Tag Archives: Homeschooling

From Workboxes to Working Squares – And I’m writing a book?

It’s been a while since I last blogged and I hope that will soon be changing.  There are many new and exciting things that I’d like to share, but first let me update about the workboxes system at my house.

When I found out about workboxes, I was completely obsessed with finding out more and more.  I am sure that I read every blog out there that had anything to do with workboxes.  I bought the ebook from Sue Patrick’s website and read it through.  I went right out and got the boxes and the shoe rack thing to hold them.  I loved the system!  I made a few alterations to the system to make it work for me and my 2 children…but they were awesome!  I told all my friends about it and even posted a few things here on my blog about them.  Oh..and I joined some yahoo groups.

My son (9) loved the workboxes.  It was because of him that I was even looking for something to help us. He had such a distaste for school and I knew I had to make some changes.  The workbox system allowed him to see his whole day at a glance.  He instantly knew what was expected of him and when the school day would be over.  It also forced me to make sure that I was including some fun learning parts to our day and not make things so dry.

My daughter (5) also loved it.  She would go through her boxes like a pro! And boy did she love all the fun independent activities I would find for her boxes. She was very good at following the system and marking her chart and stacking up the “done” boxes.

There were so many aspects to the system that I loved, that some are surprised that I stopped using them.  I think all things are here for a season and my season was just over I guess.  I learned so much from the system that will always be with me as a homeschool mom though.  In the end, space was a big factor.  I needed more bookshelves and it just wouldn’t all fit! But also, no matter how many times I tried to figure something out, the planning was just taking up too much time.  I had to find a better way.

The “better way” for me became something that for now I will call “working squares”.  It spawned from the idea of workboxes but it doesn’t take up any space and it cuts planning down to almost none!

This is how it happened:

While I had the workboxes, I would plan each weekend for the upcoming week.  I would think about how much of each subject needed to be done and what days and what lessons and so on.  Then each weekday night, I would fill the boxes, making changes as needed.  If I hadn’t done my weekend planning, then the school nights were very long as I planned out the lessons and gathered the supplies.  And if I didn’t do it the night before….school just never started started late. I tried the file system to hold all the upcoming work and workbooks, which really helped.  But I would still end up not planning falling behind in my planning and do it a day at a time.  I felt like I was just repeating the same task over and over.

I ended up creating an excel sheet with my master schedule for the year.  Not a detailed day-by-day type of thing…just an overview of what a typical week would look like.  It was the start of something new.  The workboxes were moved out of the room to make way for my new bookcases.  (they make great toy organizers by the way).  Instead of boxes to look at, the kids had binders with schedules.  They could still see the whole day and were able to mark off the items as they did them.  No more laminating or velcro to stick. Just good ‘ol paper and pencils.  Instead of having all their items in individual workboxes to pull from, they had ONE bin with all their school books and notebooks.  On their desks were their pencils, crayons, markers, etc… and extra paper.

Through the year, I started to realize that, again, I was just repeating the same task each night….writing out their schedule in their notebook each night.  The only thing that was better was that I wasn’t filling boxes anymore.  So I kept thinking….

I started calling my friends and asking them what they do.  Most of them were in the same place I was…with some sort of plan of action, but not really happy with it.  Why?  Why was it so hard to find a way that would be good for the kids and EASY for us? It’s not that I want it easy all the time, but a little break would be appreciated!

I am now in the process of writing.  (Do I dare say I’m writing a book?) Maybe I’m writing a book…can we just call it a guide or something?  That seems less daunting. I’ve always wanted to write a book guide, so maybe this will be it? It’s been in my head for awhile but kinda of in a jumbled up sort of way.  I try to explain what I want to say or write about, but it never seemed to have a clear direction.  Until last night.  I started writing.

I couldn’t stop.  I wrote for 3 hours straight.  And it was making sense! It ended up taking on a different direction than I had previously thought…but now I know it’s in the right direction…or at least the right direction for now.  

