Sunday, May 16, 2010

Another school year is over…

which means planning time for Mom! Man have I been busy, busy, busy. I am attempting something I have never attempted before, I am planning out our year a semester at a time. Why? There are several reasons, but the most important one is this: it’s time for an overhaul! (I know, I know, I am always changing things up.)

Hubby and I were talking last week about the state of our little homeschool, and there are some things that we are both unhappy with. So after talking about these things and throwing out some ideas, we have a new plan for this year.

First of all, workboxes are out. Too much weekly/daily prep for me, too little time and energy actually spent on getting things done. We have slowly been falling behind for the past 2 years and enough is enough! We have to get back on track and QUICK.

I am also concerned that I am not giving my boys enough opportunities to be responsible for their own work. Drew is 10 now and there is no reason why I should have to babysit him through every assignment. He can read well and should be doing the bulk of his work independently.So out with the workboxes and in with a new system that will allow the boys to go off on their own, materials in hand and do what they can on their own. With the help of a good friend, I have tweaked my old binder system to help meet our goals for the year.


I am in the process of making lesson plans for every subject for our first semester. I am almost finished with this part of the process. These lesson plans are broken down by subject into 6-week terms, one term/subject  to a page. Each boy’s binder has a tab for each subject they are doing this year. Behind some tabs I have minioffice printables in page protectors. These hold things like a multiplications table for math and an editing checklist for composition. Then behind these I have placed the 6-week lesson plan for that subject. The only dates on these are the dates of the term, so they can work ahead if they want or do 2 assignments every other day. This will enable them to have a bit more control (and responsibility) over their work. Most importantly, each section has all the work they will need to complete for that term, so they can just move through the stack of pages, paper clipping the pages together as they finish them.

The front of the binder also holds a calendar of the current month and a calendar showing our entire school year mapped out. In the front pocket are a stack of copies of daily assignment sheets. I custom made these:

Daily Assignment Grid

I actually made one of these for each of my boys with their subjects typed into the boxes. But you can use this one if you want to. When they start school for the day they will take out one of these sheets and fill it out buy going through each section of their binder and finding that day’s work. Since all my lessons plans are undated this will be an easy way for them to see all their work for the day in one place and check things off as they go through it.

My hope is that our days will change a lot with this system. I will set aside an hour or so each day to work one on one with each of them, covering new concepts and the items they can’t do independently. When I am working with one, the other will be able to take his binder into another quiet area of the house and go through his independent work. Then we will still have an hour set aside at the end of the day to cover the material we do together such as some of our Tapestry work, devotions, projects, etc. They will have until this time to complete their other work. Then after we finish our group work, the school day is over! However, if they have not used their time wisely and have not finished their other work in the allotted time, they will go back and finish it before they are given their free time.

The other very important component of this system involves a file bin and lots of hanging folders. My goal is to have 2 terms ahead planned and all of the papers printed, copied and torn out and stuck into a folder. I have labeled a folder for each of the boys for each term, and the work will go into those. This way at the end of the term, I just have to get out the stack of papers and new term lesson plans and stick them in the proper section of their binders. Their finished work from each term will be put back into that folder when we start a new term,

I am also setting aside separate folders for each week of Tapestry to hold all the printables and worksheets we will need for each week plan. I want to have these done for the entire year. Why? I am always finding useful links and printables on things we haven’t started studying yet. I end up bookmarking them or printing them off and loosing them, and then we never get to use them. This way I can put things in the files as I find them. Then they will be there waiting when we get to that week plan.

Wow, what a long post this has turned out to be! I guess I should wrap it up and get back to work :)



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