August 18, 2006

Back to School Interview with Sprittibee: Schedules, etc.

There's only days until school starts and I have to start getting on a more rigid schedule. My mind is going 100 miles per hour right now gearing up for next week. After buying some curriculum and a teacher's lesson planner and record book yesterday, I sat down to my email last night and answered some co-op friends' questions regarding my plans for this school year. We have a few co-op moms who are new to homeschooling in our group... so they wanted everyone to list what they do for curriculum, schedules, TV, etc. I am a list maker... and my brain works much better when forced to WRITE things down. I am very visual with words - preferring to read them rather than just listen to them. I can write directions to someone's house and internalize them so that I don't even need to bring the paper along with me! Making a list out each week and a daily school lesson plan out on paper keeps my brain in gear. I have a ton of things I wanted to post in here today, but in case any of you are starting school up next week, too... I thought I would post what I wrote last night for co-op.

So, here's a homeschool "interview with Sprittibee". The bolded questions were from a co-op group member. Answers are mine. Enjoy!


I am wondering - how do you start your day?

Best answer - With God bright and early before the kids are up (prayer journal/coffee/seeing hubby off/reading bible & devo/getting ready before breakfast for kids). Worst answer - crawling out of bed late, starting school late and feeling like a looser.

Last year, I varied between the two extremes depending on the day of week. Granted, it was a hard year with all our upsets (moving out of state, etc) and Daddy's schedule did not help (erratic days off, working odd hours and late nights). This year, I am going to make a concerted effort to stay close to the BEST answer all year (no matter what Daddy's work hours or days are). I feel that if I could be on time for all those years at WORK, don't I owe that to God when I'm doing HIS work in educating my kids? That's my motivation this year. I think if I'm trying to teach character traits it is most important that I MODEL THEM. Responsibility, Obedience, Attentiveness, Honor, Stewardship, Orderliness.... I mean, isn't that the point of KONOS? Isn't that our purpose?! So, I'm giving myself a big slap on the hand and this year, we're striving to really change our bad habits.

Proverbs 10:26 - As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.
Colossians 3:23 - Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...

Do you "switch" from being just Mom to being Teacher, like a separate personality?
Not really - But I do think that setting "classroom" rules and set school times are helpful. I read some wonderful advice about setting rules and consequences and this year we are letting the kids punish themselves. We're going to make a chart (they are helping) with our family rules, our school rules, and all the consequences for breaking each rule. We're going to hang it up and make a sticker chart for them that corresponds with it. When they break a rule, I am simply going to refer them to the chart to go find out what their punishment is. They will mark their own behavior charts for when they get punishments and when the punishment is complete, they can put a check by it. Days where they do not break rules will be sticker days. If they get an entire week's worth of sticker days, we'll come up with some kind of reward or tie that in to allowance somehow. The rules will include STAYING ON TASK and COMPLETING ASSIGNMENTS ON TIME and FINISHING ALL ASSIGNED SCHOOL WORK FOR THE DAY.

Do you have an official school room or area?YES/NO - Before, when we lived in a BIG FAT house, we had an extra room (formal dining that we converted to a school room) for school. Those days are long gone and we are in a tiny 2 bedroom apartment right now. We have to use every room it seems for multiple purposes. The kids even have to share a bedroom. Our bedroom is also the office/computer room (they do typing and computer games, look up things on the computer for papers or vocabulary, and sometimes sit on my king-size bed and spread out to do assignments or read). The breakfast/dining room (which is really part of our living area as well) doubles as a "library" (two book cases), craft room (corner piled with supplies and school stuff), and school room (they do Math at the table and sometimes Language and writing at their "desks" - which is really my table). This is not ideal, but it has to do for now. I suggest having ALL YOUR BOOKS in one room and ALL YOUR SCHOOL SUPPLIES in one area - even if you have to keep them all in an enclosed armiore in the dining room. Someone on one of my KONOS email lists suggested color coding your kid's supplies so you automatically know who left what out! I'm not THAT organized... YET... but it sounds great!

Do you decorate it up like a classroom at all?
YES/NO - I did used to decorate my school room with posters and things we made, book cases, a globe, maps, a white-board (dry erase), and other things. In our little apartment, I keep the maps over our bed and my computer desk in the bedroom now, the white board in the children's bedroom over their beds, and I put calendars and schedules/rules wherever we can find a spot for the moment. Again, it is not an ideal set-up by any means.

