Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Can I get a Whoop Whoop...

I have bravely gone where so many of you have already been smart enough go.

I have bit the bullet and gone against every free-spirited bone in my body.

I have changed our homeschool forever.

I have implemented the Workbox System.

And I love it!!

Well, maybe that was all a bit over dramatic, but seriously yall, it has changed my life.  You see before the other night at 11:30 when I was devouring every word of Ruthanne's workboxes here, I was the homeschooler-poser.  The faux schooler.  I was trying to be the homeschooler that I "wished" I could be...clear as mud??  Well let me explain...

When we first embarked on this journey I had these visions of fall weather {year round}, nature studies for hours on end, and my girls reading, understanding, and enjoying classic literature.  I immediately thought we would travel back to the 1800's and everyone would be calling me Ma by the week's end.  I even demanded dresses, bonnets, and aprons {well, not really, but I was almost there}. 

Then 3 weeks ago we started school, and what I had envisioned just didn't happen.  It all went down in a blaze of glory {cue the Bon Jovi} as I have begun to understand the real me and my real children.  I was just getting such a small snippet of them after school, that I am not even sure if I knew the real know, their attention spans, their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses.  My kids have always made straight A's and have had the highest G.P.A. in their classes for years, so we have never really given any thought to their learning styles...we just thought everything was great.  But, it became very clear very quick that Kamryn is a speed racer and Karsyn is a snail.  I say that jokingly, but really that is an honest comparison.  Kamryn is doing 2 lessons of Math each day on the computer {Teaching it} which takes her around 15-20 minutes...AND SHE GETS EVERY PROBLEM RIGHT!  While I am teaching Karsyn math for roughly an hour.  My days have been spent exclusively with Karsyn almost, simply because it just takes her longer.  What is happening is after 15 minutes Speed Racer over here is back at the table asking me, "What can I do now, Momma?" which in turn distracts the Snail and sets us back while I try to wrangle her back in.  

Not good.  

So I came to this conclusion real fast and in a hurry...

Reading for hours on end....not this year...not until I can get Karsyn moving a little bit faster.

Nature studies outside for hours on end...are you kidding me...its still 100 degrees here.

Bonnets and dresses....say what....Im not even wearing shoes.  {Dont judge.}

Classic about lets order some phonics readers and get this party started!

I knew we had to make a change.   I think what sealed the deal for me is once I read The Well Trained Mind, I became aware of the fact that I was going about this all the wrong way.  Susan Wise Bauer says in her book that at this age math, language, and reading are the most important things with everything else being secondary.  To sum it up she basically says {because Im too lazy to go get the book} that if your child doesn't know what the function of roots on a plant is or where in the world is Carmen San Diego they will be okay because they will get science, history, geography, etc again and again each year...but if they don't know their math facts or how to pronounce words they will struggle forever.  HELLO!!!  Rocket science I tell ya...and here I was rushing through math to make sure we had time for the big experiment in science.  While the experiment is definitely important its not nearly as critical as the 3R's.  I get it now... it just takes me a little while...thats all!!

I had already chunked a bunch of curriculum that just was not working for us.  You can read about that here.  And I just returned 47 billion classics to the library that we never even opened because I couldn't even understand them.  And I switched up our schedule to try to give me more time with Kam, which it did.  Now I have just put the cherry on top.

I give you my version of the workbox system...and let me just say that I have not read the book and the author or anyone for that matter who knows anything about workboxes probably finds me offensive, but this is what works for us and my $0 remaining in my homeschool budget.

I just stuck magnet strips to the wall {they are holding up so so and will probably have to be switched out for something more permanent}, made these super cute tags, and went crazy with my 47 gagillion 15 cent Walmart folders that I have been buying since July.  

You would not believe how much time this saves us, and how much more we accomplish, and how much more I feel like my kids are learning since I put this system into gear.

Here are some of our "freebie" activites that I can put up for "the other" to do while I work one on one, which leaves me with very few interruptions and more structure to my day...I know Charlotte Mason is cringing in her grave, but I had to yall.  I had to get Karsyn doing something on her own or else I was going to have to enroll Kamryn in an online school if I wanted to give her any kind of education at all. No, this doesn't make Karsyn move any faster, but what it does do is let me visually see what is left on our list which in turn causes me to shut the lesson down and pick back up on it the next day if need be, or at the very least, keeps me on task.  It also allows Karsyn to see the "fun something" that is next on her list which encourages her to stay on task.  It also keeps us from being interrupted by the Speed Racer because she is such a great worker and just moves on to her next task.  I love that kid!!

This is our reading corner...we have ear buds and books on cd as well as the book basket here that they can choose from.  Im trying to include books that are complimentary to what we are studying, but also some that I know they will love. {And please excuse the "jambox" circa 1990...I needed something with a cassette player cuz you know all the good books are on cassette at the library}.

Frog and Toad and The Bernstein Bears are classics right???

This is addition bingo that I made up and have in a little baggie.  If their tag says "flashcards" this is one of the options they can pick from.  Today Karsyn hollered out loud while she was playing all by herself "BINGO".  Too funny!!

These are also a flashcard option...nothing fancy, just index cards that the kids can use to play "addition or subtraction memory" as I like to call it.  Turn all of the cards over face down and match the combination with the answer.  

I will also try to have a few coloring sheets a week that go with what we are learning.  Today's was to color this bird to be "camouflaged" in its natural "habitat".  We are learning all that goodness in science.  It really turned out to be a good re-enforcement and I want to keep that going.

For just a few more specifics, we take a 10 min break {that is another lifesaver that I am just discovering} about an hour and a half in...wherever we are, we just finish that tag and take a pause.  We also stop for lunch around 3 hours in and again we just stop where we are.  Speaking of lunch/quiet time I bought a bunch of quiet time toys, puzzles, and such {ahem, fazoodles} that can only be played with during quiet time and that have brought us all much joy!!  I'm telling yall that after lunch quiet time business is the best thing since sliced bread!!!

So what is slapping yall upside the head now that the school year has kicked off...or is it just me??? 

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