June 05, 2012

Doing What Works

Quote in a magazine... #quilling #quote #inspiration

Through this past decade or more of homeschooling, I've tried a lot of things to help us in our quest to 'get school done' and keep track of what we are doing. We've done daily white board lists, assignment binder systems, assignment sheets that mom printed, lesson planners that I filled out as we went along, just reading through our books and not really following a lesson plan because we knew what books we wanted to finish, and laminated flip charts with pictures. I've used baseball card holders with assignments stuck in them, peg board chore charts, iPhone apps, hand-written daily lists, elaborate worksheets that I have created or others created, and Homeschool Tracker software. We used a few different versions of workboxes (school boxes or drawers), too. I sometimes revert to one or more of these methods to change things up, but I find that I always fall back on low-tech lesson planning: good old fashioned paper and pen.

Even while I keep all of my graded work and records in Homeschool Tracker, I still enjoy writing out our weekly requirements. There's something cathartic about actually WRITING something out. It helps me get my mind around what all we have to accomplish during the week. It reminds me of my own school days. It connects me with my to-do list in a way that is tangible. Best of all, it seems to be the one thing that really helps keep the kids on task better than all of my expensive, detailed, complicated 'programs' and processes I tried to implement.

Lately, I've been in a weekly rather than daily mode for my list-making. I include our daily chores in one section, our weekly appointments in another, and then a list for mom and a school list for kids - all on one sheet of paper. How simple is that? I make notes on this list through the week and the kids add check marks for completed items (at the end of the week, some items have 5 checks). The hard part is making sure we don't misplace the notebook that contains our list if we end up taking some school on the road.

For those of you that like to see an example of our simple "what works for us right now" list, here's this week (mind you, this is a week's worth of work - not a day):

make worksheet copies (MOH final review, AC p.25 for binders)
post Kaden's last book report
add finished work to Tracker/enrichment club presentations from last week
cut in the paint on the kitchen/hall walls
Bible Study books procured

Blog Chat with Lisa this weekend, Help mom w/ tire & yard
7 year blogiversary Friday
Art class Friday

breakfast, kitchen
teeth, dressed
avoid distractions
gather, sort, rotate laundry
dishes, help w/ lunch
laundry folded, put away
clean rooms
help w/ dinner, dishes, floor, counters
cook or bake
extra chores: bathrooms, vacuuming, sheets, refrigerator, closets

Mapping MOH
Final Review 1-27 MOH
Haley's Bible Handbook
AC: p. 46
Chronology wksht in history binder
VC cards: green 3 & 4, purple 36 & 37, review order
Finish OWH 103-111
Chapter books on historical period
Iliad - keep reading
MOH Lesson 28
SOTAW 131-136 Sampson
OWH 112-121 Mid East & Test
UWH 142-143 Hebrews
Discussion p. 126 rationalizing powers

thank you cards
last few math pages, make sure graded and recorded
work on memory verse work : Psalm 90:10-17
practice piano
ch 8-12 Raising Maidens of Virtue
Psalm 96-105
24 Family Ways 3:1-6
Write 10 fave Proverbs in prayer journals
Write sponsored child : India
Read Science 241-263
Practice Piano

I don't have to add things like drawing and gardening since lately, every time I turn around, one of the teens is sneaking off to pick weeds and spend time outdoors - or doodling with some new art supply. This week charcoal was the favorite - which made for lots of smudges after the babies discovered that big sis had left the supplies unattended on the dining room table.

I used to have little charts with goals that were character related back in the days when time was not so fleeting. Little people under foot make for much less thoughtful teacher planning time. I've been thinking this week about resurrecting those lists, though. I think each of us could work on some character trait issues. Big kids and mom included. For one thing, I'd really like to do less lecturing and more praising. I tend to turn in to a monster when the chores are not done properly and things are left around the house where they don't belong. The three year old is working on potty training (which makes our days even more interesting than usual - and the carpet a lot uglier). Tiny tot is needing to do a little less nursing and a little more eating of solid food - working on figuring out a way to wean him gently since he prefers milk to pretty much anything (and he's 16 months old already). Biggest dude needs to work on doing things without delay, and taking less time to get tasks completed. Girlie-monster needs to work on less complaining and remembering to pick up the things she gets out (which she gets honest from a certain man in the house who stubbed his toe on his workboots this weekend).

We all have our mountains to climb, don't we? Good thing we have a God big enough for all these monumental tasks.

I heart them. ❤

I love it when you are trudging along and you get a glimpse at the much bigger purpose...

"The most important decision anyone is every called on to make is to settle in one's heart, once and for all, the matter of one's attitude toward Christ.

On that depends everything.

It is a glorious thing to be a Christian, the most exalted privilege of mankind."

That was a snip of our devotional reading today in Halley's Bible Handbook. And so we shake off our medicine head (the cedar mulch and garden herb harvesting this past weekend has done a number on all of us), and we stick our noses back in our books... in between mediating fights over toys and filling tiny tummies with snacks to ward off nap-time crankiness.

This is what works right now. However slow and methodical it might seem.

What works for you? I'd love to read your ideas and thoughts about your homeschool journey as it is right now laid out before you...

Keep trudging along, mama of many homeschoolish kids. You aren't alone!

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EagleNestMom said...

I could write a very similar post to yours ... so of course I LOVED it and put a link to it from my blog to share with my meager readers.

Our school runs a lot the same - but right now we are in a sort of electronic mode. I've got 2 in high school, and 2 just starting at the bottom with nothing in between. I'm finding this quite awkward.

We are also temporarily displaced, so I keep loosing and forgetting things.

Perseverance and Patience - One step in front of the other.

Tiffany said...

It's good to hear from others in the trenches. I guess following my routine and doing things regularly helps me the most. Speaking of which I need to get off the computer and change the load from the washer to the dryer.

Whit said...

I too have recently started looking at things by the week...I was doing monthly planning before that. In our world, planning a month out is next to impossible. I realized that it was causing unwelcome anxiety when things didn't go as planned. Especially this summer, I am really trying to go more with the flow than plan every moment.
Is that the art class that is one Friday a month?! You mentioned it before and I plum forgot. Do you have a link to that class??

Debbie said...

Like you - I have tried everything in the way of lesson planning. I buy a great lesson plan book, use it for a few weeks, then revert to something else I've already put aside once. Maybe one day I'll figure out what actually works and stick with it.

I have a 13 year old son - my last one to homeschool - who needs lessons in getting in gear! That's my main hope and objective this summer:)



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