Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Finding a System That Works For Us

It seems like I'm constantly rearranging, restructuring, and changing things with the girls schooling to try and find something that fits all of their personalities well enough. Last year I tried at least 5 different ways of doing our school work, some of which included

~pulling books out each time we needed them (something was always "forgotten")

~giving each girl a special spot for their work (the world practically ended when someone couldn't get to their special spot quickly enough - huge pain for me)

~work boxes (I even talked The Boy into buying these special drawers for it, because I was sure it would work, ummm huge fail! I never managed to get their work in the drawers daily, and putting a weeks worth in each drawer was stressful for the girls)

Then I decided that I would make packets like I had in school. My godfather is a teacher, and he makes packets for the kids to work out of. They have a set number to days to complete each packet, and they know as soon as they are done with packet A, they can move right on to packet B. Yay for being ahead!

During the back to school sales when 3 prong folders are a penny each I stocked up, and ended up with only 3 left. Our school periods are broken down into learning periods, which run anywhere from 15-20 days. Each learning period gets it's own folder. I just write on the front of each folder the students name, and the learning period it's for. One key thing is that I choose to have all of their folders match for each learning period, so learning period one they're all red, learning period two everyone gets yellow, and so on. This makes it so that I can glance at what they are doing, and be able to tell immediately if they are ahead, behind or right on track.

Inside the folders they have a cover sheet that has all of their assignments for the entire learning period. After that we have reading logs, I like to keep these up front since we use them so often. Next we divide their work into a daily amount, and each day gets a check list as it's first page. The girls really like being able to have a visual of crossing their work off as they accomplish it. I like that there's no forgetting the easily missed things such as physical education or art. We always do those things, but we often forget to track it.

We made a few changes to our curriculum to meet the needs of some of my eager beavers who need a little more work, and this made the folders too small for our needs. Of course I don't realize this until I buy thirty or so of them. I jump on Amazon.com and start looking for ways that I can bind the work together. I remembered having a binding machine at my Godfather's school, but I wasn't sure we'd even be able to find one in our price range. A few searches later and I round up the Fellow Star Binding Machine. IT IS AWESOME!

A dear homeschooling friend who is also in the same boat as I am, with too many, too small folders, and I agree to split the cost of purchasing the binding machine. (insert happy dance!!) For just about $45 I'm able to get the machine, and the coils. Then I used the front and back of the folders (cutting out the middle piece with the prongs) for the covers. Score for using what we've got on hand! I'm in love! IN LOVE!!

It's fantastic, but it does take some time to get your system down. The good thing is that I have plenty of practice with 3 students. :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

One Month Down...

Eight more to go! School around here last roughly 9 1/2 months, and we have wrapped up all of August. Whoo hoo! The girls are doing wonderfully, and are taking on the changes this year with such delight.

With Beanie heading off to high school this year, we have been forced to be an early morning family. In the beginning I thought it would be rough, but it's actually been a rather smooth transition. The girls have all be eager to get their work completed by the end of the school day, and with us being able to use Beanie's days as a guide it gives them a concrete time frame. In years past we have used all types of schedules, nothing really sticking. This one fits perfectly! :)

After dropping off Beanie, we eat breakfast, and hit the books. It's amazing how much faster they want to complete everything when they realize that they have basically completed everything by lunch time! Oh the enthusiastic responses when asked if they like this better than our previous systems. I'm just hoping we don't get derailed by the flu this year! ;)

 Nanners is working with her letter tiles to master spelling. We're not sure if this is going to work or not, but it's worth a shot!
Spunky Girl & I are using the tried and true method of writing. She tells me the sentences, I write them down, she copies them from the white board. I save time, she learns the words spelled correctly the first time, and she gets to say all sorts of silly things. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer 2012 Highlights

Another summer has blown past us with zero regard to my feelings of wishing time could slow down. The girls have grown even more, their long blonde hair still shimmers in the summer sunshine..and two of them even have a little extra color this year.

As much as I tried, I didn't do any better about blogging through the summer. What I was better about was stopping to read to my girls, to play games on the floor when they asked, to manage my home as best I could. So many exciting things have happened over the summer. Here are some of our favorite summer memories:

June 2012 - Family trip to Folsom Lake
We grabbed our cousins, and MawMaw & PawPaw and drove out to the lake on a whim. It was a simple hey let's go to the lake kinda feeling, not a ton of planning, just fly by the seat of our pants fun. We packed a lunch, grabbed the SPF 50, our favorite chairs and drove out there.

The kids loved it. Warm sunshine, cool water, exploring islands with Daddy and watermelon equal up to a fantastic memory. :)

Our Church Block Party

Our church held our first annual block party in June. The girls helped with all kinds of stuff. They especially loved the face painting station. We had games, live entertainment, vendors, food and more. It was a blast!

July 2012 - Lots of stuff went on during July. Since we had a pretty mild California summer this year, it was nice to be able to head to play at the parks whenever we felt like it. This year both Beanie and Nanners went to church camp. Technically we could say they went in June, but we'll call it July since that's when they returned safe to my arms. :)

Nanner's creating her name tag for camp. She did really well, with only one major scare. Apparently she slipped walking in wet flip flops on her return trip from the pool, and rolled her ankle. Thank goodness one of the camp councilors, Matthew, was a "sports injury" student. He was able to calm everyone down up there, they of course wanted to rush her to the ER, lol! I'm on the phone saying, uh I don't think that's a good idea, let's give her  a few hours. He totally agreed with me, and together the village finally agreed. Overall she had a great year, and can't wait to return next year. 
You'll notice that there's no picture of Beanie....yeah, she ran off to her cabin as soon as we arrived. No pictures for Mommy. :/ Oh well, at least I get to drive her there, lol.

August 2012 - Whew! If it wasn't hot before, the summer season is officially upon us now! The A/C didn't go off all month. That was quite the bill! :( We did manage to get in some camping finally. We drove up to Rattlesnake Bar and camped for the weekend. Too bad this mommy forgot to empty her flash card before we left. I couldn't delete since they were a customers images, so we're stuck with our memories. It was a lot of fun, we took The Cousins, MawMaw, PawPaw, Grandma & our friends the "W" family. There was a ton of walking up and down hills, a huge dash of dirt, topped off with camp fires. All around a pretty good time. You never really appreciate your home until you're away from it for a few days. The best part was that we scouted some really good spots while we were there, and we plan to return next summer. :)