Little aside… tonight, shortly after I publish this post, I am heading up to my comfortable room with a hot steaming cup of tea and I am going to write below mentioned notebooks for all my students. We went a little while just on rote routine and it is time to pull up the boot straps and focus our gaze. Notebooks help us do that. We are working diligently to finish out our school year. Our report cards are due around June 21st. Press through to the finish!
For the first semester of school, I had been using a planner provided by my Homeschool Oversight (that can also be bought through Rainbow Resource). It was moderately effective. I also had a highschool planner for my 9th grader that I used for additional notes on specific assignments and that he uses to log hours for his music and phys.ed requirements as well as extra curricular activities (like Boy Scouts). A lot of things were slipping through the cracks. I had printed checklists and had them tucked in a file folder. I have used checklists with the children for a very long time, now. However, it can be frustrating- with sheets of paper getting lost and adjustments needing to be made. Somehow, it seems really easy to ignore that piece of paper after awhile, too.
I read her (Sarah- at Amongst Lovely Things) blog post and it just clicked for me. I needed all the explanations including why I need to write them every night. Sometimes this translates as first thing in the morning for me. I am wont to talk myself out of doing such things- getting worried that I am wasting time and I should be more efficient. It does take me more (sometimes much more) than ten minutes with six students, though. But it is incredibly worth it. I know it would drive some people batty to have to do such a thing and there can be a little niggling nag whispering that it would be so much more efficient to just have a master sheet to print every week. But a master sheet can never predict all the variations we encounter in any given day or week. And for us, it is just too easy to ignore after awhile…all those little details.
We are all so much more productive and the children are accomplishing so much and achieving a great sense of satisfaction as they check things off. It also serves as excellent accountability as I can easily see what is not being completed and verbally (and somewhat immediately) check in with that child/student. It provides great space to write individualized notes on assignments as well as love on each child with fun stickers and sweet comments.
Right after Norah was born, I discovered a post on using notecards in homeschooling. I am sorry to share that I can’t find that original post anywhere. 😦 So, I can’t link it here. However, the idea and process was akin to the notebooking one. Filling out an index card daily for each child. This was similarly effective for our family but we moved away from it after awhile. It did generate lots and lots of notecards- found floating around the house. Using notebooks has the same “feel’, while also keeping a record of our school – all in one place. My little girls recognize whose book belongs to whom just by the color on the front- this is how deeply embedded they are in our life and school in just these past almost two months. (It has now been much more than two months… 🙂 )
Please read the post on Amongst Lovely Things if this appeals to you at all. Her detailed and simple explanations are so helpful.
If you are interested- below is a little more detail on how I use this tool:
I write everything in them for my children. School, Chores, Music Practice, Events, Boy Scout Requirements, etc. I do not go through each textbook and write the exact lesson they are to do. We school just about every day- often six days a week in some capacity-and work continuously through our books. We have multiple sources of curriculum. The children date every page of work (most of the time) and my older students initial and date the curriculum they use as they go through it. It would probably take me two hours a night to write the exact lesson for every subject for every student. I keep abreast of their progress by checking their work and checking in with them.
Finally a little note- well-learned by me: It is very important to maintain accountability with your older students. I am the driving force behind our school. They have to have the strong sense that my eye will be upon their work and upon their books to provide accountability and ward off temptation to let things slide. They need to be gently and sometimes firmly called back to the standard that has been laid out. They need to be urged and exhorted to put forth their best effort and pursue excellence.
Onward and Upward!
Blessings on your week,