Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fresh Start

I like fresh starts. The old is gone. The new is- well, new! We've officially started our school year. We did some random, inconsistent schooling over the summer, but now we're serious! I'd been researching Sue Patrick's Workbox system and then I had the opportunity to hear her speak as a part of Heart of the Matter's Online Conference. (That was awesome in itself. If possible, plan to be a part of Heart of the Matter's Conference next year!) Sue Patrick is a wonderfully imaginative, organized and creative person. Her system really makes sense for keeping students on track.
We customized her ideas in ways that are really working for us. I think we'll continue to change it as we see what works best. We are using a standing plastic drawer set with 5 drawers for both of the kid's work. I got bright pink notecards for Kaity and bright orange for Charlie. In each drawer each student might have two or three different assignments, and they have the option of getting them out one at a time, or all at once. Each assignment has a colored number (made from the notecards) paper-clipped to it along with any instructions. On the front of each drawer are little laminated "task badges" that tell the kids what the task is, attached with Velcro dots. They are required to work in the order that I put the tasks for now. There was discussion today about if they could do their tasks in whatever order they want. The benefit of them following my order is I can have a little control over how the day goes- like having only one on the computer at a time, or having both free to do history, which we do together. They have "task cards" which also have Velcro dots (12 for now). As they do each task they move the task badge from the drawer to their cards. It really helps them visually recognize that they are getting work done and that there is an end. I made the task badges from simple clip-art or just words printed in color. They made the task cards from scrapbook or art paper. I laminated everything with a roll of contact paper.
This is a far cry from the beauty of organization that Sue Patrick's idea is. Really I'm not exaggerating, it would probably be worth it to buy her book just to see all her incredibly creative ideas. (I'm pinching pennies to buy it for myself.) I like that this forces me to have their work ready at the beginning of the day. At first I dreaded that, but it really isn't that bad. It takes a few minutes of preparation and gives me a smooth day of schooling. I am trying to be an organized person, and this really does help. The kids are working and setting goals for themselves. They stayed at work today a couple of times even though I had to leave the room with the baby. There are still a few little kinks to work out and there is the standard, "I don't want to do school" that I have to endure for a few days. Even that is better than last year. They know that momma means business and that negotiations will not be beneficial to them!
Schooling with the baby is not as hard as I thought it would be. I'm hoping it stays that way. Today he played with some toys while laying in the pack-n-play, snoozed in the swing and tried his best to get slobbery fat fingers on the papers and pens on the table while I held him in my lap. He seems to really love the grabbing part, if the rapid kicking of those fat thighs is any indication at all!
The week is off to a great start, even though Charlie is dealing with a low grade fever and I am completely worn out by the end of the day! I really want to schedule in some personal time to do some writing. That will be hard to do. I also want to continue to improve on my consistency with deeper Bible study.


Mommy Reg said...

Sounds like you are off to a great start! As the year goes on you will tweak as needed to make things smoother. That's how it goes at my house anyways. I've been thinking about the workbox system and how it would work here. Not sure yet. I am excited to here how it works for you. :)

Ashli said...

Cool system. Good luck!
A quick thought about the problem with letting them choose what to do based on limited resources i.e. computer: what if you allowed them to arrange their schedules with the caveat that one had to do computer based things in the morning and one could do computer based things in the afternoon. Everyone is more motivated when they can do things when they are ready to do them and can learn what is best for them. In addition, it prepares them for life at a real job, where you are required to set up your own work schedules.

Cheri Bunch said...

I am so proud of you, Corrie! Your kids might be writing about this someday!!!! Have the best time ever!!! Love you!!!!