Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our New Routine

I mentioned in a recent post that I have been re-evaluating our curriculum and how we do school. With the help of Jolanthe's Homeschool Planner worksheet, I created this schedule:

There were key subjects I knew I wanted to cover, some more frequently than others (e.g., math, writing, reading). I also wanted a variety of topics within each day because while James is a creature of habit and routine, I knew it was important that I keep our school time interesting and new at the same time. For example, we do an "art study" every Thursday, but the art that we study is different each time.

Every Sunday evening I plan out our schedule for the coming week by writing in specific notes on the template. I refer to this schedule during our school time and I make a check mark as we finish a subject. I do this so that upon review I can quickly see what's done and what isn't. There are days when we may have to skip a lesson here or there, and because it's not checked I'll see that I need to cover that material tomorrow.

After I've planned our schedule, I gather together all of the materials we'll need for each day and I create "daily trays". I place these trays on the shelves of one of our bookcases. This is not unlike workboxes in the sense that the child simply goes to one spot to collect their work for the day. Each morning James goes to shelves, gets the tray of the day, brings it to the table, and knows that everything on that tray is what we have to work on.

On each tray is a clear folder that holds that day's worksheets. I purchased three Kindergarten and 1st grade workbooks and I simply tear out several pages for each day. Occasionally I add in worksheets I've found online, too.

At the end of the day we paperclip the completed worksheets and put them into this folder. My husband really enjoys seeing what James has done, and James is so proud to show his daddy his school work!

I also have a "teacher tray" where I keep books I use repeatedly throughout the week (e.g., our chapter read-aloud, our reading comp. book, etc.). This is really handy as it keeps my materials separate from James'.

At the end of each week I save the completed schedules in my organizer. This is helpful because it serves as a record of what we've done and it also provides me with a clear idea of what we need to cover. By the way, I must mention that I *love* my organizer! I haven't quite decided how to use it to its full potential, but so far it's been a great help. Inside of it I keep a copy of our monthly calendar, notes, ideas, planning sheets, Weekly Reader teaching guides, as well as pouches filled with writing tools and stickers.

That's one other thing that's been a fun new addition to our school time - the stickers! I remembered that I used to love when my teachers put stickers on my worksheets to show they were pleased with my work. I found loads of these little stickers at the local teacher's supply store. James was just tickled when I pulled them out and I've noticed he puts in a bit more effort in the hopes he'll get a sticker!

Many thanks to my wonderful friend, Terri, for this idea. I made this schedule sheet for James and I keep it posted in our classroom next to our calendar so he can see what's coming. He really likes it and often looks over to it and announces what we're doing next. We start school at about 8:30/9am (or later... depends on how motivated we are in the morning!) and the entire routine takes us about 3 hours. This works out well since our afternoons are usually busy with playing, errands, or classes. (BTW, "morning exercises" is just a more grown up way of referring to "circle time". : ) You can read more about our circle time here.)

I'm really, really pleased with our new schedule and learning method. I like that we're still using our classroom despite the fact that much of our work comes from books and worksheets. We have school every day in our classroom and work at the little table in there. Three times a week James does "shelf work" where for 30 minutes he can work on anything on our shelves. Currently, the work on our shelves is from our mini-units. (Side note: I thought we'd move through those MUCH more quickly than we have - there are 3 units we have yet to cover!) When we get through those I will create only a handful of trays each month.

For the moment, our "curriculum" is really just a hodgepodge of methods using various books, workbooks and tactile materials. Beginning next fall we'll be using more specific methods for our core subjects.

In the next week or two I hope to share about our new school library!

PS: here's a recent pic of my sweet pea. I just can't get enough of that smile!!
~Thank you for your comments!~

23 comments:

Charity Donovan said...

Thank you for the tips! Can ALWAYS use organizational ideas! =)

Jackie said...

Thank you for you post on organization. I believe I can never be too organized. I do have a question. How do you get Weekly Reader subscription w/o having to order for an entire classroom?

Taylor said...

Hi Mari-Ann! I love reading your blog - there are so many great ideas. I teach preschool and have 10 little learners. This coming week I'm going to start adding some tray activities to my centers. Would you recommend demonstrating how to use them during circle time or letting the children make their own discoveries of their purpose? Thanks!

Raising a Happy Child said...

