book might take us all term or maybe longer.  Our school year might take longer than 36 weeks.  I don't worry about this anymore as we school year-round and take breaks as we need them rather than at fixed times during the year.  

At the end of each week, I highlight the books TOC page in my binder to show where we are.  For chapters that take more than one week, I put the number 2 or 3 next to the chapter title.  This lets me know that we will be reading that chapter for more than one week.


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