Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some Reflections on Home Schooling & Home Organizaiton~

Is it just me or does it seem this time of they year always brings on new ideas for organizing and re-doing things.I have been thinking more and more about organizing things. I can't seem to function correctly when things are all over the place. (stacks of books here and there or piled dishes and such) In having done some reading over this I have come to the conclusion that keeping things somewhat organized and orderly reflects how we might tend to feel inside~ for me keeping my environment fairly functional with "things in its place" helps me to feel less overwhelmed and ready to tackle a project or another day of studies etc...

It's Sunday morning, and as I sit here quietly I do what most people do at times, when it is quiet, I begin to think about all the things I need to do~ I have a long list of things to do actually as I am sure most people do. So I was sitting here thinking what might be the best way to prioritize and better keep things organized so I can clearly see what I "need" to do and what I "ought" to do ~ something further that will help keep me better on track as we move through our school year and Fall/Winter months.

Before I explain I need to back up a bit and share what has worked for me for quite some time and then my new idea will make much more sense.
If you have been a reader here at Learners at Home for a bit of time you might remember me mentioning how I use Journals for each child throughout their day and how I jot down things we work on in each subject - not just what we do but trouble areas, like for example in phonics or math etc.. I also add in the margins a bubble as a reminder for me to make a notebooking page to reinforce a new concept or find a website or lapbook fold that will help also. This idea has worked so very well in our house, it is something I really feel I will continue throughout their schooling at home.

It has worked so well that I extended the journaling to having a Home Journal Notebook.  In this notebooking I do the very same thing~ date the top and add anything I have done that I need to document. For example; calls/messages left for doctors and why, programs looking into, call backs I had made to people, orders placed.  Each entry is already dated at the top but I add the person to whom I speak with, their number and any tidbits of information I might want to remember. This has saved me quite a bit of time and energy in finding numbers and names of people, having to remember where we were at on a particular conversation and what might be pending~ its also saved me money when I have ordered things and if they had gotten things wrong I had the persons name, date and information so that it was able to be reconciled for my work~ ( very helpful when running a home business) it is refreshing to find ways to be "on top" of things.
another thought: * I should also mention that in the inside of the notebook cover I list all our doctors numbers along with medical insurance numbers and information and any other information I think I might need on hand when I am on the phone so I don't have to go looking for my wallet or information.  ( items like, school numbers, libraries numbers and account pin numbers, etc.. ) *

So as I sat here I knew I needed to write out another "to do list" for the new month.( I try and write one out for the month, this way it gives me more time to get things accomplished and I don't feel pushed to get it all in over the week.)

I decided to instead of using another piece of paper for my "to do's" that I have to go looking for or find on my clipboard - instead I would use the left side of my home journal for my to do's. This could include calls to make, errands to do etc... and I will keep this "to do " just for household things, not my business or my homeschooling work.

I think this will be a bit more handy and I will have everything in "one spot" instead of looking all over for things.

Here are some other ideas I decided on:
Homeschooling organization:

1. Keep my "to do" list on my personal laptop computer, either by using a task list or by using post it notes or maybe even a document placed on my desk top for me to pull up since much of my homeschooling work is on the computer or my computer is very needed while working/planning for homeschooling and working/assisting my groups. * update~ I started this today and found that my laptops sticky notes are perfect for doing this. I just write brief quicky notes and can add links if I need to, very handy. *

2.  Recently my friend Kris (from At Home Science Group) told me about a collaborative platform whereby you can load files online and archive them and retrieve them from all your computers in your home or from one that is not at home just by logging in. I have been playing around with this adding our OneNote Notebook pages to this and it is working much better for me than trying to sync up with Sky Drive from Windows Live.
The program I am referring to is called Dropbox, if your interested in checking it out.

3. I also just learned about a free polling resource I can use for my groups. It is called Flist ( link provided) I need sometimes to get information from my group members so that I can find better ways to help them and by learning about this online, free, easy tool I can do just that. This saves alot of email back ups on the groups asking questions etc.. so this really helped save me a bit of time.

4.  Using my new laptop has been helpful since I now have Windows 2007 and it provides "sticky notes" that I can use on my desk top to save link resources to post on my groups. Although I have to admit I am really starting to see me adding so many that now I need to find or change how I use my sticky's.. lol I think I am going a bit overboard with them now.. :O) but they are so fun and easy to use I just love it.

