Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Schoolroom

Not Back to School Blog Hop
I'm behind again, but I'm linking up to School Room Week on the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.  We started school this week and it seems as if I've actually gotten our set-up right on the first try this year! 

I was pretty worried about homeschooling more than one child for the first time. For an added level of difficulty, there's a toddler running around too.  I knew we needed to be organized and I think what I've come up with is going to work for us. 

We don't have a dedicated school room, so we do most of our work at the kitchen table.  On the wall, I have put up a cork board and a dry erase magnetic board:
The cork board holds progress charts that came along with our All About Spelling and All About Reading programs.  The girls love these so much, they have requested I make some for our math lessons too.  They really love to put a sticker on the lesson they've just completed and see how much ground they've covered. 

The dry erase board has been a key part of keeping me sane during the day.  Each night, I write all the lessons each girl will do the following day.  As we complete the lesson, we erase them off the board.  This has been so important.  When Secora is occupied or down for a nap, it's very easy to glance at the board and see what is left to be done.  For the lessons Sierra does independently, I don't have to remind her quite as much to get them done, she can look at the board and know she still needs to do.  When I do have to remind her, I have it right in front of me, not hidden in a binder.  That makes it easier for me to remember it needs to be done.

 The other half of the board is blank right now, but soon it will be a chore board.  One of the frustrating things about the Accountable Kids program is that the chore cards are all stacked up.  The program is set up for kids to have morning, afternoon and evening chores.  We don't really care when the kids do their chores though, we just want them done sometime during the day.  Our plan is to put magnets on the back of the cards and put them on the board each evening.  When the girls wake up, they will be able to see at a glance what they need to do and work on them as they have time. No more digging through the cards or forgetting things because they're hidden behind other chores.
At the end of the table, we've put up a pegboard to hold commonly used supplies:
I have the supplies organizer I made out of old jeans holding pencils, scissors, glue, rulers and crayons.  The silver file organizer was purchased at Target.  There are three sections, one for each kid and one for me.  The girls each picked a color and I have 5 vinyl pocket folders in their color.  On the weekend, I get out all of the papers they will need for the week.  There is a folder to hold their papers for each day of the week.  Each night, I put their folder for the next day in the organizer so it's ready to grab.  Completed papers go in my section and after I grade them, I put them in my folder (also in that section) to be filed in our permanent records at the end of the week.

The red baskets at the top hold were 4 for $3 at Target.  They hold things like colored pencils and markers.  I can take a basket down and put it on the table when it's needed, then hang it up out of the way when we're done. 

And you'll notice the hairbrush.  That was pure frustration.  We haven't been able to get them to put their brushes back in their bathroom when they're done using them, so we've tried having them hang them up on the board instead.  As you can see, there's only one there, so that's not working either.  You win some, you lose some.

Across from the table, we have built in shelves:
One shelf is full of daily use homeschool supplies.  There are teacher books that are needed on a daily basis and a binder full of about 6-7 weeks worth of worksheets.  Another binder holds the folders for the current week's work.  The small box towards the left holds our All About Spelling and Reading cards.  The bigger box in the middle holds all of the math manipulatives.  There's a tape dispenser, stapler and hole punch stuffed in there.  The small plastic drawers on the right hold my supplies that the girls don't use.  On top is a random roll of duct tape and a tortilla warmer that has salt in it for Sedona to practice her handwriting (she can "write" in the salt with her finger before we move on to writing on paper, we're trying to improve her mechanics).  I definitely need a little more organization here, hoping to work on that this weekend. 

The books we aren't using on a regular basis are in another room on our regular bookshelves.  We also have a keyboard and an old computer set up in another room.  Practicing music and Spanish both require making a fair bit of noise, so it's nice to have those in a separate place so they aren't disruptive to whoever is doing quieter work. 

I do also have a magnetic calendar that I just haven't had Josh hang up yet.  Sedona is in the process of learning about calendars, so she will have the task of putting up the number for each date in the morning and reviewing days of the week. 

Near the bookshelf, we have two school desks.  The orange one has been around my parent's house since I was a kid.  The other one was generously gifted to us by a friend and repainted by my dad.  These aren't entirely necessary, but are nice to have.  Secora will bug the girls at the table sometimes, pulling on their papers and trying to write in their books.  For some reason, she leaves them alone at the school desks.  They also think they're neat to sit at.

Last, but most definitely not least, there is a small table in the corner that holds playdoh supplies and on the kitchen table there is an old playdoh container filled with crayons.  We also stack the worksheets we don't need to keep in the center of the table.  Secora can easily play with playdoh or draw on the back of papers without us needing to get anything out for her.  She's still a toddler, but it buys us 10 or 15 minutes of uninterrupted time here and there. 

That's our schoolroom!!  The first 2 years, I had to adjust our set-up as the year went on, but I think this year we've finally figured it out.  Hopefully this works for us through the elementary years!

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