Friday, November 11, 2011

Organizing School

I'm sure I mentioned in the beginning of our school year that I did things differently this time around.  I really, REALLY love Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy.  I wanted us to succeed at implementing her methods.  We have a LONG way to go.  I still need to delve into her books to get a better grasp of all aspects of the philosophy.  Bit by bit!  Last year we tried our hand at the Charlotte Mason method, and it was pretty much a flop.  But it had nothing to do with the method, but with ME.  It got to be too overwhelming to try to find our place in multiple books.  Most were online, where a bookmark is not possible.  And with our real books, we kept losing the bookmarks!  Oy, what is an organizing mama wanabe to do?  Well, keep thinking of a way to make it work, that's what :-)  Over the summer I brainstormed.  Yes, this actually took brain power to do, I'm not organized by nature, so I actually had to sit and think on it.  I took my annual trip to McDonald's with my *huge* bag of books, pen, paper and other stuff.  I like to get away to plan our next school year, but I can only do so come night time (when babe is asleep), so that leaves little options open to me as to where I go :-)  Anyways, I sat and thought out what days we would read each book. Then I thought out how I was going to make it happen.  And here is what I came up with. 

For our online books:

I actually took screen shots to show you all, only because I am so computer illiterate that when people try to talk computers my mind spins.  I like visual.  So here is my visual tutorial on how I make this less painful to do during our school time:

Ok, above you see my screenshot into window's explorer on my laptop.  Below is where I normally access my folders, right on my desktop:

Those 'graphics' documents are not normally there, they are the graphics I'm using for this post!  Ha,ha.  So just ignore them.  Off on the right hand side you see our school folders.  We are still in the first trimester (3 weeks left), but I just got done organizing our second semester stuff, so that is there too.
From the top down, we have: Term 2 together (the things we do all together, like art study, and composer study), Year 3 AO-2 (Year 3 Ambleside Online, semester 2)...and I think you can figure out the rest from here.

If I were to click on the Year 3 AO-2 folder this is what I get:

Above you see the books I will be reading to Flannery and Saoirse for the second semester.  These are the books that are free online.  We will get a couple from the library as well.  If its time to read Children of the New Forest, I just give it a click and....

We come up with each week of the second semester.  On a sheet of paper, in my school organizer binder (tour of that coming up) I have which days of the week that we read each book.  If we are to read Children of the New Forest today, and we are in week 13, I just click on the week 13 folder.  When I do that we get this:

We see we will be reading chapters 1 through 3.  When I click on the above document it opens in Word.  And off we go to read! 

This does mean that I have to separate each online book into separate documents.  Most of the books on our schedule tell you how many chapters you are to read each week.  Some just tell you to read 1/12 of the book for the week, leaving the guess work up to me.  It took me a couple of nights to do our first semesters planning.  But I was able to do the second semester in a couple of hours, now that I know what I am doing. 

What do I do with our real books?  How do I keep track of what page we are on?  Colored paper clips!  And when I have two girls in the same book, but on different pages, I just use two different colors :-)

The yellow one is for Saoirse, and the orange one is for Flannery.  This is their phonics book.

See?  I just flip to the page with the paper clip, and the side of the clip that is more like an 'arrow' is the page we need to read.  Something this simple makes my life so much easier!

Now for a look into my school binder.  I have a simple 1" or 1/2" yellow floppy 3 ring binder.  The first two pages are for the order in which we do things, and which days we read their books.  Above is Year 6 (Isabella and Moira).  The things in orange we do together (all four girls).  Then the older girls go off to do the rest of the things on the list.  I read to the younger two girls, and help them with the things they can't do on their own.  We have not been doing spelling like we should, I plan on making sure to get that in there for the second semester.  I really like the All About Spelling program, I just need it to work for our family.  I don't do well when I have to go all around the house grabbing our school stuff.  We plan on doing our big house purging this weekend, I am hoping that I can find a way to make some of our other schooling things work for us.  I also need to work Jedidiah into the works.  There is a year 0 I believe, that I may start Jed and Jonah off with.  I think Jed would do well with regular phonics lessons. 

After the daily schedule, are our attendance records.  There is one for each girl. I blocked off the top that has private information :-)

After the attendance records I have a monthly calendar.  I have a whole year, and when I'm done with one month I move it to the back of the pack. 

After my monthly calendars I have this yearly one.  I use it to plan out our vacation days.  I make sure to do it in pencil as illnesses and other surprises come up and I need to rearrange things. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not strict with this!  But I do try to make sure we get our required 180 days of schooling in. 

All of the other above papers are in the first tab of my binder.  Behind the second tab you will find the detailed reading schedule for Ambleside Online that I got off of the Yahoo Group.  The one above is for Year 3, the first semester.  There are some books, mostly history, that we do not read.  Jeremiah has his own plans for history for the girls, so we go by a different reading plan. 

I didn't take pictures of the other things in my binder as there are only some blank schedule sheets, some scripture encouragement, and the GAPS protocol outline (the different stages). 

There you have it.  Finally finding my way in the sea of homeschooling :-) 


Lisa H. said...

Wow, Kerri,

You've been doing some serious planning! Great!
I love your new background... is this one of your own quilts? It's so cheery and homey.
Keep up the good work, and may the Lord bless and direct your steps.
p.s. ...and I just realized that I still haven't sent you a link to the post I'd mentioned to you some time ago about the household planning notebook....I will get that to you one of these days.... it may further inspire!
Way to go, sister!

Kerri said...

Oh, yes, please do send that link! I need inspiration :-)

As far as the quilt, no it's not mine. I wish it was! Ha, ha! I had a quilt in the making, got the backing on, but could never get around to quilting it. I am much more successful at crocheting blankets. I can easily take it with me, as opposed to a large quilt.


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