Thursday, September 29, 2011

Record Keeping and Keeping Kids On Track

Every school year is different. I am not doing things this year like I was doing things two years ago or even like last year. I am a big fan of trying something out and changing the process until it works for you. Every child is different, every school year is different and so flexibility is a requirement for homeschooling. You must be able to adapt to current ages and needs (yours too).

We use the A.C.E. program and it has a lot of great qualities that I really like. The program was designed with goal cards. It really is a card, about the size of a large index card, with a colorful table on it and the teacher fills in goals for each day for each subject (in later grades the student writes the goals). I have been using those crazy cards for 5 years. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan. They are easily misplaced by overly active young children and we seemed to use way to many! So this school year I changed things up. I used one of my many one cent folders and created a goal folder for each, Sam and Makiah. I created my own table for each week that was designed with the child in mind; easy to read and with their specific subjects. In the folder they also have their reading list table to be filled out whenever they complete a book. It's big, so it's not easily lost. They can both easily see what their goals are and when they are done they check it off. I should have done this years ago! Then at the end of the week, I can make comments at the bottom about their week and all the extra activities they completed. (Hold on, in the next section you'll see why) I will put the new week's goal sheet in right on top of the previous week. Then at the end of the quarter they can look back and see how much they got accomplished! New quarter, new goal sheets and I'll file the old ones. This system is great. We all love it and its keeping them on track! It's also a great way for dad to come in and see how much they got done that day if he wants too. (Hubs usually just asks, but if he wants to see he can)

While homeschooling is NOT illegal, homeschool families tend to draw a lot of unwanted and unwarrented attention so record keeping is key. Even though I am not keeping transcripts (HALLELUJAH!) I still have a lot of record keeping to, well, keep. Every state is very different in their homeschooling laws and as responsible parents it is a very good idea to know those laws. Being prepared to defend your rights to homeschool is part of making the choice to homeschool. In Missouri, we have to complete one thousand hours of schooling per school year. There are a lot of ways to keep track of your activities, including programs you can purchase. But since we are not keeping transcripts, purchasing a program didn't seem like a solid financial decision since more than half of the program wouldn't get used. Being handy dandy with Word (this took no talent really, but you gotta give me something) I created my own spreadsheets for logging in our hours daily and what those hours were spent doing. Every afternoon, or at midnight when things have slowed down, I sit down and log in what we did that day for both Makiah and Sam. This log is for the core subjects, as well as art, P.E., music, field trips, etc. This particular record keeping is also something new I am doing this year. In the past I have just printed a form offline and manually marked absent, sick, holiday or field trip in an attendance sheet. Not good enough, but I wasn't aware of all the new crazy laws Missouri has in place (I'll say this for Indiana, their laws are MUCH less involved). Again at the end of the quarter those monthly logs will be printed and filed. As with almost everything else in homeschooling, find what works for you in keeping track and do it. And I wouldn't suggest getting behind because catching up is not enjoyable. I mean, I can't remember what I ate yesterday for breakfast so going back and trying to remember what things we did on specific days. . . not going to happen. ~Smile~

Tomorrow is Friday and we have an exciting day planned! I can't wait! I'll be taking pictures and posting our Fabulously Fun Friday on Monday!!

Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Typical Day

Are there really any typical days?? Probably not. But I digress. ~~Smile~~

I thought I would post about what a typical day looks like in a homeschooling home. Not to jump on a soap box or anything, but, we homeschooling mama's (and dad's if they are working that stay home dad gig) are not overflowing with free time as most people so quickly assume. This will lay out what a day in the life looks like of schooling for this family.

6:00 a.m. ~ My alarm will sound. I will probably hit snooze once. Maybe twice. Then I am up and running. Theoretically anyway. This time is not highly structured because it's my morning devotion/prep/plan time. This time varies based on how much quiet time I need. We want a happy mama/teacher.

7:45 a.m. ~ Kids are getting up, brushing teeth, washing faces and complaining how early it is and how tired they are.

8:00-8:30 a.m.~ Breakfast

8:30 a.m. ~ Devotion (now you know why I need devotion first) During this time we focus on our scripture of the day, the character trait of the day and we talk about the project of the day.

9:00 a.m. ~ School work begins. While Sam sits in front of the dry erase board and works on letters and spelling words he already knows, I get Makiah started. We pull out her assignment goal folder. I have her start with Word Building. It's easy and it eases her into the work day. She doesn't need a lot of direction with it either. Daniel is at the table with his flash cards working on letter and numbers.

After I get Makiah started I begin working with Sam. He is typically learning a new phonetic sound for three days in a row and then review. So we learn a new letter sound and build new words with that letter and ones previously learned.

