Archive for August, 2012


School Table Before Workboxes (and that’s the part I’m willing to show in public)

We’ve been homeschooling for entire calendar year. Wednesday (22nd of Aug) is our official anniversary.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with the most, outside of my back, is getting anything else done at all besides school. When I’m down with my back the number of things besides school getting accomplished falls to zero. Times like now, when I’m sort of up, but waiting on the referral for physical therapy, and trying to accomplish things without rehurting (yes, that is a word! I have LIVED it.) myself, I get very little done outside of school. Dinner gets made. The occasional load of laundry gets done. A few things get picked up here and there. Some cat hair gets swept. I may take a shower. The kids appoints are met. That’s about it.

I, mostly, “do school” and plan to “do school”. (Again, this is a legitimate action verb and direct object, just ask Chi.) Those things listed above fill in the spaces along with back icing and laying (I am the most productive person EVER). Even though I spend most of my time on school or preparing for school, we rarely get through every subject every day. If I work with each kid for three hours, I’m teaching for 9 hours and that does not account for preparation. Three hours of school for a kid is GREAT! But 9 hours of school for me isn’t so much. I don’t mind, really, but I wish we were more organized, more efficient.

Enter Workboxes. Workboxing is a system designed by homeschooling mom, Sue Patrick. It is brilliant. If you google “workbox system” you will find all kinds of people who have adapted this to their homeschooling. There are photos and ideas. It’s excellent.

Took a while, but finally all parts are together and put where they go. Ready for school!

Chi’s workboxes.

The idea of the workbox system is to divide your child’s school day up into twelve, easy to swallow, portions that include new material and review. The boxes should be diverse in nature so that your child does not get bored with some easy tasks and a few challenging ones. There should be many tasks that require your child to work alone and a few that require work with Mom (or Dad, you know, whoever is doing the teaching). Thus, teaching your homeschooled children independence in their school work, which is something that can be difficult to do when the one on one time can be pretty constant.

The over all concept is a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

Here is our school table after the workboxes are filled. There’s room to work!

We took the week off school so that I could get this thing implemented. The work up front is pretty intensive, and on the whole, won’t really cut down my school prep time, but the actual school time will be slashed dramatically. Also, this system will keep us better organized and on task. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going and what my thoughts are as we go along.

With all the “back to school” things everywhere, it’s funny how implementing this workboxing thing is like the mark of a new school year for us.

edit: I’ve found in the few days since implementing the workbox system that if I plan ahead, the daily prep takes about twenty minutes. MUCH better than before. A surprising, but welcome, development. And with all three breaks, the kids take about three and a half hours to get through all their subjects. In September we will start rotating history and science with the social studies we’re doing now. Pynni wasn’t too thrilled with the length of time working at first, but she’s come around now that she doesn’t have me looking over her shoulder for her entire school day. Chi took a day or so to acclimate and really struggled with the change, initially, but I expected that to be the case, even considering all the prep work I did with him. Pieces is Pieces and school is his mission while he’s doing it, whatever form that takes.

Clothespins and Acrylic Paint

Chore pins.

I’ve been working at getting my kids to do more around the house with more regularity. This summer I taught all three of them to sweep the floor, mop the floor (with a swiffer), dust (dry feather dusting), vacuum, empty the dishwasher, rinse off their plates, wipe the table, clean the toilets (both wipe the outside and scrub the bowl), clean the bathroom sinks, clean the bathroom vanities, change the laundry around, put away their clean clothes, and disinfect all hard surfaces like light switches and doorknobs.

They do a pretty good job, outside of not moving anything around when they wipe down a surface and using an entire bottle of toilet bowl cleaner on three toilets. In one day. They put things in odd places when they empty the dishwasher and they prefer to sweep the floor with the dustpan broom rather than use the actual broom sized broom. Whatever.

Also, Pieces is learning to wash himself and Pynni is washing her own hair, which includes the application and subsequent rinsing of, conditioner. To varying degrees of success.

