Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Start

UPDATED WITH WORKBOX PICS Sat., Sept. 12, 2009 We have now had six WEEKS of school, rather than the six days of this original post. We have also met with our homeschool support group for the first time. We're still going strong!!

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Here at Wonderwood Academy, we have had, as of this morning, six and a half days of the 180 minimum required by the state of California for the 2009-2010 school year. It has been a good start to the year. We actually started on Monday, the 3rd, and had VERY full (details to follow) school days Monday through Wednesday. Life intervened on Thursday (including a flat tire on our way to pick up a box of frozen blueberries arriving by special order from Oregon), so we turned it into a half school day. Mrs. Woody needed Friday to review and revise, so we quickly scheduled a student-free day. After a Saturday filled with House Blessing and weekly organizing, and a busy Sunday schedule (which included a talk given in Primary by the Doodle), we have again this week, as we did last week, had VERY full school days Monday through Wednesday.

Our VERY full school days have come about for three reasons that we can identify. First, the girls are growing up and need a more rigorous academic schedule. Second, we have been told that the first couple of weeks of A New World of Adventures curriculum has longer days than are usual. Third, we have implemented a modified version of Sue Patrick's Workbox System, and the structure gives us the ability to accomplish MUCH ("Children using this system stay more focused and are more successful in learning and completing their school work independently.") while making sure we don't lose the fun in learning that means so much to us. ("It will then be easier to set up a school day of curriculum, variety and fun...")

Our subjects this year include, in alphabetical order (at varying grade levels from 5th to 12th):
Art Appreciation - including artist studies
Basic Drawing
California History
Daily Devotional
Early American History
Geography & Map Skills
Home Economics
Language Arts - reading, narration, copywork, spelling, grammar, writing, vocabulary
Library & Research Skills
Logical Thinking
Music Appreciation - including composer studies
Science - currently Marine Biology, later we'll add Meteorology and Physics
Spanish - Level 1
Typing (on the computer)

Whew! No wonder our days are long! (And we haven't added in our local homeschool support group, which usually meets once a week, Wednesday afternoons beginning in September.) Now, we don't do all of these subjects every day, but some of them we do. I am still reviewing and revising our schedule/s nearly every night as I prepare to fill the girls' SmartFiles, which is what we choose to call our workbox system. Rather than the many actual boxes required for use in the original system, we use some very cool hanging file boxes that we found at Walmart for less than $10 each.

We use three fileboxes, one for each girl, and one for me.

These are the coolest! The flip-up lid has these great compartments. We use the compartment in the upper left corner to store task cards either not being used that day or cards for tasks/activities that have been completed. There are supposed to be scissors in there, too, but Doodle is a grand paper crafter, and her scissors are often in use!

Besides the files, another vital component of the system is a schedule grid. We don't do it exactly as the original Workbox System, but that's one of the beauties of homeschooling. The girls each have their own daily schedule grid. These show at a quick glance what they will be doing in a single school day. When I get our task cards finished, I'll post a picture of what the grids look like. We ARE using them now, but they're not in their final form. As we work the system, we are learning what works best for us and making modifications along the way. Basically, the grids include cards for things that we do together and that are the same from day to day, and they also include numbers that correspond to file folders that contain assignments that are individualized for each of our (two) students. As a task is completed, it is removed from the grid and placed in a tray contained in the lid of the filebox. You can easily see what you've done and how much is still to be accomplished. Very cool.

The grids are made from two pieces of cardstock, colors chosen by the girls, laminated, and then hinged together with clear packing tape. The girls get them out of their fileboxes in the morning and set them up on our mantel, where we can ALL see them. It's easy to see in the pictures when we're working together and when the girls are on their own. You can also see how I staggered their subjects so that, for example, they don't both need the computer at the same time. Also note, the girls take turns making lunch. In these pics, it's Jelly's turn to make lunch and Doodle's card just says "Break." I really need one that specifies a lunch break, but oh, well.

What's REALLY cool is that not once at the end of these extra-long days has either of our students complained. They are having a GRAND time learning. (See this post for evidence!)

It's their teacher that isn't handling the long days quite so well. Don't get me wrong... I'm LOVING that they are loving "school." I just need to find the balance that will allow me to get some other things done.

We'll get there. We always do.

In the mean time, we're enjoying the adventure.

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At Mon Sep 14, 11:17:00 PM PDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of using cardstock and putting on the mantel where all can see. I think that would work better for us. My dd-5 has high-functioning Autism/Aspergers, and ds-7 and dd-17 like the workboxes as well. Thanks for sharing!



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