10-01-2015

Why I Homeschool, No Apologies

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Every single time I talk to someone new I get asked where my children go to school. I absolutely hate this question, because I know the response I will get as soon as I say I homeschool.

“Oh, wow. I could never do that.”

or

“I wish I could homeschool, but I’m just not patient enough to do so.”

I really hate both these statements.

I want to start off this post by saying something; I am not patient in the least. That’s not me being modest. Or humble. I’m seriously not patient. When listing my attributes no one would ever use the word patient to describe me. No one ever has, and no one ever will. But yet I get that label the second someone hears I homeschool.

Want to know why I homeschool?

First, I am extremely selfish. I worked hard to get my babies here. Most were overdue, and most took lots of planning, dedication, tons of tears, prayers and my savings account to get here. I don’t want to share them. I want to spend as much time with them as I possibly can. I want to watch them learn and grow. This is also why we’ve made it a priory for me to stay home with my kids. I was there for their first smile, their first laugh, first tooth, first step. I want to be there for the first time they solve a long division problem, the first time they successfully sound out a word. I want to be there when they surpass my math abilities. And they will surpass my math abilities, in a few years in fact.

Second, I’m paranoid. I do not believe that school is the safest place for my children to be. I don’t think school is a positive place to be. I think that’s it can be extremely harming to your self worth. I was bullied through most of school, and I don’t think it gave me “character.” I don’t think that being teased and tormented daily is a necessary part of life. I don’t think it made me a better person. It made me a more sarcastic person, it gave me zero tolerance for it. And school is not a safe place for that. Zero tolerance rules don’t keep bulling out, they just mean that you get bullied badly enough that you’re scared, and ashamed, to tell. Which I don’t think it useful for the real world. In the real world that’s harassment, and it’s illegal. It’s not “kids just being kids.” It’s adults losing their jobs and having restraining orders filed against them.

Third, I honestly fail to see why school is so long and then kids come home with a mountain of homework. You kept my kid for 7 hours a day, and then there are several hours of homework? No. And my lack of patience? I think I’d stab myself in the eye if I had to help with homework. If you teach the lesson it’s way easier to help with the work. But if you weren’t there then the teacher is always correct and you are wrong. Eye stabbing.

Forth, I love the one on one personalized education that I can give my children. I spend an entire year (preschool) learning all about my child’s learning style. I learn what works, what doesn’t, what causes anxiety, their strengths and their weaknesses. When we start kindergarten they know the school drill, they know what’s expected of them and I know how to teach them. I love that each subject is individualized for them, their learning style and their ability. If a curriculum doesn’t work for a child we can change it so that it does work. I’m not smashing them through a mold and hoping it works out. I was once told that this was damaging because it makes them think it’s all about them and that they aren’t use to having to wait. I laugh. Last year, and in Kindergarten, Sydney was given lessons while I nursed a new baby and kept a toddler from harm. There is always someone yelling or jumping off of something. They have learned to study in a war zone, and they’ve learned to be patient while I get to them because their needs aren’t always met first. So she’s learning to pull out a book during the boring moments in life. I call this a win.

Fifth, I absolutely love the relationships they are developing with each other. Sydney and Audrey are best friends, they get to spend all day every day with each other. The most important relationships they will ever have are with their family. If you can get along with your siblings then you can get along with anyone. Especially when one of those siblings does everything in his power to irritate you.

And most importantly? I homeschool because it is what I feel is best for my children. These are my children that I have been entrusted with. It doesn’t make me a better mother because I homeschool. It doesn’t make you a worse mother because you send your children to public school. My job is to do what I believe is best for my children. Period. Their needs above mine. I’m not going to lie, this is hard work. But anything worth while is difficult. Yes, it would be nice to go to the grocery store without four kids in toe, and it would be nice to have some alone time. Both of those things will happen, long before I’m ready, and before I know it. I’ll enjoy them then, but for now I’m enjoying learning with my children.