These things were prompted by two things. First, my back has been all sorts of trouble for me this summer and has ruined a multitude of plans I’d made for our summer days and vacations. That being the case, I can’t really bend over to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer and pushing a mop around is just not going to happen. Somehow, I have to take the pressure off my husband from having to do his job/responsibilities plus all of mine minus the schooling. I needed to relieve the guilt and frustration from my shoulders because of my inability to keep up with any housework whatsoever.

Yes, that says “police office”. It means get your crap out of the office and put all things where they go. My kids get it.

Enter the chores. They learned and they do without complaining, but I have been having to remember what needs doing and whose turn it is to do it. I read a blog post by Marie Rippel of All About Learning Press that gave me an idea. And I totally STOLE it and RAN! Woo!

Weekly chores. One per day per kid.

I got the foam door knob hangers, but decided to hang them on the wall by the kitchen so I can monitor them easier. Also, I decided that many chores only need to be done once a week so I made a list of chores that are clipped to the green hanger. One for each kid for 6 days a week. They do one per day. Easy peasy.

They LOVE this. Probably because it’s new, but they have been staying on top of their chores. And I can walk by and see that Chi hasn’t wiped the table today and I can glance at the table and see that it needs wiping. “Chi, please come wipe the table!” Done.

So far so good and much less stress and things stay picked up and at least wiped and dusted if not completely, thoroughly clean. It’s a start.

ps. I’m going tomorrow to get a referral to a PT. Then I will be starting PT again. I HATE PT, but it worked out so well the last time, I’m not going to put it off.

To Infinity and Beyond!

Kip, Chi, Mae, Abshie, Pynni, Timmus, Pieces

I spent last week at my parents’ house with my kids and their cousins. Seven kids all told. All 10 and younger. It was loud, chaotic, and amazing!

My mother took the older kids to an amusement/water park on Wednesday and I kept the two Littles. We ran some errands and I just listened to their conversations in the backseat. Here’s one.

Pieces and Timmus

Timmus and Pieces, counting by ones: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven….twenty-one…..forty-seven….eighty-eight…one hundred…

On they went counting, by ones, until:

Timmus and Pieces: One hundred and twenty-eight, one hundred and twenty-nine, one hundred and thirty!

Timmus: WAIT! WHEN DID I LEARN TO COUNT TO ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY?!? I used to only be able to count to one hundred and twenty-five!

Me:  If you know how to count to one hundred, you can count to any number.

Pieces: To infinity and beyond!

That thing where you ask a question and the person, who’s supposed to be knowledgable about such things, asks you a question back. One that’s already answered in the question you posited? You know? Right, well.

I went to Radio Shack because I needed more motors and more battery packs and more alligator clip wire leads than I had originally purchased for the Robots Lab I’m doing with the kids tomorrow.

**Note** My original plan included my three kids, but I’m now doing the lab with 7 kids that include my nieces and nephews.

So I go in the store and I’m the only customer (this is not surprising to me for some reason) so I get all the one on one attention I can handle.

Sales person: Can I help you?

Me: Sure. I need 3V motors, battery packs and alligator clip wire leads.

SP: Oh, sure. Here. What was that again?

Me: 3V motors.

SP: How many volts?

Me: Uh. 3.

Okay, so maybe he thought I was asking for three Vee Motors, but I’m not really willing to give him the benefit of the doubt cause I’m mean like that and have expectations.

Also? They only had one.

As he was telling me they didn’t sell alligator clip wire leads, and I was pointing them out on the shelf, I commented that, at this rate, I was going to have to clean out the Greater Louisville Metro Area of 3V motors and battery packs because I needed 14 motors and 19 battery packs. He laughed. I asked, “Where are the other Radio Shacks nearby?” He said, “Oh, you weren’t kidding.”

Heh. Yeah. NO.

Timmus: I, also, have my cwocks. (crocs)

Pieces: Cwocks?

Timmus: No, cwocks.

Pieces: …cwocks?

Timmus: No. Not cwocks. Cwocks!

Pieces: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

(They crack me up.)