26 July 2010

A New School Year Begins!

Back to school
It’s the first day of school for us today. We had a good summer break; too long actually. With the weather being so hot no one wants to go out to play so we’ve been spending most of our days in front of the TV. Twice a week we go to a friend’s house where the girls have been helping their younger friends with reading and math. After they are done working we frequently enjoy an hour at the pool. This, I’ve found, is a nice break of the week for my girls and for me as I get to chit chat with a friend. We will continue to do this until they start school in the fall but only once a week in the afternoons. Sunday’s have become swim days at my parent’s house. They live on a lake and we enjoy taking over their dock and they enjoy the time with their grandchildren. The girls love grandma and grandpa and it is nice to have this time together. We’ll have to find a new excuse to go over there or have them over here when the weather turns cold.

Workbox System

Last school year I got sick of having to answer those inevitable questions; “how much do I have to do?” “Do I have to do the whole lesson?” “How much is left?” All these question bug me to no end. I can’t stand hearing them and I can’t stand answering them. However, I realize that these questions do need an answer.

In my internet travels I came across the Workbox System by Sue Patrick. Sue Patrick created this system for her autistic child. She uses a shoe rack and 12 shoe boxes to implement her system. Please look for her book and speaking events to find out more about how she created the system and how she works it. There are some things I didn’t like about her system. I understand why she uses the system as she does; but all families are different. So the things that didn’t work for us are:
1. I didn’t need 12 boxes. At 4th and 7th grade, I don’t like to give the girls a lot of busy work. They have enough work to do with out trying to fill 12 boxes with a lot of fluff. I also like to follow a time schedule. We have 9 periods during the day. One is for lunch and 1 is for snack. I’ve spaced the day out with adequate time for each subject. Some subjects get more time than others.

2. I don’t have enough room in my homeschool room to put 2 shoe racks with 12 boxes on it. Our homeschool room is in a small bedroom so space is an issue.

3. I don’t like that the books can’t sit flat in the shoe boxes. If you look at photos of how others have implemented the system their books are either folded up or sticking out. I didn’t like that. If they are going to stick out, I’d rather them stand up straight.

With all this in mind I came up with my modified workbox system. Finding the containers was the hardest part. I came up with tons of ideas but none seemed to work. Finally, we just went to the store to see what we could find. I found plastic containers with lids that are big enough to fit a large binder and some other supplies but not too big that they won’t stack on our shelves. I got 7 boxes, 1 for each subject. I also added a small bento box to the stack for snack time so that makes 8 boxes all together.

How they work:

Every evening I fill each box with the appropriate subject’s assignment and everything needed to complete that assignment. I’ll include a small “Work with Mom” card if applicable and directions for completing the assignment.

Each child was given a card with a grid of boxes numbered 1 through 8. To each box I attached, with Velcro, the numbers 1 through 8. When the child is done with the assignment in the box they get to remove the number from the box and put it on their card. They seem to really enjoy this part. I have the cards hanging on hooks just inside the homeschool room door. They take it down when they enter and hang it back up when they leave. A full card means the school day is done and they seem to enjoy this visual reinforcement.

At the end of the day it is my job to go through the boxes and check their work. I also have to refill the boxes with the next day’s assignments. This helps to keep me on track as well. I can’t let myself be lazy and leave my grading for another day.

The following is our daily schedule as well as the books we are using this year. As usual, the times may change if we realize we need more or less time to complete a subject.

7am-8am: Wake up – Showers – Morning chores

8am-9am: Breakfast and free time

9am-9:50: Box #1: History Odyssey

9:55-10:45: Box #2: Singapore Math

10:50-11:20: Box #3: Science: Spectrum (M), REAL Science Odyssey (T&T), History of Science from Beautiful Feet (W)

11:25-11:35: Box #4: (the bento box) Snack (a piece of fruit, a granola bar, etc.)

11:40-12:10: Box #5: Spelling (Butterfly), Literature (Turtle)

12:15-1pm: Box #6: Grammar (M&W): Ridgewood (Butterfly), Rules of the Game (Turtle) / Vocabulary (T&T): Word are Wonderful (Butterfly), Vocabulary from the Roots Up (Turtle)

1pm-2pm: Lunch

2:05-2:35: Box #7: Handwriting (M&W Butterfly) Spectrum Writing (Turtle M&W) OR Reading Comprehension in Various Subject Matter (T&T)

2:40-3:20: Box #8: Religion: The Content of Their Character from Torah Aura (M&W Turtle) Alef Celebrations (M&W Butterfly) and Critical Thinking: Ridgewood Analogies (T&T)

3:30: Afternoon chores: M: Bathroom and Kitchen; T: Living Room and Sun Room; W: Bedrooms; T: Family Room and Homeschool Room; F: Touch up and get ready for Shabbat

6:30 Dinner

9:00 Bed Time 9:30 Lights out for Butterfly but Turtle can stay up a little longer and read if she wants to.

Fridays our schedule is a little different:

Box #1: History

Box #2: Math

Box #3: Music or Art

Box #4: Snack

Box #5: Spelling Test (Butterfly); Literature (Turtle)

Box #6: Internet Literacy (Turtle) Vocabulary from the Roots Up (Butterfly)



3pm-5pm: Park Day with the homeschool group

That's us in a nut shell; a very appropriate place for us!