Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How we do it: part 2

First of all, I need to tell you all very frankly that I am NOT an organized person by nature! In fact, for those of you who have suggested such, all my family and childhood friends are laughing their heads off at the suggestion!!! Thank you for making them so gleeful. :-)

I have spent my life disorganized. I don't know about ADD. I refuse to label myself like that; it is probably way to extreme anyway. I will say that I have had to carefully think of ways to cope with my tendency to wander the house aimlessly working while somehow managing to accomplish nothing. I was, until the last few years, a moderate hoarder. Until I met Flylady, I never threw much away. I couldn't resist a good deal-- and If I found one, it made me hold onto that item forever. I know I am not alone!

I am much better now. (I am not as good at this as my sister in law, Lynn, but I am trying!) I resist bringing anything into my home that will just be clutter. Kitchen tools must multi-task! I like simple, clean lines. I will go without for a long time waiting to buy exactly what I need rather than buying things that might work. (you know how that goes; they never get used!)

My house is not, I repeat: NOT in perfect order. In fact, most of the time, it is not in order at all! There are often toys everywhere and the change of seasons swamps me with clothes. Right now, there is a laundry basket of clothes on my living room couch for me to sort through and on the floor My Little Ponies are threatening to take over that space. (I am coming back to add that the ponies have taken the living room.)

I do have the blessing of knowing that for a brief period of time each day, all the menial daily work that a small child can do has been done! That is why I love my jobs system. I can do the projects, like the clothes, attacking the laundry mountain, vacuuming and the like and have somewhere otherwise neat to begin.

Okay, I just wanted to say all that because If any of you ever drop by unannounced, I don't want you to be surprised by the actual state of things!
The End.

Today's topic is homeschooling.

I have had a lot of requests for how I handle this one. This is another area that I have had to compensate for my lack of organization in. My biggest blessing that has helped me so much this year is that Steve built in a bookshelf on which I can store our books. I used to keep them all over the place. One shelf of this is dedicated only to our daily books. Now, each morning after work and breakfast, I can easily grab that stack of books and put it on the table in the kitchen where we do school.

We try to start at 10:30 am. Usually,we get one main and one partial or light subject done before lunch. For instance, today, I began by reading three chapters (they are short chapters) of our "Pilgrim book" to the kids before we began. After that, we got started on Math.

I have six kids but only four are officially in school. Ivy and Vitali have worksheets they sometimes do and they listened to the reading time but they are free to go and play at any time. Three of the kids are in first grade work. (Max, Misha and Annette) Hannah is in fourth grade.

Even though three are in first grade, I purposely keep them on different pages. I found out early in the year that if Misha didn't know the answer, he had no problem looking at Max's paper to find it! Annette learns quickly and other than a little help along the way, she can get through her work on her own once I give it to her so she accomplishes more ground than the others each day.

So, how do I do it? Again, I have to compensate for my lack of organization. Here are some things I do. These may or may not work for you but they do for our situation:

  1. I do not grade papers. What?! Yes, I do not ever grade papers. I used to try but just didn't get to it! So, what do I do? As each paper is finished, I look at it. I circle incorrect ones and send the kids back to fix them. If I notice that one child has trouble with a particular concept, I may give an extra worksheet with that concept on it. I do not keep a grade book and never put a letter on the tops of the pages. I home school independently and am not required to submit grades the the school system . I set for the kids the standard of 100% comprehension of concepts and so I do school with that in mind.
  2. I do not do lesson plans. I know that I will not follow them! Nor will I get around to keeping them up so my method needs to compensate for that. Instead, when I get our books at the beginning of the year, I count the pages. I figure out how many pages need to be covered each day in order to reach the end of the school year having covered the required 180 days and finishing the books. So maybe I have a general all-year goal--but I don't call it a lesson plan.
  3. I sit at the table while the kids all work there. I don't do anything else. I can't. The boys need me too much anyway. We take a good sized break at lunch time for me to do a few things and during that time, the kids go and play. Also, if I don't sit there with the kids, it is too easy for me to say, "I'll help you in a minute" and then never actually do it! (Keep in mind that homeschooling does not run from 9:00am-2:30pm like formal schools do.)
  4. I don't get out much. I try not to sabotage our schedule by planning lunches with other friends or going shopping or doing errands. I know myself. If we don't just sit down and do it the same way every day, it will get pushed aside and forgotten!
  5. I kill two (or three) birds with one stone. Like yesterday when I had Hannah use her Bible memory verses for handwriting practice and Annette write on her language paper about George Washington after skipping to that section in her history book and having her read about him.
    I call it 'sneaky' but it does help them retain so much more.
If I think of more, I'll post it on here. for now, that is all I have. I just want to say though, that these things make me most consistent at the school stuff. Sometimes I can add more and sometimes, like on Wednesdays, for instance, we do a lighter load. My methods work for me because they are basic and affect only the core structure of how I work and allow me to build on them with relative ease.

Any questions? Ask! I am sure I left things out.



Chad and Tara said...

This sounds a lot like how we do school at our house. Thanks for sharing. However, my problem is that I try to "multi-task" (do housework) while doing school and it does not work. I need to try to do just one thing at a time.


Amblin said...

Great post!

Michelle said...

I also homeschool and we are leaving next week to bring home our 5 year old daughter. I'd love to get ideas for helping her ramp up her English and things I can give her to do at her desk as the others are working, that will not just be 'busy work' but beneficial, yet don't require reading either...

teachermommy at mi-connection dot com

thanks! :)

Annette said...


as someone getting ready to set out on this trail thank you for the encouragement that I can work the way that will suit me best.

thank you.