Wednesday, September 2, 2009

first things first...

Due to the responses to my last post, I will start posting about some of the new stuff we're using. But before I started with that, I thought I would post about my attempt at getting organized this year.

Okay... I'll just start by saying that this is an area that I really, really struggle with. I'm not a terribly organized person. To those of you who know me, this comes as no surprise. :-)

So, I've been reading everywhere on the net about workboxes. I really liked the concept, however, I knew there was no way that we would have the space for the system for one child, let alone two. After reading about workboxes, I began reading about the different variations people were doing. Then I stopped reading and tried to figure out what would make sense for us.

And here's what we're trying...
... a modified workbox system using hanging file folder bins.

Each child's bin has twelve folders in it that I fill the night before or first thing in the morning. I then leave their box outside of their room (they each have desks in their rooms now, so we're trying that instead of having stuff all over the dining room table all of the time). They start with folder one... once done, they bring their folder to me to check and put the folder in an empty bin in my office (that bin becomes the next day's full bin, and the empty one from that day goes to my office to receive finished work).

So far, so good.... but we have only used it two days (starting day three). I have found that it makes me batty to fill the files.... I avoid it and then stress out while filling them.... BUT the difference is that this lasts only an hour tops versus the all day stress I would feel in previous years. I fill the files with a good mix of subjects and a variety of activity types (and usually try to have something fun/reward-ish near the end). Once the files are set for the day, I'm done stressing, I stop running around like a crazy woman and just focus on working with the kids as they go through their schoolwork for the day.

Here's an example of one of Alex's folders from yesterday...
(oh... backing up a bit... I made a whole stack of no-frills bookmarks the other day. Each one has five lines with checkboxes. I just write what to do each day on each line and they know to do the first unchecked line. On some of the bookmarks, I fill out all of the lines at once, so I'm done making assignments until we finish all five lines.)

He was supposed to practice his multiplication using our new Wrap-Ups. So, when I went into his room to check on him, this is what he was doing...
I love that the kids are transitioning rather seamlessly from one activity to another. We spent way too much time last year waiting for me to determine what we were doing next and where all of the stuff was that we needed.

Please ignore the chaos of stuff that is all around Clara in the photo below (no matter what, her room always returns to this state within half an hour of cleaning it).

This has been another perk so far...
... music practice. We struggled with finding practice time before... I'm not sure why, but we did. Now I have made a bookmark that says "practice violin" or "practice guitar" and write a time increment on the assignment line. When they get to that folder they grab their instrument and my phone to use as a timer and practice away! Since we just started back to lessons this week I just have them play whatever, but at some point I may write actual songs or exercises as their assignments (mainly because Clara plays Bile 'em Cabbage Down for the ENTIRE fifteen minutes straight... ugh).

So, that's the plan (for now) and I'm happy with it and it's potential. I hope it makes sense, if it doesn't, let me know!

And I'll leave you with a photo that has nothing to do with the rest of the post....
... the girl with a bad case of stripes! :-)

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