Tuesday, September 01, 2009

I'm not hyperventilating, no, not me (Scheduling)

School doesn't start here until next week--we're still spinning our summer wheels. Might even get to the beach this week.

So I would really like to have a clear idea what we're doing this fall for school. So would the Squirrelings. I've sent anxious emails here and there asking for help with some of our problems, and I appreciate the advice I've gotten. A lot of the responses I got had to do with CM-not-overdoing-it, but I don't think that is exactly the problem this year, although with all the Review Crew stuff plus workboxes plus juggling two Squirrelings' schedules, it would be easy enough to do. I'm actually happy with what we narrowed it all down to (how's that for dangling prepositions); so in the past few days it's been more a problem of how to fit it together. Including workboxes.

Sue Patrick's Workbox System is on the Review Crew schedule for this year, but we won't be getting the book until sometime in the fall--and I don't even know if ALL of us are supposed to be trying it out. However, on the chance that we were going to be asked to review it, I thought it would be less disruptive to start that way rather than have to change over. I wasn't going to go out and buy twenty-four shoeboxes, but I did overhaul two shelves of a freestanding cabinet, and I found enough magazine holders to give each Squirreling nine "boxes." Not purely Sue Patrick's method, and we haven't gone for the scheduling strips, but at least we did make "completion charts" to go with them.

(If you've been following along this summer, this is all old news. I'm just trying to put it all together.)

And yes, some of the Review Crew products are more CM-friendly than others. We're supposed to try the things out where practical, or at least examine them closely enough to give a decent review. If I wouldn't use this, is there someone out there who uses a different homeschool method and would find this useful? Or someone with a different learning/teaching style? Not everything is suited to CM Squirrels, and that's fine--but still, we have to make room to try out some of these things. I'm excited about using Nutrition 101: Choose Life! as a kind of combination health, anatomy and food class for both the girls. And since Ponytails did ask for some creative writing this year (something for which we've never used any special curriculum), it seemed worthwhile to make Write with the Best part of the fall/winter plan.

Another program, Artistic Pursuits, was offered to last year's Review Crew, but I had to go scrounge up my own. One level for both girls.

And I ended up getting Coffeemamma's copy of The Easy French, to use with both girls. In answer to Jeanne's question, I have never used this program before, but I was looking for something self-contained that would appeal to both our students at once. I'll let you know how that goes.

So for a do-it-yourself kind of homeschool family, we seem to be suddenly loaded down with "do this on Monday Tuesday Wednesday, start a binder, listen to the CD, do this project, review, review." What made Mama Squirrel reach for the brown paper bag was, first, having to figure out how to use all those other people's programs; and second, fitting those things, even broken down into short, CM-friendly lessons, into a week that doesn't feel like a race car out of control. Now that I've gone over most of the pieces, I think it will work out all right, even with the workboxes, because I can ask each Squirreling to do the parts on her own that seem appropriate, and drop in a "work with Mom" card when necessary. Most of the daily instructions are fairly self-explanatory, and a lot of them will repeat from week to week (do dictation every other Friday, etc.).

Plus...and this is a big issue...I wanted to find ways for the three of us to work together when possible. Ponytails doesn't like spending homeschool days being sent off by herself to study, and with her home just this year or possibly one more, I would like to take advantage of this time we have too. It's not always easy to combine students four grades apart, but we're going to intersect wherever it makes sense.


First thing in the morning, we'll do our Bible/Christian studies time, hymns, memory work, about 20 minutes of French, and a physical exercise.

Then workboxes for most of the rest of the morning--math, language, history (and science for Crayons--Ponytails will do her science later with Mr. Fixit).

The last bit of the morning we'll do together--Outdoor Nature challenges, readaloud science biographies (starting with The Ocean of Truth, about Isaac Newton), composer study, and picture study.

After lunch, Ponytails will work with Mom on Grade 7 English (including the creative writing course) and Other Grade 7 Stuff (Money Matters for Teens, Citizenship, Logic; later in the year a Plutarch study which falls under Citizenship). Crayons will finish up her morning workboxes and work on an animal project (something from the Review Crew).

Mid-afternoon, we'll do readalouds together (including Ponytails' literature selections--I chose the ones that Crayons would probably like to hear too), and alternate the Nutrition 101 and Artistic Pursuits lessons. That leaves extra time if an art project goes long. Nutrition will last till about March, and then we'll either leave the time open or do something else during the spring.

They'll each have an extra-reading list, and Ponytails will have some work to do with Mr. Fixit (i.e. science lessons, plus going over her math work and setting assignments to be done during next day's workbox time).

We have this schedule written up on a piece of poster board in the kitchen, along with colour-coded Post-It notes with names of some of the books we're doing. Blue for Ponytails' books, yellow for Crayons', pink for shared.


I made a black-markered grid, 11 by 5 boxes, on a piece of paper, photocopied it twice, and covered each one with an overhead transparency sheet (I got a whole boxful of those at a yard sale). They can now be written on with a dry-erase marker. 11 sections per day, 5 days per week.

Crayons' grid will look something like this (more or less the same each day): Poems to learn, math, history or science, copywork, literature, spelling, work with Ponytails, animal project, work with Ponytails, and extra reading. That only makes ten boxes, but there's one left over for "surprises."

Ponytails' grid looks like this: Math, copywork, history, group work (nature etc.), Grade 7 Work, Grade 7 English, readalouds, Health/Art, extra reading, and Work with Dad. Also ten boxes, one left over for extras.

Since we have nine magazine holders per girl, the extra reading books will be in separate baskets. (Yes, I can do math better than that. I will probably put two numbers on one box--that's how it comes out to ten boxes plus one extra. I just don't have room on the shelf for more than nine per person.)

Mama Squirrel breathes a sigh of relief.


coffeemamma said...

I got my *phew* moment just this morning ;-)

Your plans look great!

Anonymous said...

We started the workbox system for 4 kids using AO and identity directed resources based on each child, 3 days ago. Its working! Like you...we have group studies first, and then I can alternate the beginning workboxes to coordinate who needs mom (especially at the start of a new year), vs. who can work indepently at that moment. I like the visual very much. We have velcro tabs noting snack and lunch time. The first one who gets to the snack tabs (picks the snack for the day from a pre-chosen rotation) and prepares the snack! Same with lunch. I find I have more time to "mill about" and coordinate the whole, (even stopping to maximum a lesson with a forgotten resource or tool.) We end the day with much literature. I too have a span in ages: 4th, 4th, and 8th & 9th. Its doable and organized.

All sitting at the same table.... and no scabbles yet. :)

A+ for Workbox System!

christinethecurious said...

This is my first year with a schedule notebook, it feels so overwhelming to put together, but the actual days are calmer. If I had used a Charlotte Mason schedule before, I might not have been surprised. Todayis the first day I had to drop the book because of things I forgot to record in it that took priority, so far I'm not fretting about my un-check-off-able slots.

So Far.

I hope your organization system serves you well and you feel comfortable with it soon. I hope mine does too!

Jamie said...

It's hard to figure out a system with all of this extra stuff, isn't it? and trying to do it all in a CM way... GAH.

My two are doing a lot of things at pretty close to the same level... I'm still trying to figure out how I can work the workboxes into that. gah again. I have a year .5, and a year 1 right now... SO... we shall see how it goes.

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