I have started some things recently- after much trial and error over the years- that are working very well for my little school.
One- is “the checklist.”
I created a checklist for each of my children and also two for me. Right now, the checklists are in a binder. Each list is inside a sheet protector and I use a dry erase marker and check off items each day- erasing to begin afresh with the new week. I prefer to print and date these lists and check them with a pencil or pen. It gives me more satisfaction, checking with something permanent. It also serves as a record of our school days. Plus, the dry erase marker has been frustrating me as it does not “stay” on the page and sometimes the page shifts and my checks don’t line up with items!
The checklist has been incredibly useful. It focuses all of us, almost instantly. We look at the list and are reminded of what we need to do. We set to work. I do not hand these lists to the children. I keep them all and supervise each one. I tried giving copies to the boys and having them check work off, etc. That is one of my “fails” from my trial and error. It is much easier for me to keep the lists in a central location and check them off throughout the day. I am responsible for their education… I am responsible for the checklists, too. 😉 I made one for each child that I am schooling. I can see at a glance where we are throughout the week. I can see who needs more priority and who has covered most of his bases. It also helps us get it all done. With so many children- I can’t keep anything straight in my head. Having it written down, assures that it gets done and I don’t forget all about it. The little ones feel included. They know they have a checklist too, and they watch as I check their items off. On my checklists, I put things like vitamins, teeth, bedtime routines, etc. Sadly- I am prone to “fly away” from these routines in the midst of the busy day. Having them on the list, brings me back.
I do not have anything solved as far as sorting their school paperwork. Right now, it goes in a special pile. The hope is that I would file it at the end of each week. That hasn’t happened yet, though. Instead, I tend to file it all in one big chunk, when I am able. Maybe I will try having them insert their work into their binder as we complete it? I think my older boys could do that… but I am wondering if they are still too young and learning responsibility in too many other areas right now.
The second thing that has been working really well for us is the “breakfast meeting.” It is not always a breakfast meeting. Sometimes it is the “morning meeting.” Regardless, we all gather at the table for prayer, hymn, and Scripture passage. I take prayer requests and I make announcements about our day. Then we are all on the same page. It helps unifies us to head into our day- instead of each of us-off going on in our own direction. It also helps set a tone focused on the Lord, which is beneficial for all. I call this meeting as soon as everyone is available. This has been really helpful. Over the years- this has morphed in many different ways, depending on the age of the newest baby and such. However, I am convinced that it is worth the effort to persevere with this. It has really helped focus our school. I keep it quick for the younger ones. But I am still hoping to stay consistent with this. We need the Word to start our day. It is also good discipling time for me with the children.
Third- I give all of my reading school age children “morning work.” This is work they are responsible for, immediately upon finishing breakfast. It is work that they do independently and I check later. Checking later is very important. It provides necessary accountability for the students. Having morning work responsibility gets the boys working alone and diligently and enables me to attend to other things, school the little ones, rescue the baby off the top of the chair, etc.
Micah’s morning work looks like this: (he should be already dressed and have eaten breakfast- and hopefully had our morning meeting)
Bible and Notebook
Saxon Math Lesson
Building Spelling Skills
He also sometimes plays with his one year old brother in the play yard while I supervise Nate’s piano practice.
Nate’s morning work:
Sweep Kitchen Floor
Asher’s morning work
Tidy Bathroom (he often forgets this- the checklist is helping!)
So-in summary of this post: two helps I have benefitted from in our homeschool: the checklist and the morning meeting. Thirdly, setting my children up with morning work, right away, first thing has added smoothness and independence to our days.
I always wanted to… sometimes my heart still goes there… gather round and read aloud first thing in the morning. But this has just been impractical for me with all the children. It never goes as I hope and ends up frustrating us all. Reading aloud just fits better for us after lunch. I do read aloud to Asher when I teach his school to him and that is mid-morning, though. Because I am not a morning person, having the morning work for the boys, helps me get my brain in gear. 😉 It also gives them a good productive start to their day.
Here is a sample of my little Jonah’s checklist. He is three.
Workbook (About Three)
Little Hands to Heaven (www.heartofdakota.com)
Read Aloud with Mommy
**Fold towels and bring upstairs (this hasn’t been happening consistently yet)
I am glad to share- some of my