As you read yesterday, we figured out how to adjust our living style to make room for three more children. But what about homeschooling??? I was used to teaching only one child, and she had my full attention at all times. Now I had to learn how to teach 2 children (both on slightly different levels), work with a toddler, and keep a baby happy. After taking a week off last week, I think we have found some ideas that work for us! The past two school days have been wonderful. Although they are not perfect, we get much more done in less time and everyone seems happy!
My first area of change was to adjust our workbox system. I re-read Sue Patrick’s book and decided to follow her system a little more strictly. We added in schedule strips (below) to help the girls be more accountable for their own work. They know what they should be doing at all times, and can move on to the next task without me making them. They love seeing the cards disappear off of their strips and look forward to the next box.
We still use our workbox carts. When they finish a box, they take the number off of the schedule strip and add it to the workbox number. In the picture, you can see number one has both, while number two just has the workbox number. They can look and see which ones are complete by seeing which numbers have two cards.
I stagger the contents of the workboxes so that one is working with me and the others are doing independent work. Sue Patrick’s system is supposed to get the children working independently. While I see the need for this, I love teaching and I love having one-on-one time with each child. However, I do like that they do work on some things independently while I am helping someone else. I also added centers for the children to do. These have been a big hit, and keep them all busy while minimizing the mess they make. I limit the activities to 4, and they know that they are only allowed to play with what is out. Yesterday, we had Kitchen, Froggie Feeding Fun game, those beads you put on a plastic design and iron together (I have no idea what they are called, but we LOVE these), and Lincoln Logs. Before centers, they would tear apart my house playing with whatever they wanted without cleaning up:(
Our quiet time area has been re-vamped, as well. TV is not allowed anymore, and I get out our book bin, coloring books, and crayons. Talking is not allowed, and they can either use the supplies provided or lay down and take a nap.
One more thing that has helped me stay organized and reduce the amount of time I spend searching for materials/worksheets is to use an expandable file folder for each girl to store their materials in. Each pocket holds one days worth of materials. I do lesson plans on the weekend and get all of the sheets they may need for the week the SAME DAY as I do lesson plans. I put the sheets in their correct pocket. Then, when I need to fill boxes the night before, I can easily get to the right materials. Every night (sometimes morning) used to be a scramble to get everything together, but now I simply reach and fill:)
Implementing these changes has really helped me stay ahead of the game and keep organized. My days do not seem as hectic and I am not as exhausted as I used to be. If you have any questions, or have more ideas to help, please leave a comment! I am always looking for tricks to make life (and school) easier:)