From the past week, one pattern became clear, at least with 8 yo: whichever subject he's involved in, he wants to be doing it for a longer period of time than I have allocated. If he is doing handwriting, he wants to do a few pages, not just one. If he is writing in his journal, he wants to write till he's done, not for traditional 15 minutes ( he probably needs those 15 minutes just to compose his thoughts and get creative juices flowing). If he's doing math, he needs however long it will take. If he's reading history, he wants to finish the book... well, that would take a whole day.
So I am thinking about switching him to more of a block schedule. Instead of assigning 6-8 different areas to do each day, I am planning on assigning 2-3, but letting him do a week's worth in that time. For now, it will be my responsibility to make sure that over the course of the week, we touched on a variety of skills, but my ultimate goal is for him to monitor his own progress.
And progress takes a long time.
Skill acquisition takes a long time. Learning something new takes a long time. Adjusting into a new routine, getting used to schoolwork, integrating informal learning with formal learning-- all of these require time and patience, both from me and from the kids.
I am also strongly thinking about following their lead, their interests and their strengths for now. They have the best concentration when they are engaged in what they want to be doing, and they feel good about themselves when they succeed in those areas. They do not need my chiding or cheerleading, they are their own worst critics and enthusiasts.