21 November 2013

My Home Management Binder Project #1

I am a paper packrat! It's kind of hard not to be when you homeschool. There are papers to be copied, papers to be completed, papers to be corrected, papers to be corralled... Papers, papers, everywhere!

While researching something school-related, I stumbled across the site for Mom's Tool Belt. After reading through her blog, I realized that a large binder to hold everything related to the day-to-day operation of my home just had to be my next project! So, I started doing lots of googling of terms like "household binder," "home management binder," and "household notebook." There are tons of blog posts out there on the subject! Lot of great freebies, too!

The Mom's Tool Belt option has a price tag of $24.95, which gives you a lifetime membership. Translation: Pay $24.95, get free downloads any time she offers a new product. I signed up for a free sample, and with the download came a coupon discount of $5. I realized that I really liked a lot of the options that Mom's Tool Belt had to offer, so after a week of research I decided to make the purchase.

My home management binder is still a work in progress, and probably will be for some time as I figure out what works and what doesn't, but it has a nice cover and I'm beginning to figure out which sections I want it to contain. So far I have financial, homemaking, and meals & recipes sections. I have also placed a few weekly planner sheets at the front of the binder to give them a trial run. So far, the format seems to work for me. I also want to include sections for our big move that's coming up in a few months and for the current house once it becomes our rental property. Everything I have included to this point has come from Mom's Tool Belt, but I have also found several freebies that may prove useful to my project.

There were several options and combinations for covers, and I think I made the right choice with this one. I really, really love it!

I'm using small Post-Its for the tabs until I'm ready to print the permanent ones.  

A great worksheet that will be perfect for keeping track of things like checking the batteries in the smoke detectors,  putting rinse agent in the dishwasher, and replacing furnace filters.

I tweaked the .xls file for this to add extra lines under the meals section to include snacks.

In the meantime, I also found a free blog planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler. It was so colorful and beautiful that I downloaded it, printed it up, and took it to Office Depot to have it bound. I paid less than $5 to have it spiral bound with the addition of a back cover and a clear front cover. Isn't it beautiful? (It would be even more beautiful if I hadn't been having difficulty getting a great shot!)

As you can see, I have already had to make adjustments to my blog scheduling!

Well there you have it... the beginning of my new home management binder. Do you have a household notebook to keep things in order? If so, which sections are the most useful to you?

Please be sure to check out part two of my binder project!

05 November 2013

Letting the Kids Take Over

Well, we are on our six-week break one-week break following our second six-week period of school. (Twelve weeks down!!! Yay!!!) I think we were all ready for this one! Overall, I think it was a productive period.

I didn't get a lot of resistance about school, except in the IEW that I started with H. And that wasn't really resistance--it was more just that she's not thrilled about it. We are still just doing the key word outlines. She says it doesn't make sense to her, so I'm taking it really slow. I'm also trying to find the perfect spelling program for her, as she is not a confident speller and has never liked imaginative spelling. She would rather just not write than try to guess how a word is spelled.

The assignment books have been great at giving the girls a visual of what needs to be done. And in the few instances where we decided to move something to a different day, it was nice to not have to copy it over again. However, I did find myself wanting to tweak the organization just a tad.

Last week, I was blessed to have been able to attend a meeting where Joanne Calderwood was the guest speaker. She talked about how she prepares her children to be independent students as soon as they are ready. She sits down with them at the beginning of the school year with a stack of books. She guides them through the process of figuring out how many lessons have to be done before the end of the year, then by the halfway point, then by quarter. She allows them to come up with a schedule that will help them achieve their goals. They are given planners, which they use to keep track of what they have completed. (She also requires mastery of all school work, but that's not what my current focus is! There may be another post about that.)

While my students are not quite there yet, I do see the many benefits of passing the proverbial reins to them. Through much prayer, thought, and discussion with the girls, we have come up with what I think will be the first step in being able to make that happen. Instead of handing them their assignment books on a daily basis, on Monday I'm going to provide them with something (probably a file folder) containing all of their assignments for the week. We will still use the Post-It notes and the assignment book, as that system is working extremely well, but they will just move the assignment from the file folder to the assignment book after they complete it.

Not only will they be able to say, "I'm in a math mood today, I'm going to do three lessons," but they will also begin working on valuable time management skills and taking some ownership over their schedule and their school work.

H already sees one of the perks of this system: She wants to get all of the stuff she doesn't like done first, so that she can do the fun stuff for the rest of the week.

I think it might be a little difficult for me not to micromanage at first, but isn't the goal of homeschooling to raise independent learners?

What are your thoughts on letting your children take more control over their learning? Do you let them have a say in how things are done?