Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to the routine

The summer is drawing to a close and families with school age children are getting back to the routine that school imposes upon the week.

I, for one, have a mixed bag of feelings that comes with schooling my kids. For the most part I love the structure and the excitement that school generates. On the other hand, I hate the drudgery and the demands of it. I think we're all in the same boat there. Like most aspects of family life, the blessings and the hardships come bundled together. Sleepless nights and sticky diapers go hand in hand with the snuggles and sweetness of a newborn in the same way that wonder and discovery come with a hectic schedule and days that flood past September into Christmas.

We took a deep breath and dove right in to school last week. For the first time, all five of my kids are schooling. I have compressed my schedule from five days to four, so our days are longer, but the week is saner. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic (social studies, science, spelling), chores are included in the curriculum, so that the house is clean by the end of the school day if we do it right. For six days (yes, we're in the middle of week two), we have done it right. Each day so far has ended with the house looking good; the kids going to bed tired but content; mom remaining relatively sane; and the husband admiring and writing commentary on the days' "braggables" (papers or projects the kids choose to pin up so that dad can see them when he gets home from work).

My organizational scheme this year involves having pencil boxes for each student--where I stash the days' supplies of glue, scissors, markers, or math manipulatives as I make lesson plans for the next day--and milk crates where each child's curriculum lives. Each is color coded to the child's favorite color. In addition, I purchased colored sticky notes to tag pages and write curriculum notes to remind me of the lesson. This color coding and sticky note system is not my idea. It was learned from a public school teacher who taught in the modern day equivalent of a one-room schoolhouse. She taught 4th to 8th grades. To keep track of it all, she had a color code for each grade and her lesson planning included sticky notes. Both systems allowed her to know at a glance what she was doing for every subject. In such a system, transitions were a breeze. That's been a blessing this year with my little one (dining)room school house! I learned from the best!

I expect the honeymoon to end anytime now, but it was a good start by all measures. I hope the rest of you out there in the ether of the Internet, have as good a start to the "new year" that comes every fall, be you homeschoolers, public or private schoolers, ex-schoolers, or preschoolers.


Here's hoping for more pictures and posts. We budgeted for an upgrade in hardware and internet service for this year, and hope to have it up and running in the next few weeks. I just have to show you my color coded system!

Meanwhile, here's the link to the Podcast on this subject. Give a listen!

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