And PS, you could so homeschool and you’d rock it. But if you don’t want to that’s okay too. We live in an awesome day and age where we have choices. You might think you’d never be able to homeschool, but I think I’d never be able to send my children to public school. You do you, but let’s still be friends. If you want to homeschool though, I’ll be your cheerleader. I look great in the uniform! ­čśë

08-25-2015

2015-2016 Curriculum List

Yesterday marked the first day of our 5th year of homeschooling. And this year is Audrey’s first day of Kindergarten. Every single year I wonder how I got here, how is it that my kids are even old enough to be in school?

But here we are, and here is the list of curriculum that we will be using this year!

Sydney is in the THIRD GRADE. Like Whoa.

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Math: Math-U-See Gamma

Science: Sonlight Science D (Biology, Taxonomy and Human Anatomy)

English: Writing With Ease Level 3, First Language Lessons Level 3, All About Spelling Level 3+

Reading: Ginger Pye, School Story, B is for Betsy, Enyclopedia Brown, Betsy & Tacy, Along Came a Dog, The Lightning Thief, James and the Giant Peach, Ramona Forever

Handwriting: A Reason For Handwriting Transition

Art: Home Art Studio 3rd Grade

Read Alouds: Little House in the Big Woods, Stuart Little, The Cricket in Time Square, Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, Prince Caspian

History: Story of the World Volume 3 (Early Modern)

Biographies: This year we are focusing on some biographies and she will read one each month from the Whoe Was…? Series.
Clara Barton, Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Sally Ride, Louis Braille, Claude Monet, Queen Elizabeth, Franklin Roosevelt, Daniel Boone, Babe Ruth.

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Math: Math-U-See Primer

Science: Sonlight Science A (Biology, Biotoany, Physics)

Reading: Bob Books Box 1+

Handwriting: A Reason For Handwriting K

Art: Home Art Studio Kindergarten

Read Alouds: Sonlight A

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Together they will be reading Old Testament Stories and doing Expedition Earth: Europe!

05-21-2015

When You Think You’re Failing

Since I’ve spent this entire school year pregnant, and then with a newborn it’s had it’s challenges.

Especially since this is Audrey’s first year doing school with us.

And unfortunately she’s gotten the short end of the stick.

┬áPreschool hasn’t gotten done.

And not because she isn’t cooperative. Unfortunately it’s just the opposite, she’s been begging to do school.

The cute assignments have gotten done. Eventually.

Reading took a back burner and we just worked on flash cards.

The stories I was suppose to read to her just didn’t happen.

And our coconut tree? Yeah, it’s got the letters A and B on it. :(

In short, I was failing Audrey.

First step? Realizing it.

Second step? Make a plan.

Luckily I’m great at making a plan.

So one Sunday night I opened up that weeks folder for school, grabbed the four books for the week. I made four piles, one for each day of the school week. I stacked them on top of each other (the books being the divider) and I left it on the table. With our All About Reading book on top.

I also realized that piano practice had slipped through the cracks. So when it’s time to do school I sit down with Audrey first, while Sydney plays the piano. When it’s time to switch Audrey to reading out loud I have Sydney start her math worksheet.

Audrey and I work through her pile of things to do, finishing with a book being read her to. Often I do this while I’m feeding Ruby, but the point is that we do not leave the table. We stay right there, because if we get up it won’t get finished. After I read her book to her, she reads to me from All About Reading.

We are going back over the first book and making sure she can read each of the stories fluidly with little time spent sounding out each. and. every. word. We are going slowly to make sure the concepts are reinforced.

After a few months of using this method I can say that our school work goes a lot smoother, Audrey is happier and her reading has improved drastically!

So what do you do when you’re failing your child? Stop. Fix it. Make a plan. Start again. Make it work.

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03-07-2015

How I Organize All About Reading

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Audrey is learning to read! Yey!

For her we choose to use All About Reading, it has a ton of fun games and does an awesome job teaching phonics. All things I’m a huge fan of.

My only issue I had was I had no idea how to store this curriculum! It felt like a waste of space to put all the lessons in file folders, so I was at a loss.

To begin with, my wonderful hubby colored the entire curriculum for me. Personally, I despise coloring. I seriously am awful at coloring, how absurd is that? Jordan, on the other hand, is not only good at coloring but he actually enjoys it!