Do you use any separate Bible study for your kids/family?
Yes - We have done many different things in the past. The kids obviously go to Sunday School, Wednesday Night Class, and Kaden has done Leadership classes at church this year. But in our homeschool environment we do prayer journals daily (I don't take these up and let the kids write whatever they want - and sometimes they glue stuff in them and draw in them), Bible reading (through the Bible, and hopefully this year we will be more consistent and at least get all the way through the OT), Bible memory (usually KONOS related) - one verse per week, practice writing all the books of the Bible weekly (to help memorize and spell), singing Bible books (NT song), Praise and Worship songs (sometimes Bible related), reading Bible stories (usually related to KONOS), reading devotionals daily or every other day (I go through many different books - last year we did Prayer of Jabez for Kids, and parts of my devotionals that I shared with the kids). Kids can understand deep spiritual truths! This year we're reading through DC Talk's book "Jesus Freaks" as our devotionals. We also do daily Bible drills where I let the kids search for the KONOS Bible verses or their memory verse and I time them. I write their times down each day. This prepares them to find verses on their own at church. I was so impressed this past week when Kaden was able to quickly find his verse in his leadership training in front of the preacher and his peers so he could read on the pulpit for his class!!! All those drills paid off this year!!! What are we going to do different for this topic (the most important topic) THIS YEAR? We are finally going to start an actual BIBLE STUDY CURRICULUM. I have links to some on my blog in other posts. I am also planning to buy "PICTURE THIS" as soon as I can afford it so we can do the Old Testament this year (manual only - about 60$).

Do you allow TV watching? How much?

NO. We don't get cable and don't get regular TV channels without a lot of hard work maneuvering the rabbit ears around. We only watch movies we rent from Netflix. Most of those are related to our units during the school year. I usually rent 2 kids movies and 1 grown-up movie for Kev and I at a time (3 out at once). Then we mail them back and get a new set mailed to us. This works, but is slower than driving down to Blockbuster. We try and do cards or computer games on nights when the movies are in transit. In fact, the kids have played WAY TOO much computer games since we've moved into this apartment. Their daddy loves to play computer games with them. He and the kids have been mind-melded by Lego Star Wars and Lord of the Rings PC Game. I'm surrounded, and am not quite sure what to do about it. During school, however, we really crack down on the "screen time". This year's goals are to have a SET BEDTIME (10:00PM for kids) and LIMITED PC TIME. Last year I did a star chart for earning screen time, but by the end of the year, we fizzled out. Maybe I'll revive the star chart system this year. I'll be thinking about that this weekend as I get my final planning done.

Do you require kids to do chores?

EMPHATIC YES! They do chores daily. Every day of the week (less on Sunday):

Here's their list:
1. Clean room
2. Make bed
3. Get dressed
4. Put on socks and shoes
5. Brush teeth
6. Eat breakfast
7. Clean up table and kitchen after breakfast
8. Do schoolwork
9. Eat lunch
10. Clean up table and kitchen after lunch
11. Clean up floor under table and sweep bathroom to make sure no cat litter on floor 12. Feed cat if bowl is empty
13. Help with laundry
14. Clean up school stuff/tidy house before Daddy comes home
15. Help cook or set table (depends on Mom's choice)
16. Clean up table and kitchen after dinner
17. Tidy house before bed
18. Take showers, put on pajamas, set out tomorrow's clothes
19. Clean up toys/room before bed
20. Bedtime prayers/Family Read-Aloud

Do they get allowance?
YES/NO - This past year, no. We had no money left to give them... and everything is tight right now. I would like to do this, however. We had money jars for them a couple of years ago. We had them decorate money jars with stickers. They had three jars each - SAVE, TITHE, and SPEND. They had to put 10% in each TITHE and SAVE, and they could put the rest in their spending bank. This was a great method and they remembered to take their change to church on Sunday! Too bad we've really slipped away from that this year for them. I'd like to do it again.

About my Homeschool Schedule...

It talks a lot about scheduling in the KONOS Compass. I HIGHLY suggest the book. It is as important as the Volumes in my eyes. In the Compass, they have a blank time-block schedule that you can use to copy and write in to work with and pencil in things and move them around as you begin your year so you can see what works best for you. If you actually set the things you need to get done every day down to paper (including time for chores, eating and hygiene), it will surprise you by how little time there is in a day! Last year, I did my schedule on paper and saw that I really needed to get up at 6:30AM with Kev so I would have time to get everything in, cook, and give the kids time to play in the evening a little before bed. I seem to never be able to get it all done, though (such is life as a homeschool mother). I'm not sure there has ever been a day when we've accomplished EVERYTHING on my lesson plan list. I tend to over-plan, though (my lists are extra-long)... and just move it to the next day if it doesn't get done. I am working on planning less (simplifying) and being more realistic this year. :) It is a good feeling to cross things off since I'm a list person, so giving myself a more practical list is bound to boost my moral.

