Saturday, August 24, 2013

30 Days into school year 2013 to 2014


WE MADE IT!!!!


Yep, 30 Days into our school year and I've got to give an update. I hope to use this as kind of a school diary for my kids. Just in case the forget all of this great adventure we've gone on.

CHALLENGES STARTING THIS YEAR

To start we had some major hurdles to overcome. Niether one of my youngest 2 kids were self motivated learners. Both had challenges with Public and Private education. So, I created a list of things I wanted us to work on during our homeschooling time.

- Speed Racer's anxiousy and dislike of school.
- Tiger Lilly's lack of enthusiam for self directed learning
- Speed Racer's temper tantrums (although he didn't have them at home, he sure had plenty at school. and we were concerned that this bad behaviour would start at home when we merged home (safe environment to school-hostile environment).
- Deficiencies. Both kids had areas in Math and Science that they needed serious help in recovering or gaining skills. Yet, I didn't want to bring them all the way back to square one when they excelled in 80% of the facts but only needed Remedial help in 20% of the areas.

SOLUTIONS TESTED

So, to begin our first year I came up with solutions to the above challenges. I've tried them for the first 30 days of school and have tweaked them some to the point where it matured with the students.

- Anxious Behavior.

We use a CALM DOWN LIST (Link To It Here) that we recite before school starts, whenever I see a temper tantrum brewing, or when Speed Racer gets in trouble. *This is a KEEPER*

Timed breaks and goals. We use a timer for snack breaks, homework time, quiz time and even class time. *This is a KEEPER*

Stress Ball or Small Dry Erase Board for drawing or note taking. The kids use the stress ball when they want to do something with their hands but have to stay tuned into their DVD lesson. The small dry erase board they use to draw when they are in Bible but they have to draw a theme based on the topic. *This is a KEEPER*

- Enthusiam for Learning.

Interactive tools as 'Labs' to give different perspective on learning. We tried Time4Learning first. Mainly we used it for Math Lab, but then started poking around in other subjects just for the kids to 'play a game' which is really a learning tool. *This CHANGED* The kids enjoyed it but felt like there wasn't enough order to the lessons for them to do independently.

More directed curriculum tools. We used Teaching Textbooks to help build up areas in math that were lacking. This was a more direct approach and was totally student led. *This is a KEEPER*

Electives of choice. We allowed the kids to pick their electives themselves with the agreement that they would stick with it for at least 60 days (1 quarter). *This is a KEEPER*

- Behavior and Tantrums

The Calm Down List, involved 10 things Speed Racer could do to release his anger in a respectful manner. Read daily. Recited just as an issue is starting to arise. He has the list memorized and WOW, this has worked out as an amazing resource. I came up with this idea totally on my own, and I'm glad I did. He no longer has any tantrums. When he's starting to get 'bored' or irritated, he ask for a 5 minute break. We set the timer and he plays with our dog, watches TV or gets a quick snack. Then he's back on task. No anger issues now. Not even outside the home. We will keep this EVERY year just in case he forgets, lol! My husband even says he uses the list. Go figure. *This is a KEEPER*

Stress Ball. This has been iffy. Sometimes the ball becomes a distraction. So...I took it away. Slowly. It was a good start but not a good long term solution. *This CHANGED*

- Fixing Deficient Areas in Education.

Time4Learning was supposed to be a good fit for this. But for some reason the kids just didn't catch on. It's a great program, but it didn't work well for us. Mainly because the kids said too many subjects were available to them which made it seem like more work. So we dropped it.   *This CHANGED*

Teaching Textbooks. This was a major hit. We turned this extra learning into *MATH LAB* that the kids do for 30-40 minutes using the Teaching Textbook software. They loved this. Since it's so different than their core math curriculum this was a perfect solution. In addition Math was the only area where they needed the most remedial help. Writing is another but I plan on tackling that one next year since the Time4Learning didn't work out as well.   *This is a KEEPER*

SCHEDULING FEEDBACK

Well we started with a 5 day school week with 3-4.5 hours of school. After some play we decided that a 4 Day school week would be great and that the kids would use their 'Friday, makeup day' to do homework or makeup assignments so they could have their weekends completely free.

So, starting in October we will have a complete 4 week school year.

Also, we had to cut back on some of our electives because the kids said they don't want to be overrun with too many activities O_o so we didn't sign up for the Bowling League, Hip Hop Dance Team, or Jujitsu this year.

But we added on a Co-op Art class (because the kids want to meet other homeschoolers), Tween monthly meetings at our Co-op, and Field Trips to 1 time a month starting in September.

TEACHERS

Our original plan for teachers were Mom, Dad and Big Sis. Well Big Sis won't be able to help as she will have a full course load. We ditched the Nanny idea to save money and I found a daycare provider who takes Homeschool kids and only cost 30% of what a private part-time nanny would've cost. So the list of teachers are Day Care Provider 5% (who does curriculum with kids who have a boxed curriculum), Mom 60%, Dad 20% and Co-op 5%.

CURRICULUM CHANGES

Well I realized that using Abeka DVD is a great timesaver for me, but I didn't know if the kids would stay onboard with it.

They prefer Abeka DVD academy compared to all the other curriculums they've tried out. My husband and I love it because it's easy for both of us to administer.

The kids love it because they like the classroom feel and knowing what lesson they are on. This shocked me but they don't like being the only 'student' the online teacher is talking to.

We added Teaching Textbooks and it's definately a keeper. Also Youth Digital Game Design 1 was an elective my daughter fell in love with and we ordered Game Design 2 for her to complete for the year.

Typing Web is a free typing class and it's working for us. My daughter says it's boring, but she'll keep at it. I may try to find one that's more fun.

Yearbook. We decided we wanted to do a yearbook for the kids. So my daughter is taking this task on and we are happy we added it. We are collecting the photos and using Shutterfly.com to put the book together.

Class T-shirts. I'm adding this because I thought it would be fun when we go to field trips and other events.

ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGES

We are using the Workbox System. The first few weeks I followed it specifically by filling the workboxes every night. Having only the number of the box on the box and giving the kids a daily schedule.

This was too much work. So...it changed. I only fill boxes now on Sunday's. I do a weekly schedule for the kids. And, I put the subject on each box with the number.

SO HOW's YOUR SCHOOL YEAR CHANGED?

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog today and commenting. Good luck with your new school year. Looks like you got it all under control.
    Blessings
    Diane

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  2. I like the idea of a calm down list. My youngest could really use a tool like this. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Stopping over from Weekly Wrap up! I love the calm down list idea, I may implement it this year. Our biggest change this year was leaving HOD and going "on our own". It's been fun though!

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  4. Thanks everyone for dropping in. I loved visiting your blog. The Calm Down list worked wonders :-D

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  5. Sounds like a great 30 first days! I like that you picked a short list of things to really focus on this year. Goals like that can certainly help keep you on focused on the forest instead of the trees!

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  6. I love the idea of a calm down list. I am going to have to come up with one of those. Maybe you want to share yours here for our benefit? :)

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  7. Thanks Amy for dropping in and also letting me know to show the liss :-D Here's the link to the previous post where I explain the list, http://homeschoolandwork.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-calm-down-list.html

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