So we made a deal, he’d do the coloring and I’d teach the kid to read. Sweet, DONE.

Anyhow, the wonderful husband colored the pages and then I laminated them and cut them out. Put them all into individual baggies according to which lesson they corresponded to.

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I also put together the Word Flipper/Sliders and laminated the Fluency Practice. Then I trimmed down the lamination on the Fluency Practice so that they would fit into a page protector.

Each lesson has it’s own page protector, which holds it’s Fluency Practice and any game pieces that are needed. When I finish a lesson I take the page protector out and move it to the back.

Why did I have Jordan color the pages, and then spend the time laminating it?

Because I didn’t think that Zachary would want to play a game that Audrey colored. Plus, it probably wouldn’t survive Audrey and I like to make our curriculum last.

But, it’s in a pink binder.

Yup, and that’s Audrey’s color. After she passes off AAR Level 1 I’ll move the page protectors to a blue blinder and keep it in storage until Zachary is ready for it. And then I’ll get AAR Level 2 all put together in Audrey’s pink binder.

Anything else that might be helpful?

The front cover holds her Progress Chart, so that every day she can see the progress she’s making! The star stickers that we use are in the pocket on the inside cover, along with some lined paper. Sometimes Audrey doesn’t like the tiles, on those days we write the words on lined paper instead. Audrey is very visual and quickly notices word ending patterns (“All the words end in -an!”) and during the “switch the letters” game this is REALLY helpful for her!

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01-20-2015

Preschool Day by Day | Day 4

Did you think I forgot about this challenge?

Well, I didn’t :)

Last Thursday (1/15) we went to a play group that was at the same time as school, and then we had lunch, nap and did chores until it was time to go to my grandparent’s house to celebrate my grandpa’s birthday. In other words; school didn’t happen.

Which was fine, because we can make it up on Friday, right? Unless Sydney wakes up throwing up and you spend the day tending to a sick child. And then school doesn’t happen again.

That’s okay, we’ll make it up on Monday.

Unless it’s a holiday in which your husband is home and you have maternity pictures, decide to have a family swim day and then take Audrey to gymnastics.

So TODAY (Tuesday) is the first day we’ve had school in almost a week. Time for some serious catch-up! No worries though, seriously. We’ve got this.

First things first, finish up our N packet. We did this by starting with our magnet page. This is one of my kid’s favorite activities, they have a ton of fun with this one.

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Following this we did some tracing practice. I tried to do formal handwriting practice with Audrey during preschool and it was AWFUL. Poor thing was so frustrated and it often resulted in tears. So we nixed that and we just do a handwriting tracing page once a week, it goes much smoother and Audrey loves it. Most of it is shapes and different lines, with only two letters, but I figure it’s helping her with those fine motor skills required to have nice penmanship later. :)

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Next we did a Do A Dot activity, which is another favorite. Audrey loves to play with the markers. In fact she spent about 10 minutes having the markers chase each other around the table in a very exciting battle. I had to remind her to get back on task. When Sydney was in preschool I had to make the rule that it was required that they use each color at least once. Because otherwise we’d have 26 pink only letters. The other colors get jealous. ­čśë

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And lastly we did a cut and paste activity. Audrey cut out a nest and 3 eggs and glued them to the paper. I’m really amazed at her scissor skills and how much she enjoys these projects! She had it all planned out on how she wanted her nest to go.

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And with that we finished off the last of the N activities. Thursdays and Fridays are typically our light days, they are kind of built in catch-up days for when we need them. Tomorrow we will have to get done several activities for the letter O to catch completely up, but with preschool this is fairly simple. It’s a little harder in say 2nd grade, just ask Sydney ­čśë

After she finished up the Letter N, Audrey read a Bob Book. I’ve said it a few times but I’m so grateful when I have good ideas to help my children learn and grow. Taking a step back and working on reading skills that are considered “easy” has been a huge help to Audrey. Next week when we go back to All About Reading I feel like it will go a lot smoother.

01-13-2015

Preschool Day by Day | Day 1

Two years ago I did Mindy at Grateful for Grace‘s 10 Days in the Life of a Homeschooler challenge.

