Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Assigning Assignments

Another post without pictures!  Ugh!  I really need a new camera!

For me, the communication of daily assignments and expectations is one of the most important parts of the planning process. Because my children are all so different, I find that each one of them needs a specific type of system to ensure they understand the work that is required of them each day. I imagine it sounds tedious to do it differently for each child, but it's really no big deal. The tedious part is what I finished recently - the lists of assignments to be completed throughout the year. Now that those lists are accomplished I simply use them to make assignments.

For Social Butterfly, I mentioned we will be using Mother of Divine Grace. This year, MODG has made some great improvements and everything is on line. All I have to do is go to the website for enrolled members, click on her lists and print them out. Easy Peasy! I should say that I do have a copy of the written syllabus as well. This isn't really necessary now, but there have been times, more and more lately :( that we have not been able to connect to the internet. Having a written copy of the syllabus ensures that we can stay on track. So, for Social BF, I simply print out her lists and then each Monday morning (EARLY - while the rest of the house is asleep) we will go through her lists, discussing what is required, any new or difficult concepts coming up, and completion deadlines. She will record these assignments into a simple student planner that I purchased for her. That last step probably isn't necessary, but it helps to make sure she has seen and understands each assignment before she writes it down. Since Social BF is in 8th grade and quite independent I don't meet with her formally every day. This first "formal meeting" is the starting off point, and later in the week we will sit down together to go over things and make sure she is on the right track. We do a lot of informal discussion as the week goes on though. Narrations are required and one of our favorite times for this is while I prepare dinner. Sometimes she will sit at the end of the kitchen counter and we will discuss her readings and sometimes she helps prepare dinner while we discuss. We also have discussions in the car, before bed, early in the morning ...
It's easy to make sure I get discussion times in with this extroverted daughter of mine!

For Jetter, I still feel the need to meet with him on a daily basis and some of his subjects are done one on one with me. Jetter will have a combination assignment sheet / workbox approach. I created an assignment sheet that goes along with our history studies this year. I borrowed Jen's idea over at Wildflowers and Marbles of giving the year a theme and then creating an assignment sheet to go along. Since we are studying Medieval History this year, I loved her Year of Knights and Explorers theme and used that as our base, then tweaked it a bit to suit our needs. Jetter saw me creating his assignment sheet and he's very enthused about it!  His reading ability has really taken off lately and he can't wait to dive into the pile of books that awaits him.

Jetter doesn't really need the official workbox set up, but having the books and papers he needs as the day progresses, in order, really helps him to stay on track.  When I was in 2nd grade I had a wonderful teacher, Sister Leuetta, who used the system I am thinking of.  At the start of the day she had listed on the board each subject and what we would be doing.  The first thing we did each morning as we came in, was to check the board, and then working from bottom to top place the book, folder, or paper that we would need for each assignment in the right hand corner of our desk.  As we went through the day, the book or other item would be placed in our desk when it was finished.  By the end of the day our desk was clear and the books were neatly put inside them.  I tried this with Jetter last year and it helped him to see exactly what he had accomplished and what was still waiting for his attention.  I wish there was a way to do this with housework!

I'll so something similar for Builder, but since he is in 3rd grade and not a strong reader yet, I spend a lot of time at his side.  For his set up, I have a 3 drawer tower that sits on his desk. 

(His desk, by the way is a sliding glass door from our patio entry.  When we replaced it with french doors my husband took the hardware off, set it up on a couple of kitchen cabinets and made a perfect work surface for a couple of kids.  Builder is at one end and Beany is at the other.  It works great and clean up is a breeze!) 

Back to Builder's set up.  The 3 drawers sit on his desk and in them I keep the work that he can do independently.  Copywork, Explode the Code workbooks, and his Saxon Math workbook are currently housed there.  Each morning, since I start with Beany, Builder knows to get working on the items in those drawers.  If you do Saxon Math for the younger grades you know that it isn't exactly an independent subject.  However, I usually do the lesson with Builder during our time together.  We complete the first side of the page together.  The next day, while waiting for his turn with me, he does the second side.  He is able to do this on his own since we did a similar assignment together the day before. When I work with Builder I use an assignment sheet similar to Jetter's but I keep it on my clipboard.  The first thing we do is stack his books in the order we will use them, and go through each subject that he does with me, putting things away as they are completed. 

Beany doesn't really have a set up.  I keep his assignment sheet on my clipboard and since he is the first person I work with we sit down together and go through his subjects.  What Beany does have is lots of free time after I work with him.  It works best for him to have that divided into sections.  I am currently working on organizing the activities on our shelves so they are easily accessible to him.  When he is done working with me he can choose an ativity off the shelves, play with PJ, or spend time with one of his older siblings.

I'm also trying to set up an area for PJ.  PJ is 19 months and a major distraction right now.  Dealing with that can be frustrating, but knowing he is probably the last little one we will have around here makes it a bit more bearable.  One thing I do is have the older kids take turns with PJ duty.  That will be part of my next post regarding routines and schedules.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Is it really the tenth day of August?  Did Night Owl really leave for college just yesterday?  Did I really plan to start back to school last Monday?  Really?!!! 

I've been so busy with life I haven't really even posted any fun pictures from our summer which is quickly zooming by.  It's been a busy one and we have more busy-ness go come!  While my Planning Posts may make it seem like I've been doing nothing but hunching over school books and planners, we've really had lots of fun.  Thanks to Social Butterfly and her camera I even have a few pictures to post. 

So, here's the summer so far ~

A trip to Cedar Point in Ohio ...

Camping, of course! ...

Lost of fishing for Night Owl and Beany ...

Rock Wall Climbing...

And, while my camera wasn't working ...
Open Houses for graduating friends, family reunions, lots of kayaking and tubing, swimming lessons, trips to Hillsdale College, and just tons of fun.  It's been a busy summer and now we're ready to get back to the routine of school!