My Homeschool Curriculums this year...
  • KONOS of course.

  • Bible (stuff I mentioned above)

  • Reading - Library Books (KONOS related), Family Read Aloud, Bible Reading

  • Educational Computer Games/Typing

  • PE (walk, bikes, swim, gym with mom & dad)

  • Foreign Language - Latin Workbooks, Italian or Spanish (not sure... will buy soon)

  • Writing/English - practice cursive, creative writing (KONOS related), language/reports (through KONOS Compass & free worksheets online), Draw, Write Now! (for handwriting), poetry reading and writing (KONOS related), Journals (daily), rewriting misspelled words each week, KONOS vocabulary (& vocabulary activities/worksheets), Pen pals & correspondence with family/friends, copy work

  • History - KONOS, Reading A Beka textbook & doing tests/questions, library books, field trips

  • Science - KONOS, Reading A Beka textbook & doing questions/tests, Reading A Beka health book & tests/questions, field trips

  • Lifeskills - Home economics through chores/cooking (Family Fun kid recipes and help with dinner/etc.), service projects

  • Art - Bible art program ('Picture This'), Draw, Write Now! (also handwriting above), Crafts (usually KONOS related, many from, Drawing in prayer journals, looking at paintings online

  • Geography - Visualize World Geography, KONOS, Library books, Maps, A Beka History Map book & tests/quizzes

I can't ever get all of that done in one day, but I'm still working out how the day/week's schedule will go. I know one thing... KONOS will go first after chores and Bible. Math will go last (because I have a son who has a hard time getting worksheets done without lolly-gagging and it's not fair to his sister if we don't get to do the fun part of school because her brother takes too long). I'll also probably alternate subjects with heavy loads on separate days to keep the kids from burning out with too much seatwork. Just trying to get all of that done in one day is enough to make my teeth rattle. I'm working on a reasonable requirement list and schedule and hope to have it ironed out with goals and time-frames by the end of the weekend.


Care to link this post to your scheduling posts for 2006-7? I'd love for you to post a link to your schedules/curriculum discussions in my comments section. Have at it!

Buzz Words: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Andrew McAllister said...

That must be a challenge to "switch hats" when it is time to become the teacher, and to do it day after day. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Obviously lots and lots of people do it :o)
To Love, Honor and Dismay

Anonymous said...

You're invited to participate in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective New School Years" to encourage new homeschoolers or those needing a pep talk for the new year!

Just share what works in your home,,,,we're always learning from one another.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Andrew, you have an interesting site. It is very natural to be a teacher to the kids if you start out that way like we have. My kids only had one year in "school" - Kindergarten and Preschool. I can imagine that it would be much harder for someone who is bringing them home from school after they have gone for a while. That would be harder for both kid and parent, I assume.

Maureen - will hop over and check it out. Thanks!

Admin said...

Here is my link to my "2nd week of school post". I include some pictures and some information on scheduling. I didn't really do a scheduling post this year.

Admin said...

Well, the link got cut off, so I did a tiny url:

TheNormalMiddle said...

This is our plan for now...feeling confident about it...trying to stick with the BEST plan as you wrote, getting up and getting going in the mornings.

Hey, I don't do KONOS but I must say every time Jessica Hulcy has spoken at NCHE she has made me want to do KONOS! :) Maybe when I have all 3 kids in school and they're a tad older. Right now we just have the 1st grader and 2 preschoolers.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Thank you for everything! Love ~ Patricia

Anonymous said...

My ds is crazy about legos and Star Wars. He loves the computer game.

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Christina and Lindsey! Lookin' good!

Happy school year!!!!

You are most welcome, Patricia! Loved your final draft!

KarenW - thanks for the comment... at least I know there's someone out there who understands what it is like to be surrounded by three people who absolutely live-sleep-eat-breathe Star Wars! My husband is worse than the kids and if I leave them alone on a day off, I'll end up watching one of the 6 movies AGAIN! Idle time ends up with wookies and ewoks if I'm not careful. ;)



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