It was a lot of fun, and I’m very impressed that I completed the entire challenge.

I decided that it would be fun to document Audrey’s preschool journey over the next week (5 school days) and post about them each day.

Unlike the 10 Days of Homeschooling, this will not be an account of my entire day, just the preschool part.

Plus, I just got a new lens for my camera and I need something to keep my mind busy while I wait to go into labor.

Today marks DAY ONE. Ready?

10:00 am- This is our official school time. It works best for our family because sometimes the kids (and the mama) sleep in, and this allows for breakfast and morning chores to happen before school starts. It also means that if we aren’t done by lunch time the littles will take a nap, thus ensuring that school will get completed.

Today we got school started at 10, and it’s the start of a new week! We use Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Letter of the Week Curriculum, and this week we are working on the letter N! We started off with our tracing sheet. We use Expo Vis-a-Vis Wet Erase markers to trace the letter. Audrey’s favorite is the red marker, so we have to make sure we always have that handy! The tracing page is just printed out and then laminated.

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Next up is the puzzle! Each letter has at least one puzzle that we do on our magnetic cookie sheet. I cut out the puzzle, glued it to cardstock, then laminated it, cut it apart with fun scissors and then added a magnet to the back of each piece. Audrey struggled with these puzzles in the beginning of the school year but now she whips them together in no time! (Notice we lost our hat after the tracing page.)

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The last thing we do as part of our Letter of the Week curriculum on Mondays is we do a coloring page. Audrey didn’t seem fond of the coloring page until the last few weeks, she would scribble once or twice and then be done, lately she’s liking it more, and I often ask her if she wants to continue coloring the other days of the week and she’s happy to continue. I’m not a huge fan of coloring either ­čśë

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We’ve been using All About Reading Level 1 to teach Audrey how to read. I absolutely love how this curriculum is set up, the games the sequence and that I have a manual to help me teach ­čśë Big perk in my opinion. Unfortunately I felt that Audrey was lacking in confidence. As soon as she understood something we moved on, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for standing still and being impressed with oneself. This might just be the way I was doing the program, but Audrey needed to understand that reading wasn’t always hard. So I thought long and hard about how to help her and finally decided to have her read Bob Books. This week we are starting with the very FIRST Bob Book from set 1, one which is way below her reading level and one that she has read previously. The reason for this is just to boost her confidence, it’s not suppose to be challenging.

Today she read through Mat in a matter of a few minutes, and she was SO excited and happy! She quickly read through the first 3 books with no problems and she understood what was going on in the books. It was definitely a good move to take this week off in regards to All About Reading. Currently she’s a little over half way through AAR level 1.

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Mondays are very easy days when it comes to preschool. The Letter of the Week stuff takes about 10-20 minutes, and the reading lessons another 10-15. Usually we are completely finished in about 30-40 minutes. The reason for this is simple; Mondays are Sydney’s heaviest day, so we alternate who has the most work on which day of the week. Fridays are usually preschool heavy, but elementary school light.

After she is done with preschool Audrey goes off to play with Zachary. During this time Sydney is doing her math worksheet, handwriting exercises or reading a book if she’s finished all her independent work and is waiting on me. So far this is the best method I have found to juggle the education of both my girls. If you aren’t currently working and are waiting for Mama to help you, you aren’t allowed to leave the table you find something else to work on.

Speaking of my table, yes, those are paint stains on it. I call it the mark of budding artists. My poor table gets painted and colored on. But I find that I absolutely love it that way. It’s not being used as a dining room table right now, and I’m loving that our homeschool table shows that it’s been used, loved, and appreciated!

01-12-2015

6 Weeks On, 1 Week off…Why?

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There are several questions I get asked as homeschool mama. The most common one is what curriculum I use (I absolutely dread this question, honestly.)

But the second one is in reference to our schedule. We don’t take off Veterans Day, President’s Day, Columbus Day or any other 1 day holiday.

Why?

Because honestly it’s a scheduling nightmare for me. Most of our schedules follow a “Week 2 Day 3” type of schedule, if you take one day off it messes with it. It makes my brain want to explode just thinking about scheduling that way.

