Monday, April 2, 2007

Organizing and Scheduling the Classroom

A topic that causes chaos on the boards. Organizing? How do I organize my classroom? Scheduling? Do I want to do year round? Follow the Public School system? 4 day weeks? 5 day weeks? 5 weeks on and 1 week off? Just go with the flow?

As we come to a close with our fourth year of our homeschool journey, I think that we have found our happy point. For us, year round school with time off for vacations, holidays, and regular light weeks work best. We also enjoy doing four days a week of seatwork leaving the fifth day open for library and field trips.

So how does our seatwork days flow?

We start with penmanship.
My oldest then works on her Kumon projects and Greek copywork while I do reading and math with my youngest.
The history reading is next.
Followed by science for my youngest then oldest.
I then work with my oldest on reading comprehension and math before she does her reading aloud time.
Then it is time for projects in history and science.

What are our light weeks like?

We generally dedicate Monday to bringing the book of time up to date. When we first started our light weeks it was to be used to do projects, play games and review our studies. We are now using it as a week to only do the subjects they want to do that week. We do not do history readings on our light weeks.

How about that Friday, what do you do all day long?

Currently, we use Friday's as a floater so that if we have a mid-week field trip we can finish up our work on Friday but still take time fully enjoy the trip. If there is no field trip scheduled, we generally just go to the library and then play at the local kid's science musuem. I am looking at adding in time on Friday mornings to do music lessons in recorder and/or piano, art history and projects, nature studies and possibly philosophy.

Art projects, history projects, science projects!? How do you get these done?

Currently, I have not been getting them done. But after talking to another homeschool mom who was invited to an open house of a very organized homeschool mom, I have some ideas. This mom spends time every nine weeks putting together all that she needs for all projects into baggies so that she can just pull out what is needed.

I spent my Saturday putting together project baggies to get us through the end of this year (May). We are finishing up Story of the World I and we haven't done a project since the sugar cube pyramid.

What do you put in those baggies?

I put all the items we need that I would normally have to hunt around the house for or go out and buy. That is the genius of this method. You gather up those items and put them in the baggies and anything that you don't have on hand you put on a shopping list and buy everything you need for the next nine weeks.

Then when it comes time to do a project, you just pull out the baggie and everything but scissors, glue, and crayons are in there. So you can really just pick up and do the project.

Ok, I've got the projects what do you do about all the worksheets and books for schoolwork?

I keep a small bookcase in my classroom (dining area) where I only keep manipulatives and our curriculum. If it is not curriculum that is currently being used then it is not allowed on the shelf. All the curriculum that is for later is in our basement on shelves in order of when we will need them. All the curriculum that we are done with is put into a box to put up for sale.

For worksheets, I follow a wonderful method given out on the Well Trained Mind boards by another mom. She uses binders but my children are still small for binders so we use a folder instead. I have two daughters and they each have a pocket in the folder. I put all the worksheets such as coloring pages, maps, copywork, kumon pages in the the folder. I organize the pages so that I can just pull out what they need for that day.

How do you set up your school schedule? How do you plan things out?

I generally plan our tenative plans a year in advance. Whenever I get any new curriculum in I add it to the schedule to see how far it will stretch.

On Thursdays, after my daughters have finished their seatwork though I go through and plan the next week. I write down what we will be doing the next week for each subject area and I pull out all the worksheets and coloring pages and put them in order.

By doing this I find that school is very pick up and go for us almost as if we were using a boxed curriculum but with everything to fit our needs.

I hope that this give some of you ideas and that you are able to find ways to make scheduling and organization to make your homeschool run more efficiently. One of the things we have learned with homeschooling is that nothing stays the same and to be flexible as life brings you new joys, journeys and opportunities. Don't take my words as set in stone, do what is right for your family.

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