This is a great organized approach. I am impressed that you manage to get so much schooling done with a baby in house. I might still a daily tray idea and see how long I will stick with it :)

Mommy to the Princesses said...

Thanks for sharing your new routine! Love how organized you are in making sure the core subjects get proper coverage through the week as well as being mindful of making it fun for James! What does the baby do during school time? How do you manage the diversion the baby creates?

Deila said...

You look so organized! I love your ideas and wish I had some younger kids to homeschool again. My last one is 16, so things are transitioning. Lovely blog

homeschoolingthecameronclan said...

Thank you for sharing your new routine as well as you decision/reasons why you have had to change. I am in the process of making similar changes. I just can't do it all anymore. So thank you for sharing, it was comforting to read your post. Good Luck to you!

rainbowmummy said...

Oh, I am just loving the evolution of James' learning!! Can't wait to read about the new library!

Homeschool @ sg said...

I am way impressed! You manage to plan in such great lengths despite having an infant to care for! How do you do it?

Jennie and Adam said...

It's so fun to see what you're up to with James' schooling. Thanks for the post!

Abby said...

Thanks for sharing the evolution of James school, and organization tips. I'm glad you're all adjusting so well and having so much fun learning.

Sarah said...

WOW! I have been working on getting things more scheduled, planned and pulled together. This post is a great help!

http://elliotthomeschool.blogspot.com/

Beth said...

Thanks for checking in with us! I have been wondering how you've been doing with James' schooling now that you've got a sweet little baby in tow. My son is a year younger than James and we do a very relaxed Montessori approach to schooling...but he is now starting to pick up basic math and reading and I have been thinking ahead about what to do once he masters those. It's great to have you as an example of what one family does!

zebaby said...

This post really helps! I don't have a second child, but I am at the point with my son where I would like to get more organized. Seeing your schedule helped me realize that I was on target! It also gave me some great ideas I'd like to use! Thanks for posting :)

Forest-Dweller said...

Thank you for sharing your post. I really like how you have everything sorted out. I must use some of these. VERY HELPFUL!

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing! I like the idea of a daily tray with the worksheets...this would help us to be more organized. Ha! We need a LOT more help with that. :)

Ashley said...

We are also transitioning from Montessori shelf work to more traditional learning activities because that is what my son is becoming more drawn to. Thank you so much for you post! We will be using many of your organization ideas!

Lindsay said...

This post got buried in my reader and I just now came across it! Love the new schedule and seeing you on the blog :-)

Wilma Gray said...

You are so amazing at organizing, what an inspiration!

Kevin, Sonya, Claire, Max or Kai said...

What texts will choose. Please review some or tell me what your using. How do you know what to cover or what one needs to know. Your amazing. Lost without your ideas.

Counting Coconuts said...

@Kevin, Sonya, et al: In addition to creating some of my own activities, and using Montessori materials, I have a large variety of textbooks and workbooks I'm using to teach my children. Typically one book for every subject, though sometimes there's an overlap. LOTS of readers and read-alouds. If/when I have the chance I may post a list of what we're using, but that would be a lengthy post indeed! I look to the Core Knowledge "What Your Kindergartener Should Know" to confirm what topics I should cover. You may want to Google "First Grade Curriculum" - often companies sell pre-set curricula that have everything you'll need. Sonlite is a great (Christian based) company. I haven't ordered from them, but I've garnered some ideas from them. Hope that helps!

Books4Learning said...

great organizational ideas. i love your baby's smile. i am sure it makes your day, everyday!

Unknown said...

Hi,
I love the way you have such an organized homeschool.

I have a reallly difficult time doing the same. I wonder if it is because I did not do that starting on with my daughter and at times had to send her to daycare because I was taking some exams. She is 3 and 1/2 and it is now that we have totally committed to homeschool. But I have a really difficult time maintaining a schedule with her. She gets really bored, if I do it. She wants something different each day except if it comes to reading books. But she does not even like reading the same books next day. And with the baby, don't you feel intrusions, my no day is alike. I have to run arrands in the afternoon too so I try to have learning session before 2pm.

I am just in awe of how your son looks forward to the schedule. I hope my second one is like that as he would never have attended daycare. But my daughter I guess, misses sometimes the fun she has with other kids. I am just hoping she would soon forget all that ;).

Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks....

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