So instead we have six straight weeks of school. Then we take off one full week. If we do school during a holiday we talk about the holiday and learn all about it. We also usually have a shorter day so we can be done sooner and enjoy the day as a family (unless Jordan doesn’t have it off…in which case we might just skip the holiday all together.)

Alright, well that’s fine and dandy, but what do you do during that week off?

Confession time: I might look super organized on this blog but I’m only good at being organized once. After the initial organization it just all breaks loose and stuff gets shoved.

Second confession: Sometimes we don’t always finish all our work in those six weeks.

So during break we catch up on any work that we are lagging behind on, and we reorganize the school area!

You know, so we can destroy it again really soon.

There are some subjects that we often fall behind schedule on; science, art, and history “extras.”

Art is honestly one of the hardest ones for me to keep up with. Despite my love of doing art projects with Sydney by the time Friday comes I’m ready for school to be over, and if we moved it to another day we’d run out of time and energy. Strangely towards the end of the school year we have extra amounts of energy and we whip out a bunch of art projects the last month. I’m not sure how that works out, but we go with it.

Since we switched from Apologia to Sonlight I haven’t had any problems staying on schedule. I think Apologia’s schedule they provided was too time intensive, science only being 2 days a week and I wasn’t into making my own schedule for science. We were often playing catch up.

History we stay on schedule, but sometimes I forget about our timeline activities or the books we are suppose to read. Our one week off is the perfect time to put those stickers in the Book of Time and to catch up reading.

How do you do your schedule for homeschool?

12-05-2014

Keeping Dad Informed

I spend HOURS every single week researching curriculum, testing options, and homeschool in general to make sure my kids are on par, not falling behind, and that the curriculum that we are using is truly the best fit for them.

And then I spend 5 days a week, multiple hours a day teaching my darling children using these resources that I’ve spent time and energy researching.

So imagine my disdain when Jordan asks the kids, “What did you learn today?” and they answer with, “Nothing.”

Excuse me?! You learned nothing today? What about the math, history, the book you read, the writing summary you made, the spelling test you aced? The list goes on, I can think of many things you learned today and would be happy to jump in and answer this question!

Unfortunately, the question wasn’t directed towards me. I get an entirely different question, “Are you sure they aren’t behind?”

Now, here’s the part where I admit I have a temper. This question completely irked me. And it wasn’t made better by being asked this question on multiple occasions.

My husband’s question is coming from a place of deep concern and love for his children and their education. He knows how hard I work, but what he doesn’t get to see everyday is how our children are learning. He doesn’t get to witness the moments where things click, he doesn’t grade the worksheets. He just hears that they learned “nothing” today.

But I couldn’t figure out a good way to help him understand what we did. I coached the children on what to say when Daddy came home and asked during dinner how school went. This wasn’t helpful as it was clearly rehearsed and was not showing what they learned.

Going over the worksheets wasn’t really helpful either.

Then one day, I didn’t erase the white board. It had the date, abbreviation and different parts of math and grammar that we had gone over for the day. Somehow Jordan made sense of this crazy white board, and then during dinner he changed his question. Instead of asking Sydney, “What did you learn today?” he asked her, “How many numbers can you have in the ones column before you have to carry over?“and “What is an adjective?”

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With these specific questions at hand (based on the white board notes) Sydney would instantly tell him the answer, without me helping her along, without sounding rehearsed and without sounding irritated at being asked to go through her entire school day.

It kept Jordan involved, and it helped give him ideas of what exactly he needed to be asking, which made him feel more confident that we aren’t behind. Oh, and that we truly were accomplishing something during the day.

Now, some days there are no white board notes. Some days we just use the white board to write the date, and that’s it. That’s okay, we don’t always have to talk about school, but it is awesome that we found a way to keep dad in the loop.

11-20-2014

The Binders System

When I first started homeschooling I researched several different organizational methods for keeping everything running smoothly. I really loved the workbox station, but I’ve never been able to figure out how to make that work for us. It requires a lot of space, and I could never find drawers that I really liked. It just wasn’t for me. Last year I bought a ton of $1 binders in various colors and each of Sydney’s subjects was in a different binder. This worked better for us (you know, better than the imaginary workbox station that I knew wouldn’t work) but it still drove me crazy because I had PILES of binders everywhere, and Zachary loved to knock them down, there wasn’t enough room for them all, and for some subjects this just didn’t work. So I condensed and merged the two ideas into one that works amazingly for our family.