I’m writing a book guide for fellow homeschool moms  like me who feel frustrated about the state of their homeschool.  I hope that it will offer advice, support and even some laughter along the way.  The “working squares” system is still being developed, but it will be in the book guide too…along with other great ways to organize, plan, and attack your homeschool year!

So here is to a new adventure of writing and a new system of organization…oh and a brand new printer (but that’s another story!)


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My Favorite Spelling Program

Okay, so I am exhausted and don’t have the energy to express my love for this program as I should… but let me just say that I am so glad that SPELLING is one thing I don’t have to think about when we start back to school this year. Last year I found All About Spelling and tried it. I figured I didn’t have much to lose since there was a money back guarantee! I LOVED it. I have a son who is a little bit of a struggling reader. He is 8 years old so I couldn’t keep using young phonics programs and frankly it was my constant changing of programs that probably led to his lack of ability in the area! Anyway, I found All About Spelling and liked it because of it’s ability to also teach phonics and help with reading! And boy it did! I have seen a big improvement in his reading since starting the program. We started in Level 2 last year and finished it up by the end of the year. We are now about 3 lessons into level 3 and going strong. He actually LIKES spelling!

So here is a link so you can learn more about it yourself!

And if you are already using All About Spelling….join the awesome users forum! I have learned so much from others there!

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Classical Conversations – Our Year 1 Journey Has Ended

In August we started on a new addition to our “homeschool story”. We became part of Classical Conversations! Actually, I became the director and opened a CC in my area. It started with a very difficult beginning (I have to say). Nothing to do with CC, just with logistics trying to get our location started! We had trouble finding a church that was available to use. Then because that took me so long, I didn’t have much time to get families to join! I also needed some experienced home school moms to be “tutors” (class teachers). I found a great group of friends and we all did the training together. Then I lost each one of them due to different reasons. Some went to another group that was closer to their homes (who can blame them). Anyway, it looked like I was starting up with just me and my kids and I was about to throw in the towel…when along came my first family! Then another one, then another! God truly brought me wonderful women and children to join along side me in this new endeavor!

Classical Conversations (CC) is a WONDERFUL home schooling group that meets once a week to model & introduce classical learning methods using 6 main subjects. Each week the kids are introduced to memory work (and let me say, they memorize their work by the time they leave! It takes us moms WAY longer) in Science, History, Geography, Latin, English, Math. We also do a hands-on Science lesson and a hands-on Fine Arts lesson! It is so much fun. I know…you’re asking how memory work can be fun right? Well, it is! CC has given so many tools, examples, and resources, that you can have a blast with the kids! We sing, play games, chant, explore, draw, color, etc…

My kids have walked away from this year with SUCH a huge amount of learning!

We take each week’s memory work and then form lessons around that at home to create our daily work. For example, one week the memory sentence for History was about the Kush (they mined gold along the Nile River). The history sentence they memorize tells them the time period and more. We sing it to a song. Anyway, that week at home for history, we read Story of the World about the Kush. We also did some map work and put up the Kush on our timeline.

A Science fact learned one week was about types of clouds. So at home, I printed off pictures of the types of clouds. We made hand motions for the different types and practiced them. Then we looked outside each day (and now anytime I think of it) and try to identify the types of clouds we see! I have a weather book that I had my son read through too.

The list goes on and on. All I can say is WOW! Without the accountability and hard work that CC has provided, I would’ve never been able to instill this type of long-term learning this year!

Our last week was March 29th and then on Good Friday, we had our Family Night! The kids all got to share what they had learned as a group and as individuals! It was amazing!

If anyone is interested: http://www.ClassicalConversations.com It’s Nationwide!! Check out their schedule because they probably have a parent practicum near you! These are free to any homeschooling parents (or those interested in homeschooling) even if you have no desire to join CC!

So I say: Thank You CC!! And I look forward to another year!

Everyone with their certificates

Just having fun with friends!

Acting out parts of the Ocean Floor!

