Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Place for Everything (Mom, don't laugh)

I actually remembered to take pictures during school time yesterday. I think I was motivated by the fact that we will be moving (to a new house in the area) in August (more on that later), and we're starting to pack for the US, so I don't know when the house will look quite the same again. I guess, technically, never, since it will be a different house.

I have some shots of the kids doing school, which I will post soon (possibly later today), but since I actually managed to have a post showing a setup that works in our house on a Wednesday, I decided to grab all the gusto I can get and do a Works For Me Wednesday post. Who knows if I'll actually get around to linking it on her post, but it still counts, right?

So, for now, I'm going to share the basics of how our daily work books and read-alouds are organized. I would show our readers and out-of-rotation read-aloud shelf, but, well, it's not that presentable right now. Maybe after we move.

After trying out having each child have a shelf or a 1/2 shelf in a cabinet to house their school books (workbooks, artpacs, mapwork, current readers, etc.) and having them avalanche constantly, we settled on "School Books Bins." MA's and JW's are stored on this little shelf under a coffee table in our family area. MS actually has a plastic basket (somehow I managed not to get a picture of his), because his won't fit in this sized bin, and it's stored underneath one of our family room chairs. The added benefit is that they can bring their basket or bin to where we're schooling, if it's somewhere other than the family area, which the boys do on Tuesdays when we have a meeting at our house.

In this picture you will also see my crochet bag (which I often work on while supervising schoolwork; it keeps me sitting) and a cloth wipes box (okay, a recycled disposable wipes box). A fairly appropriate homeschooling hodge-podge, I thought.

After running to the shelf daily for the read-alouds we needed (where they were shelved with all the read-alouds for the year), we settled on a "school books basket" that houses all of our current read-alouds (literature, science, history and Bible) and that year's Language Arts Instructor's Guides for handy access.

We started schooling with a pencil box for each child that housed their crayons, colored pencils, pencils, scissors, glue, ruler, etc. I had fond memories of my pencil box from when I went to school in England, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. Only no one ever had what they needed in their own box, and they were constantly having to borrow from one another, and the boxes took up precious shelf room for nothing. So, we now have the "Pencil Box," which is technically the "Pencil+ Box," as you can see from the label, because it houses pencils (periodically sharpened by Mommy, because there is a pencil sharpener-eating monster in our house, and Mommy's the only one who can manage to keep up with hers...barely), scissors, and glue. The first person to get started on his/her schooling in the morning (and, therefore, require a pencil) is responsible for bringing the Pencil Box to wherever we're working (usually either the family area or the dining table, but sometimes the kitchen or the kids' room on meeting days). The last person finished is responsible for putting it away.

The Pencil Box's cousin is the "Color Box," which houses all crayons, markers and colored pencils. It is not always needed, but if someone needs it (and, most days, there's either an art project, mapwork or a Miquon page that needs colors), they are responsible for bringing it to our study area. And the last person finished puts it away at the same time as the Pencil Box.

All of our assignments are tracked on Homeschool Tracker where I laid them out at the beginning of the school year and assign them according to our school day calendar each six weeks. Even Mommy has assignments. I have all of our read-aloud assignments assigned to me. I tried e-mailing PDF versions of the kids' assignment sheets to them, but someone was always doing something on their computer when they needed to check them to see what they had next, and then I had to check them off on my computer, anyway, so now we just all work off of my laptop, which goes with us wherever we are in the house.

MA and JW both have a "Letters Page" and a "Number Line." Actually, they're supposed to have a Number Line per math book, so two each, one for Miquon and one for Singapore, but I think by this point in the year they may only each have one that just floats in their school books bin and is retrieved when needed. These help with basic letter/number formation in the beginning and are referred to to avoid reversals after that point. The number line goes to 20, and so can also be used for basic addition and subtraction, if needed. These were both created using StartWrite handwriting software, and I print new ones out (usually in new colors) at the beginning of each school year.

For long-term homeschoolers, I'm sure none of this is earth-shattering, but maybe you'll find an idea that's just what you've been needing. If you're starting out, hopefully it can spark a solution that would work perfectly for your family.