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. :)

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