Thursday, February 9, 2012

Reorganized Our Homeschool

Seems like I am always reorganizing something or other in our home.
Must be the "type A" area of my personality. I am always looking for
something more efficient. Well, I think I have stumbled onto something

Another Mom emailed to me how she organizes the assignments for her 6
children that she homeschools. My first thought was this had to be
good. I admire any Mom who takes on the challenge of homeschooling a
large family. She assured me that her method, though time consuming to
set up, was a blessing in her family. I gave her method a little test
and am thrilled with the results. Interested? Here is what I did.

For each child, you will need the following supplies:

* A file crate that holds hanging files
* Hanging files
* Manila file folders
* 4 x 6 Index Cards

The first step is to place a hanging file in the crate for each week
that you homeschool. In our state, schools are in session 5 days a week
for 40 weeks, so I would have 45 hanging files since we do academics 4
days a week. Number the hanging files 1-45.

Next, place into each hanging file a manila folder for each day that you
homeschool. Since we do academics 4 days per week, so there are 4 file
folders in each hanging file. You can either label the file folders
according to the days you homeschool or simply label as day 1, day 2,
etc. for each week.

That is the initial prep work to get your files ready. Now it is time
to get the assignments planned. Because she has so many children to
homeschool, she takes a couple of weeks to do this part. I found that I
can do Little Miss' lesson plans in about 2 hours for each month if the
kids are asleep or otherwise occupied.

She recommended tearing pages out of their workbooks. I found that in
the way Little Miss' workbooks are planned out, that she will work on
one side of the page one day and then the remaining side the next day.
This is fine, just be sure to transfer the sheet to the next folder at
the end of each day. She places the workbook pages, printed out
worksheets, lapbook items, etc., into each day's folders. In her lesson
planner, she records each assignment given.

For textbooks, reading assignments, or other assignments that cannot be
torn from a workbook, she uses index cards. On the card, write the book
or subject name, pages to be read, and any assignment for that subject.
i.e. in a History textbook she may assign a set of pages to be read one
day, assign that the chapter questions/vocabulary be done the next day,
and an outline be done another day.

For a lapbook, you would place the components (mini book, vocabulary
list, paper for drawing a picture or a report to be added, etc) into the
file folders for each day. This way, you are providing all of the
paper-based components for the lapbook with instructions, if needed, for
each part. In our family, since we do academics mainly 4 days per week,
the finishing or assembly of the lapbook would be on day 5.

As with the worksheets, she records each day's assignments into a lesson
planner for her own records. This part takes the most time but once
done, your child's entire school year is planned out. She mentioned
that there are times when they have had an extra busy weekend and having
the lessons pre-planned was a blessing. On Monday, she simply pulled
out the file for each child and they were ready to go.

With Little Miss, I took the plan a step further. In her work tote, I
placed pocket portfolios for each day. In the evening, I place the next
day's schoolwork into that day's portfolio. When she works on her
assignments, she moves the completed work into the other pocket of the
portfolio. When the worksheets/assignments pocket is empty, she knows
her work is done for the day. If I really wanted to, I could place a
week's worth of assignments into the portfolios. Then, her entire week
is prepped and ready for her. She would just take out the current day's
portfolio and complete the work inside. Having the work for each day in
it's own portfolio makes it easier to stay organized for when I grade
the work. I grade her papers twice a week. Without having each day's
work separated into its own portfolio, I would be sorting them from a
stack and possibly end up missing a paper or two.

I only prepared a month's worth of assignments using this method. I
wanted to give it a test before getting it all planned out and possibly
finding that it didn't fit into our routine as well as her family's.
After trying it out, I am thrilled with the results. Yes, it does take
a lot of time and effort to plan it all out, but it was worth every
moment spent. I am already seeing the benefits to this method. When
planting season arrives, or during other busy times on our homestead,
having the lessons already planned out and made ready will take some of
the stress off. I will be able to devote more time to the other tasks.

I have been asked why we only homeschool 4 days per week. The answer is
a simple one. We homeschool year round. We don't take the long school
breaks or vacations. The children have their days off from school on
Sundays or when Daddy is home from the road. Rarely do we homeschool
when he is home as we want to have as much family time as possible. I
like to reserve one day each week as an activity day, which is usually
on Fridays. Friday happens to be a payday, so errands are often run on
that day. While out running errands, we often stop at a library so that
Little Miss and Little Man can play educational games on the computer
for a little while. I also use that time to gather more books for
them. Little Miss is doing the Keepers of the Faith program for girls
ages 4-6 called "Little Keepers at Home". It is activity based and
focuses on not only academics, but on life skills and character traits
that are based on Biblical ideals. If we are not out running errands,
she has Fridays to work on her Little Keepers activities. As previously
mentioned, we can also use that day for assembling any lapbook that we
may have worked on that week. When you factor in that our homeschool
year is 45 weeks long and include the bonus days, we end up doing some
form of schoolwork 225 days per year instead of the 180 the state requires.