I can hardly believe that Ketziah has been here for 7 weeks! We’ve been doing school for four of those weeks. I have found that the children are much more peaceful when they are allowed to be productive and purposeful. I certainly thrive when we have at least some kind of schedule. So we hit the books again after only a small break. Nursing a little one while juggling books and papers and computer has been challenging, but not nearly as much as it was with the twins. Ketziah is falling into a gently rhythm of life, listening to the cadence of my voice as we transition from Story of the World to Geography Songs to All About Reading to Bible memory verses and back again. She is quite content as long as she’s being held, so it’s a good thing we practice babywearing and on-demand feeding around here or I would not be getting anything done.
We’ve switched up a few things since starting up again. I have done all of my organizing electronically for a few years now. Any time something crosses my mind, I type it into Outlook notes or tasks. I file away book and assignment ideas on my Homeschool Tracker software. Printables and flash cards are all filed away in folders on my desktop. But with all of these things being neatly tucked away in my computer, I found that I was much less likely to pull them out and use them because they weren’t visible enough. With all the “back-to-homeschool” sales and blogs flying around lately, I kept seeing advertisements for the Well-Planned Day planners. I finally decided to just buy one for the 2013-2014 school year. Homeschool Tracker is still the workhorse of my organizational equipment, but I find that forcing myself to write everything down in a regular planner is helping me remember to do everything. I can also keep track of menus, grocery lists, reading logs, and ideas for curriculum as I go about my daily tasks as it’s all in one place. Yes, I can still do all of this electronically, but it’s a lot easier to type a list in Word and save it (never to look at it again) than it is to write something down and have it staring me in the face, irritating me every day until I do it. I’m not one of those people who isn’t bothered by having to re-arrange things that I’ve already scheduled. I am a list-crosser-offer and in fact will write things down just so I can cross them off. So far, this method is working. There is a lot to do with six little ones in the house, and having a tangible book to carry around with me is wonderful. It’s not the perfect planner with as many students as I have and with the subjects that we tend to use during our school day (all subjects are pre-set in WPD). But no matter! It’s pretty and functional!
I am trying to teach Jaelah and Selah to be a little more independent this year. We finished up 15 weeks of studies before the baby, and now that we’ve picked back up again, I want them to start to learn how to plan and organize their own days – within reason, of course. It might take us a few years just to get in the habit of writing down all that we need to accomplish on a given day, but they have enough independent work that they can accomplish without me constantly looking over their shoulders that I thought it was time to buy them planners as well. The Well-Planned Day Student Planner was a huge hit around here! The pretty flowers and neat lines really made the girls excited about owning their own work. Yes, it’s actually additional work for me to help them write everything out in the books each week, but it gives me the chance to insert special messages or treats (“stop what you’re doing and give Mommy a hug” or “great job on that math worksheet, go grab a snack from the kitchen”). It’s a great non-workbox option for me since they share just about all their textbooks and readers (and if I ever do find a good workbox system for multiple students sharing materials, I will be SOLD!). It’s hilarious to listen to them discussing what goals and notes they want to enter into their books. Though they technically don’t even need planners until middle school at least, I figure it’s never too early to start training them to redeem the time. Our schedule is pretty unpredictable right now, so anything that helps us get grounded and know what to expect is helpful.
And of course then I remembered that lovely Managers of Their Chores book that we bought at a Maxwell’s conference a couple of years ago. All those wonderful white cards and clip pocket holders for the kids to wear as they complete their chores…sigh…it just might be time to bring them out again. I can only give so many directions from the couch while I’m nursing. We’ve had great success with the Maxwell family’s scheduling tools over the years, and it’s such a flexible system that I think it could really be a helpful tool right now. It’s just a matter of writing out a new schedule while trying to anticipate what the baby will be doing. For now, I’m basically just assuming she’ll be nursing most of the day throughout most of my half-hour blocks, so we have to realize our limits.
We moved to a four-day week in preparation for the older three girls attending a Homeschool Connection group all day on Mondays throughout the traditional school year. To prepare for that transition, I left the Mondays open and schedules our studies for four days a week. I must say that it has been quite nice getting four days’ worth of coursework completed over five days. It has been a great way to enjoy the summer and work around the baby’s adjustment and my sleep deprivation. We will be starting our Monday classes in two weeks, and things will pick up quite a bit then. However, it’s exciting to be able to have a day of preschool for the twins. They will really enjoy having some time alone with me and I look forward to using the Letter of the Week program alongside All About Reading Level Pre-1.