Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homeschool Organization 2012

Teacher Planning Day 2012!! Grant took the girls to his parents for the weekend to give me time to plan and organize for school this year.  My house was insanely quiet for 2 days. I had really been looking forward to it and I enjoyed the time and got a lot done but by the end I was standing at the door waiting for them to come home.

To the planning!
After reading around I decided on a 12 month schedule. I am pretending that I will postmark my letter to the state on August 13 and therefor have until August 13, 2013 to get through all of the plans and have an evaluation done. I don't know how I will feel next summer but as of right now I would like to have an unofficial evaluation next year to make sure I will be doing it right when it really counts.

I used The Planted Trees as a planning reference...this is after searching online for months and reading schedule after schedule. I like her simple schedule.  I also like that her kids are all young and she's teaching them several subjects together. Her eclectic curricula box is also appealing to me. I didn't end up using her exact plans but I like that she got me thinking in a good direction...

First things first.  I stacked up all of the books, workbooks, curriculum that I have been collecting over the last year. It was a mess. Then I went to Target to walk around while I convinced myself that I really want to homeschool.
Unorganized mess!!

I finally came home after a stop at Tan's Asian Cafe for some hot and sour soup and spring rolls. Then I had a piece of chocolate, and rearranged the stacks into subjects, put aside things I like but won't be using within the next few months, recycled a stack of finished workbooks that we don't need to save, and set aside a stack for Goodwill. And then I perused Facebook for a few minutes.

Organized into subjects!

Here are the subjects I want to teach this year:
Reading (Zola) / Letter Recognition and Sounds (Niva)
Math (Miquon for Zola / Manipulatives and Number Recognition for Niva)
Art History (11 Artists specifically)
Presidents (brief intros)
U.S. History
Science (Hands-on experiments)
Bible (Jesus Story Book Bible Curriculum)
Maps and Country Studies

Things causing me anxiety:
I'm afraid to write in the workbooks. How crazy is this? That's what they are for!- yells one side of my brain. But what if you want to use them again for Niva? Or sell them later??- yells the other side of my brain.  So I hold my breath until one side passes out and that's how I decide or perhaps I say that I will always be able to find another book  I like better or at least as much if we decide to something similar again, right? right?  It's okay to write in the workbooks.... It's okay to write in the workbooks...

I'm nervous about losing our loosey-goosey, what do we feel like doing? schedule. Perhaps I'm afraid of self-discipline? Or more like failing at self-discipline... I went to an amazing beginning homeschool meeting recently. Seasoned homeschooling parents mentioned things like figure out what works for your family and make sure to relax- no one mentioned the amount of self-analyzation that comes out of homeschool planning.

Day 2 of Planning:
Spent some time wandering around Goodwill..and Target (again!) Then I worked on organizing our everything room that houses Grant's desk space, the girls art space, my sewing and crafts space, dress-up clothes and homeschool stuff. That helped clear my brain.

I googled 'homeschool plans' for at least the 1,367th time. Read through the same stuff.  Tried to print some planning calendars... found out our printer isn't working with our laptop...forced me to come up with another idea.
Eventually I felt so frustrated that I left the house again (how many times have I done this in 24 hours? I'm losing count)... bought a new huge desk calendar and another brightly colored milk crate came home to eat the leftover chinese food... and I'm ready to go again.

We are going to have 4 weekish cycles. I don't want to write out a plan for each day on the calendar because life changes, things happen and I know we will have to adjust. So I'm going to write out 3-day four week cycles- which means I am guessing we will have home lessons 3 days a week (the other days will be for Little Bird Learning Co-op, field trips, Wilderness Wednesdays, Math Club, weekends, and probably down time) and each daily schedule will be the same for three days of schooling. Which should mean that each week we have a different schedule and every four weeks it rotates. Looks like this:

Week A:
Morning Time
Art History

Week B:
Morning Time
Maps/Country Studies

Week C:
Morning Time

Week D:
Morning Time
U.S. History

We will study Advent for the month of December instead of the rotating subjects and Bible curriculum. So 11 weeks for each rotating subject.
We will also have our co-op's monthly theme woven into our daily studies. And I plan for us to create one lap book per month.

The visual organization of all of this is what has taken me the longest time to figure out but I think I've got it! Last year I had some ideas of things I wanted Zola to learn and I had some materials but they were spread out on different shelves and after a few weeks things really fizzled. We did stuff but it was definitely on a what we were feeling like that day schedule and by the end of the school year I was agitated and she was asking for more learning time that I couldn't pull off. Thank goodness for our co-op giving us some regular structure!

Here's how I finally organized our stuff for this year: (pic of plastic milk crates)

Crate #1
One hanging file for each month.
In each file: One manila folder to create the lapbook, the artist book for the month, any small books to go along with the co-op, science, history or world cultures theme, seasonal worksheets and project ideas
(I may also add book lists so I know what to look for on our library days or to reserve ahead of time.)

Crate #2
The hanging file for the current month.
Bob Books
Hooked on Phonics
Pocket for calendar pieces
President flashcards
The Jesus Storybook Bible and activity guide
Miquon Math
Workbooks for Niva
U.S. History book
Children Like Me
Papers for our pocket chart
Science experiements book
Geography workbook
Map book
(This is our daily box!)

That's our basic organization!
Coming soon: Record-keeping and Curriculum Specifics!