5. One other thing I have done is to clean my shelves off. I am getting rid of programs, books and teaching resources I just don't use and know that others may find them helpful. After many friends telling me about Paperback BookSwap I plan to go ahead and sign up and learn how to use this, since I have heard so many great advantages to using it.
With regards to cleaning off book shelves this also was helpful since I took all of my books and re-sorted them according to topic ( ie., History, Science, Classics, Series...etc..) each shelf is for a different topic and then within the topic ( for example for history I lined the books up chronologically ( ie;, World History would have Egypt first, then Romans, Greeks, etc.. and the same for American History -) I added fiction and non-fiction with in these topics so that it gives a more collaborative effort for teaching and stops me from having to look all over for a specific book to read aloud.. it has worked well.
I did the same for our Science separating by topics and the science: ( Physical Science, Life Science etc..) I also included both fiction and non-fiction books so anything that pertains to for example the human body is all going to be together.

6.  Because this is my first year primarily doing science on our own, I have started a science outline. I did try using a teacher lesson planner but as I started school with my younger learner this July I realized this was just not  me and not going to work for us.. only because some days we will go further in an area and not hit another thing and so we will be either ahead or behind and I found it to be way to confining for us. YUCK, lol so I decided on an outline which I will be sharing once I have them finished. The outline includes collaborative approach to both delight directed and also traditional study, sounds crazy but when you see it you will understand perfectly. Spine books are first listed for topics of study, then books of their choice listed for further reading ( ie, living books etc..) then Lapbook activities ( we pick and choose through these perhaps not always doing a whole lapbook) and Notebooking pages made or found with links, internet resources listed as well.  Everything there for me to pull up and check off and dig in. :) ( these all done on Microsoft's OneNote~ an interactive notebook.
* NOTE- new this year our teen will be doing "all" his written narrations within his own interactive OneNote Notebook for all topics of study. At the end of the week we will just save and print off his work to create a binder/portfolio for the end of the year. OneNote can be great for this because graphics and drawing can be added with links etc..

Home Organization:

1. Besides the shift in where I will be using my To Do list, I decided to take on Fall Cleaning this year room by room. ( this past Spring I was unable to do much cleaning due to my recuperating from my surgery I had over the winter months) As I work through each room I plan to make a list of things I might think of, or things I might need for that particular room. (ie., new curtains, a new pot/pan that I needed to purge, baskets for more order in our linen closet, lists of medicines for the winter months etc..) this I will add as a post on the frig so that I can pull it off when I am heading out to do errands and try and pick up these things as I need them.
** Fall Cleaning in our home looks somewhat like this. Room by Room as I said~ ( except I decided since having SO many windows - I have six just in my living/dining room ~ lol to do all Windows and Blinds first.  I then tackle  Woodwork first, Furniture, Appliances, Closets, Drawers, Desks, then finally floors, so inside and out of that room all has been cleaned, sorted and purged. **

2. Another idea I came up with this winter while having much time to just sit and try and heal, was in thinking about my children and things I wished for them and things I wanted to have for them as I see them getting older. One thing that stuck out with me being in the hospital for two weeks was food, lol I love to cook and all four of my boys, well as you can imagine, LOVE to eat! no surprise there right?
Well, having a mum who likes to cook helps and can make for very picky eaters, the boys tend to have many favorites to match their individual personalities so I decided to purchase some small 5x7 photo books. The ones I found and liked the best were at Walmart for approximately 5.00 each. I chose a different color for each boy to match their favorite colors and personality and am going to be hand writing the recipes that are their favorites and some that are a tradition in our home.
I think they will just love it and will be a wonderful keepsake of their mum, when I no longer can be there to make their favorites any longer~ Each photo aulbum has a picture that can be placed in the front and I hope to find a decent picture of myself to place on top just to add an even more personal touch for my wonderful men~ :)

3. Over the next several weeks of September I am planning on trying a few things to help me find a balance between home, homeschooling and work. Yes, I do work from home and hope to share more in my journey of going back to my first love, painting/art and finding that balance between work, family and teaching our children at home. Should be interesting so I shall keep you posted for sure ~

Hope some of my ideas helps to encourage you in your own efforts to become organized ~

Happy Organizing~ !

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