10:00 a.m. ~ Sam is now ready for book work and Makiah has moved onto the next subject, usually Bible Reading and for this she doesn't need me. I check in with her, help with any problems and then work with Daniel on spelling his name (this is a current right now thing).

10:15 ~ Break time, better known as "shake out your sillies time". We sing or turn on music and dance, shake out the sillies and basically giggle our way through the next 15 minutes.

10:30 ~ Now that we have shaken out our sillies we are ready for more learning. Sam works more in his Word Building and I usually kick off Math with Makiah right about now. We do drills or flash cards and then work on that days lesson. If it isn't new material I get her into the book right away. If it's a new concept we work together, going over the process and then onto the book. By now Daniel is coloring or cutting and gluing.

11:45 ~ Break for lunch. Right now they will work together on the scripture while I get lunch completely put together.

12:00-12:45 ~ We eat. We chill, it's a relaxing time. After they eat, I read a story to them.

12:45-1:00 ~ Physical Education, we do something physical. Could be calisthenics or dance contest or stretching.

1:00 ~ Daniel goes down for a nap. Sam works on his math and once he is done he is finished for the day. Makiah is ready for her Science lesson or English lesson. More book work.

2:00 ~ Makiah has a Social Studies lesson or Science and book work. Then she works on her Literature and Creative Writing (extra class if she has time).

3:30 ~ School is done. Daniel is awake and it's now free play. They earn computer time, Wii time or Netflix time.

3:30-4:15 ~ Mama scores work again. Puts info into the data sheets online and gets school work set up for the next day.

4:15 ~ Craft/Art time. I start them on a project and then start I cooking supper.

After this, it's just normal family stuff based on the night of the week. The kids bedtime is 8 p.m. and by that time I am more ready for their bedtime than they are! ~Smile~

This schedule is not set in stone. Like I said, it's a typical day, a sample of how the day should, hopefully and probably will go. Some days are better than others. Some days we stop school early because things aren't progressing, we do something else that's learning but we abandon the work books and lesson plans. Some days, we are all super focused and we are done early. Nothing in homeschool is written in concrete and that's the beauty of it all.

Every family has to create their school around their family. You pick the curriculum, you choose the scriptures, Bible stories, values and morals you are teaching. . . shouldn't you also design the schedule to best suit your family? YES!!

New posts coming soon about all sorts of FUN stuff!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Everything Lapbooking

I am ever so glad that a few years ago I stumbled, internet stumbled, across this wonderous idea of lapbooking!! So I decided that I should blog about lapbooking and all the great sites for free information and printables. Lapbooking can be used independent of curriculum study or as a companion. When I say independent of curriculum, I mean that it does not necessarily have to follow what is being learned. I will say though, that by going along with whatever your child is studying you will be truly driving home the concept you are trying to convey. Sometimes we follow current course study and sometimes we don't, it just depends on what the teacher wants. ~Smile~

Makiah has already finished her first lapbook of the year and it turned out great!! I have spent the morning deciding what we should do next. I really want Sam and Makiah to do a lapbook on the same topic so that I can help them together. Today I decided we would do a lapbook about Knights! I know it's not very girly but we will have an underlying Biblical theme complete with scripture. I am very excited! So where am I getting all this fabulous info and the printables you ask?!?! There are several sites, but here are a few that I really like!!

Homeschool Share is a great site!! It has all sorts of resources for homeschoolers, but if you click on the link it will take you directly to the Book Lists for lapbooks. Take time to look around the site, you will find all sorts of fun stuff!

Lapbooking 101 is another great site to help you get started! It gives you the nitty gritty on how to get started, the supplies and examples.

Lapbook Lessons is a site that I just recently found and I really like it! They have videos and templates and various links too.

Another great site for all sorts of information, resources and ideas is Homeschool Helper Online. It is another everything homeschool website, you will find lapbooking ideas and templates here too!

Here are just four options for great resources. All these sites also contain links to other sites for more info. For me, I feel like the internet is a homeschool family's best friend! I know there is a lot on the web to be cautious about, but take advantage of all the awesome resources online and most are free!!

You can make a lapbook from reading a book or make it a research project by having your older child google the info needed to fill in the templates you choose. Lapbooking is fun and creative. It gets your child learning while having fun! Great part is, it can also double as your art/craft project. Next week, all three kiddos, three different ages and grades will be doing a lapbook. They will all three be creating a Knight themed lapbook that is age appropriate for each! I declare that our Medieval week will be tons-o-fun!! (Read about my plans for Medieval week in the next post)

Folders: I like to use folders with pockets because invariably the teacher (he he, me) has printed out more stuff than we have room for or there is an accompanying book report to store. But you can use file folders or a combo of both. Explore the various folders and their uses and decide what will work best with your lapbook.

There is no wrong way to lapbook, get out there and have fun with it!