After my post on how I organize our homeschool paraphernalia (I love that word!), I decided to go a little deeper into our binders.

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Because really, without them everything would fall to pieces.

Sydney has five binders. All the binders are purple, because since they were born I’ve color coded my children. Sydney is purple, Audrey is pink, Zachary is blue, baby Ruby will be yellow. If we have too many children we will have to start thinking in shades instead of colors.

The most important binder is The Sydney Binder. The cover is just a quick thing I made that says “2nd Grade” and I let Sydney color all around it. The back cover holds the maps for the reader’s instructor guide for quick and easy reference. The inside pocket holds her All About Spelling progress chart with stickers. Then there are dividors with pockets. Because I like pockets.

First divider is Reading. This holds the schedule for the book she is currently reading.
Second divider is Writing. It holds the Writing With Ease worksheets for the week.
Third divider is Science, holding the Sonlight Science C schedule for the week.
Fourth divider is Handwriting. It actually holds all the A Reason For Handwriting assignments for the entire year.
Fifth pocket is Math. Holding all the math assignments for the week.
Sixth divider is History. IN the pocket (see, I do use them!) it has the whole year’s schedule for Story of the World Volume 2: Medieval. Behind the tab it has the 6 week rotation of coloring pages. (We do 6 weeks om, 1 week off.) When it’s time to color (usually Friday) I take the coloring page out and put it on the clipboard.
Seventh divider holds all of the notebook paper. I take this out when we do spelling tests or have other needs for lined paper.
There is nothing behind the Eighth divider.

Then I move the daily assignments onto her clipboard when it’s time to do them. So at the beginning of each day she has a stack of papers that we will be working through. Her science worksheet and handwriting worksheet just stay on the clipboard for the entire week, they are never actually behind the dividers.

The first binder is Readers. This is probably the least organized of all of the binders. While I do have Sonlight’s schedule, I rarely use it with Sydney. She is an amazing reader and she doesn’t need the schedule (yet.) I have a box of the books she will be reading this school year, I let her pick which one she wants to read. We don’t go in order of the schedule. I also don’t assign her chapters per day, because she’s a great tiny human. Some days she wants to read a ton, and other days she doesn’t want to read at all. She’s human. But she always finishes the books and she is usually ahead of schedule. Occasionally she falls behind the schedule and I tell her to finish her book by a certain amount of days and she’ll get on it. Right now She’s read 7 of the 20 books assigned for the school year and we are on week 10, she’s about 3 weeks ahead. So what’s the point of the instructor’s guide then? Well, I use the questions. When she reads she tells me where she is and I ask the questions out of the IG. It also helps me to keep informed on what the books is about because I don’t always have time to preread the entire book before she gets to it. She’s a better reader than I am right now.

To keep this binder less hectic the first page lists the book list and schedule. I always put the guide back in it’s proper place. But the book she is currently working on’s guide is in the Sydney binder, ready for questions to be asked!

The second binder is Math. Currently we are using Math-U-See Beta with Sydney. I removed everything from the student packet and the test packet and put it in the binder. There is a divider separating the tests from the regular worksheets. We don’t actually use EVERY worksheet, but I keep them all in place because sometimes we need extra help and rather than preemptively throwing away worksheets we keep them all in one place. Each week I put that week’s worth of assignments in her “Sydney binders.” Worksheets that won’t be used go in the pocket, just in case they will be needed, after she has passed off the test we toss the unused worksheets.

Third binder is the Writing binder. This holds all of the Writing With Ease Level 2 worksheets. This one is not complicated, I just grab each week’s worth and put them in the Sydney binder.

