• Home-School Binder

    Monday, November 4, 2013

    We are now settled deeper into fall, and school is set, the days filled with learning.
     I am pleased, this year seems to have an ease about it. It could be we have past the learning-curb years, this being the fifth year of educating at home.  Or that we waited until the cool of October to start book learning, Autumn's beauty and pleasant weather kept my young ones enthralled, why pull them indoors when the sun still warms and nature is displaying her beauty with enticement?
     But I think it may have more to do with a little organization. This year I planned more thoroughly then I have in past years.  I find once I start school I quickly forget all I wanted to cover, what books, topics, pages, poems and activities I want to teach on and from. It also seems that once school gets started finding time during the week to prepare next week rarely happens.
      This year during schools long break and my mind wasn't consumed with the daily teaching I planned every term, month, week and day.  Looking ahead with my hopes still a thought, it seemed somewhat ambitious, yet it was easier than I thought and has provided me with a certainty that all is in order for the next school week, month and term.
    Scope & Sequence
    I started with a scope and sequence. This is a scope and sequence I tailor made for our family, you can find many on the internet and books,  we fallow the Charlotte Mason approach to education which mostly employs high quality reading materials, narration and dictation as opposed to work books/curricula/tests.  As a teacher I then must organize the materials we will cover,  where as many home-school programs come with teacher and student outlines. A scope and sequence has become an essential part of my school year planning once I have made one for that school grade I can glance at what materials we need, and what we should be covering that grade, also I then have it for future children when they come to that school grade.
    On the left side if the page I list all the subjects we will be covering that year with the recourses we will use as a group. The next column is the resources just Marion is using (she is in grade four) and then the next column is for Davina (she is in grade one). I try to cover as many topics together as possible as this cuts down my teaching load.
    Terms One, Two and Three
    Next step I  take a calendar decide when we will start and finish the school year and all the breaks in between, then I calculate how many weeks we will have at school, then break those weeks into terms. Our school year usually covers three terms. I make three rough draft term pages and jot down the  subject list.  With each subject I gather the recourses all ready written out in my scope and sequence, taking those resources I will break it into three terms, placing the book, chapters, page, poem, movie, audio story, field trip and all other teaching materials into which term I will use it in. At this point my table and floor is covered with stacks or teaching materials all pulled from the shelves and put into subject piles. It's a mess!
    Weekly Plan
    Now is the fun and most helpful part! Breaking your terms into weeks. This year my week schooling is different as we are doing all our academics Monday-Wednesday. Thursday we have a fine arts day. Friday we take off or plan our outings and felid-trips on this day.  This has worked beautifully for us.
    I work with the first term, breaking the already divided recourses into days, how many pages or lessons we will cover and on what days. Again I list the subjects on the left with the days of the weeks along the top. Each subject has a box under the day. This part I color coat ,group subjects are in black, Marion dark green and Davina light green.
    If I am going to cover three chapter books a year for geography I will take the first book, count out the chapters. Let's say there are ten chapters , I will have put the first book into term one, now when dividing into days I will take each chapter and break the pages into days, fist chapter has 6 pages so in the subject box Geography, Week One, Monday-Wednesday I will put two pages per day. The I want each girl to color in their map book ( a binder filled with maps of the continents, blank except for country borders, when we read about a country or region, we will find it on our globe then the girls will identify it on their map, color the place we have learnt and write its name) I may have Marion give me an oral narration of the two pages we read and Davina look at a picture book about the person or place we read about. All this is written in the subject box for that day, and their specific work highlighted in their own color. This means in seconds I can glance at the day, subject recourse, and know exactly what  I need to teach, and what the girls need to be doing.
    So term One has twelve weeks. Each week has the days running along the top. With the recourses needing to be covered in its subject and day box.
    I have our Bible, Memory, Math, Writing & Language Arts, Literature, Poetry, History, Geography, Science, Foreign Language, Art & Art History, Music & Music History, Nature Study, Shakespeare each of these subject are broken down into days! This has truly saved me any thought once school gets started. I just turn to which week we are on, look to the day, then the subject and know what we are doing.
    At the bottom of each week I have two boxes for me to jot down any notes, one box is for Reminders and the other is Extras. I have this so if we  need a supply or a library book I can jot it down right when I'm thinking of it. Or if something's not working like I hoped, I will make a note so I can adapt it for the future.
    Once all my terms were divided into weeks and my weeks organized into days I move on to the final few steps.
    School Schedule
    We do our schooling right after lunch when I put the babies down for their naps. We usually have three hours before nap time ends.  Our school schedule is from 12:00p.m until 4:00p.m. 12-3 I am working with the girls and from 3:00 on Davina is free and Marion has an hour of independent learning time. She covers the school-work she does not need my help with.  As I stated earlier we teach based on Charlotte Mason's philosophies of education, one of her key beliefs is that there should be a broad spectrum of subjects covered, yet each subject should be kept to short lessons, 10 - 20 minutes. The only subject we spend more time on is math which is closer to 40 minutes an academic day. Now that we are covering all our academics in three week days our lessons are 20 minutes, except for math.
    Our schedule will be in twenty-minute segments, moving quite rapidly through the four hours of school. Marion and Davina are color coded again and I can see what each should be doing at the different times.
    I also include their full day schedules into my home-school binder.  So I can see what comes before and after school for that day.

    Assembling my Home-School Binder

    The fun and easy part. I used the same layout as my home-management binder. I use a white three ring binder. I put every page in a plastic page protector.

    These are the steps from front to back
    I made a cover and labeled the spine.

    In the front I put a envelope for my pens and labels, I have a note pad tucked into the binder holder along with my key Bible verse selected to encourage and keep me focused this school year.
    First Page is our Home School Schedule

    Second Page is the girls individual schedule

    Scope & Sequence

    Term One - Three: twelve weeks behind this label

    I have placed my important documents from our umbrella school in the back pages, such as the field trip list, phone directory, reimbursement policies.

    Then I have two large binder envelopes labeled for each girl, In these I place important notes and papers I receive about or for their schooling.

    Homeschooling is a unique adventure, personal to the feel and flare of every family.
    It is not as readily available to find easy organization tips, trades and tools for the homeschooling family compared to planning for kids regular school.
    Each year I adapt and change what I have previously done, because every year my family has grown in size, and every year my students have gotten older. Every year we adapt because every year we change.
    I am always wanting to improve and iron out the weak spots in our busy home. Most often this means working on my discipline, doing my work efficiently and as smoothly as possible. A plan has always helped me with this and provides a simple structure for my bustling family.
    I am always amazed at the freedom that comes when time is not wasted on wasted time.
    And so this year there is a Home-School Binder to add to my Home-Management binder and I am pleased because order and eliminating guess work is a blessing to this busy mama with a bustling brood of babies!