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Schedules Anyone?

Okay so first off let me say that I’m so glad to NOT be working outside the home anymore! I am NOT a morning person at all! I am a total night owl. It’s 10:00 PM and I feel like I can finally start getting some things done today…this is when my brain starts running a mile a minute!

That being said: Our homeschool “schedule” follows my personal preference for a calm morning! I have read other posts about schedules and routines and have been so impressed with them. They whole family (sometimes with 4 or more children) are up and ready for the day…breakfast is served, school begins with a set order of events, and by lunch most of the “school” stuff is done! That is just so totally beyond my reality! 🙂 I COULD do that if I HAD to…but I’m glad I don’t have to!

I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I’m this way… or if I’ll have to change but as of now our day kinda goes like this:

Wake up when the kids wake me up around 8 or 8:30

Since I’m not really functional for about 45 min. I give them each some milk or juice or a pediasure to drink and to hold them over until breakfast!  We turn on the TV (I know…don’t judge me here) and watch a video (we take turns choosing each day).

Around 9 or 9:30 I make breakfast…usually something very simple: cereal, oatmeal, frozen waffles (whole wheat of course!).

After the video/kids movie and breakfast, I start cleaning up the kitchen (I can’t function with a dirty kitchen and house!) then the family room gets a de-cluttering. I go upstairs and get myself ready for the day (this is usually around 10-10:30ish.

By 11am I make sure that the kids are dressed for the day (cozy clothes if we’re staying home, better clothes if we have plans to leave later)…brush teeth, hair, etc..

Kids are playing in their rooms or together in the family room (I usually make sure the TV is off after breakfast….it used to stay on the background which is a habit that I think I’ve sucessfully broke on all our parts! I even shut the doors on the entertainment center so we don’t even see the TV. It’s really worked! It’s MUCH less of a focal point!

My son will sometimes play some computer games (I’ll be listing our favorites soon!). Sometimes my 2 year old takes her turn on the computer too!

Depending on how tired my daughter is determines when we start our school time. If she’s in a good mood then we’ll head down to the “school room” and she’ll play with blocks or trains or something that I have for her down there while my son and I work on school stuff. If she’s cranky then I’ll wait to get her to sleep and then do school with my son during her nap.

Lunch is determined by nap/school schedules….sometime we have lunch BEFORE her nap and sometimes it’s just a snack.

We do “school” anywhere from 30 min. to 1.5 hours. In Georgia where we live, he’d only be in Kindergarten due to his late Oct. birthday and Kindergarten is NOT mandatory here so I don’t have to have school at all yet “officially”….so for now we keep it simple and condensed to the basics of phonics, writing, and math….with Geography, Science, etc…thrown in on and off.  Next school year I will have to actually turn in my “intent to Homeschool” and be responsible for attendance and 4 hours of “educational activity” each school day. 

After school is rest time for my son (sometimes he falls asleep but usually he just watches a video or plays quietly in his room) If my daughter is still asleep then I get some “me” time or time to catch up on laundry, figure out dinner, etc…

Once my daughter wakes up she’ll eat if she’s hungry (if she’s taken an early nap then she’ll eat when she wakes up) The kids will play together…go outside if it’s nice…or just do their own thing! I’m usually still working on my “chores” till around 5:00 or so.  That’s when I want some PEACE…but it never happens! If the natives are restless I start bath/showers a little early. We pick up their rooms sometimes together. Get PJ’s on. Eat dinner (sometimes my husband is home but usually he’s not home until later). Then they can play in a “calm” manner together or by themselves or we can snuggle up and watch a movie…lately our favorite is the new VEggie Tales: Wonderful Wizard of Ha’s DVD.

Daddy finally gets home around 9 PM and the kids get all hyper when they see him. He plays with them for about 30 min. then we start getting them to bed. If we’re lucky, we have everyone in bed by 10:30 PM.

My husband and I are usually up till midnight.

Okay…so am I totally abnormal???

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