Fourth binder is Science. This has a set of Sonlight’s 36 week dividers. Behind each divider is the schedule and worksheet. The week we will be working on next is always in front. The week we are currently working on is moved to the Sydney binder. The schedule goes behind the “Science” tab, the worksheet goes on the clipboard. When we are finished with the week we move the schedule and the divider with the corresponding number to the back of the binder.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea on how we implement binders to help keep our homeschool running smoothly and keep all the worksheets and curriculum organized. I definitely think that this will be a huge help to us next year as Audrey adds more binders to her shelf. Currently she has only two pink binders, the first being her Letter of the Week curriculum lesson plan (which is pretty much ignored as I remember the order of how it went) and her All About Reading Level 1 Binder. There will be a post just on the organization of All About Reading soon!

09-07-2014

School for Two

I have to admit I was really nervous about adding Audrey to our school, I had previously been able to devote all my time to Sydney’s education and was worried about how it would change with Audrey in the mix.

I often compare it to adding another baby to the family. The emotions are exactly the same.

Audrey has surprised me a lot! We’ve only completed two weeks of school but she’s doing really well! I think it’s the only time I’ve seen her sit still, and she’s listening so well!

What’s surprising me as well this year is how I’ve changed things a bit. I thought I knew what I was doing, as this is our fourth year. I should probably just realize that like all parenting related things; I know VERY little. Last year we implemented a binder system. A binder for every subject. This worked okay, but I didn’t really have space to put all the binders while they were being used. I like everything needed for the day on the table, ready to be used.

To start with I bought a planner. This probably isn’t necessary but it helps keep my disorganized brain organized. I can see everything that both Sydney and Audrey are suppose to be doing at a glance. Key words; at a glance. This is NOT a detailed lesson plan. Just the gist of what needs to be accomplished. As we go through our subjects for the day I check each thing off. I really like checking things off!

I bought The Well Planned Day planner and am pretty happy with it. It’s the only one I’ve ever tried. I found another that I think I’ll use next year, but for now this will work great.

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I am also using a box shelf that I got from Target to hold all of our homeschool books and supplies that are needed for both girls.┬á The self below their blue bin holds their parent manuals that I need as well as their textbooks. The black bins hold Audrey’s file folder games and Sydney’s books that she will be reading this school year.

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My mother bought each of the children a Washington State license plate with their name on it. As soon as I figure out how to attach it to the bin, that’s where it’s going!

As I said, each box has their needed supplies. In Sydney’s I have her Math-U-See manipulatives, her DVDs for science, math, and art. Her clipboard stays in the box when it’s all ready to go, along with her book she’s currently reading, her super cool bookmark, All About Spelling box, and her purple sticky notes.

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I also have an Ikea bookshelf that holds our miscellaneous homeschooling supplies. Calendar parts, history books, yearbooks, Sydney’s kindergarten hand print, pens, ect. But it also holds 4 binders containing Sydney’s detailed lesson plans for science and reading (as well as the worksheets for science), and her math and writing worksheets. Science experiment supplies are also on that shelf.

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I got a small binder to put all of this weeks work in. I already owned the binder so this was not an extra expense. On Friday (or Sunday) I pull out the math, handwriting, writing, history, reading and science binders and take out the things that are needed for the week. Then I put the larger binders back on the shelf. At the end of each day I pull out the next days work and have it ready.

The final thing I added this year were clipboards. Both girls have their own, and when I take the work from the weekly binder I put them on the clipboard. I add sticky notes that say things like “Come Get Me” and “Stop” where they are needed. The science worksheet is for the whole week, but you only do a few problems a day, so I show her where to stop. Work like math and handwriting (sometimes writing) can be done independently. Sydney knows that if I’m not at a place where I can come help her (because I’m teaching Audrey or fighting with Zachary) she can move on to the next independent worksheet or read her reading assignment for the day. She’s really good at this.

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I had always planned on “color coding” my children to help me easily identify whose books/papers/school stuff is theirs. But this is the first year I’ve implemented it! All of Sydney’s binders are purple, along with her sticky notes. Audrey’s binders are (mostly) pink with a pink sticky notes. I might have to buy colored high lighters too, just for fun.

I always wanted a workbox station for my kids, but the method never seemed like it would work in our space. I love this method I seem to have made for us, it helps keep everything organized and ready to go!