Monday, June 29, 2009

Atmosphere, Part II

Well, I've been doing all this reading about a couple of things in the homeschooling internet world. These two things are 1) workboxes and 2)Reggio Emilia project-oriented learning. I've been going to these blogs to learn about them (I've just been lurking at them). Camp Creek, Amongst Lovely Things, and Our Hearts' Haven. I've learned about them all via Willa's blog which is my very favorite blog ever!!!

Anyway, I don't quite get workboxes. I do see the advantage of making everything visual to remind us all (me and the kids) to do things we need to do. However, the system strikes me as very cumbersome! To have all those boxes for all those different subjects? Where do you store the stuff you put into the boxes on various days? Doesn't it take a lot to load up those boxes for several children? Don't they junk up your house? Won't the little kids get into them and rearrange everything? My kids would never, ever want to do them in the order that they are presented. I would have a major problem just with that concept. We'd lose the little velcro numbers, first day for sure!

But I do like the idea of having something visual there to remind you of what to do. We often lose our planners under stacks of books or papers. And that throws us off. And often some of the work will get done and then the planner will get put aside and we won't remember to finish stuff unless of course it is something that needs doing by the next by some outside authority, like Latin homework for Latin class, or math for the math tutor or piano practice for the piano lesson. We need external motivation around here very often to get us moving and focusing on something.

I saw this work strip idea for somebody whose 12 yo (she thought) would think the workboxes were too babyish. Now I have these long pantry cabinet doors that would be a perfect place to have such a work strip as that. In fact I have 4 cabinet doors that would be perfect and I happen to be educating 4 students (after Hannah leaves for college.) So I did like that idea of listing the different areas of study and then having colored index cards and after completing work in an area of study moving the card to a 'done' slot. I think that would especially help Will because he has a tendency (to put it mildly!!!) to procrastinate and he likes to keep everything in his head about what he needs to do, but the truth is he often forgets one or more vital things. He relies way too much on me or Hannah reminding him to do things. He really needs to mature in this respect. I think having something stuck to a door in a well-traveled area of the house (he has to walk by it to get to the fridge or open it to get a snack! LOL!) would serve as a really helpful reminder and keep him on track and help him become master of his own day!

The more I looked at the workboxes, the more they reminded me of when I was trying to set up our study as a Montessori classroom and how I just couldn't maintain it no matter how I tried. It was way beyond me. And that made me think about work or learning centers. So then I thought, why don't I try learning centers again? Becky is going to be 8 soon. She is so busy, always getting into things and investigating things. I think learning centers would work for her. She'd like setting them up and I think she'd like the freedom to roam from one to the other. Also, I think she'd be enjoy me rotating things through the centers. It would kind of be like the workboxes where the kids are excited to see what mom has planned for them. Only I wouldn't worry so much about the sequence of how we did things. This all reminds of Mary Hood's method of unschooling. Only I would combine the learning centers with the workstrips. I know I want to cover the 4 R's almost every day, if we can; that is, Religion, 'Rithmatic, Reading and 'Riting. So I'd be a bit more structured about it than Mary Hood. We'd have a set time every morning to work on studies.

Here's how we could cover these things:

Religion - read alouds, projects (CHC is chock full of them) and planning and decorating our family altar according to the liturgical year.

'Rithmatic - I've decided to learn math along with Sean so that I can get over my math phobia. He wants to get a dvd like those DIVE ones and use Saxon (which is the text his older siblings use) and study it that way. I figure we can take our time moving through the book at our own speed and intertwine it with lots of Science; namely The Universe in our Hands, Monster Storms, etc. Lots of science uses math, so I think we'll focus on that. For Becky I am going to do my usual thing, do the mental math from the MCP 3rd grade TM, math Lit. books, fun worksheets, playing with manipulatives, etc. And she can listen in on Sean's learning too, if she wants.

Reading - this will be done two ways - 1)read alouds which will center on history, science, literature and poetry. 2) independent reading which means free or assigned reading for Sean, Josh and Will and short reading lessons for Becky. 3) Vision Therapy - this is something we MUST do first thing after breakfast and we need in order to become fluent readers around here!

Writing - I'm cheating here because I'm including Latin in this. I figure that Latin teaches grammar and also vocabulary so it is part of Language Arts. This also means penmanship, copywork and actual composition and narration of the sort that goes into our history notebooks.

Fine Arts/Hobbies - I'd like to have one card slot to remind us of things like drawing, art and music appreciation, music practice, hobbies (Josh is interested in learning woodworking), Pilgrims of the Holy Family stuff, etc.

Taking care - this card would remind us to take care of ourselves by eating healthfully, good hygiene, exercise, getting outdoors as well as taking care of our environment by tidying and cleaning to keep the house in order.

What I envision doing is setting up these learning centers and then letting the kids choose the different activities they want to do. I get to play the role of director to ensure that we touch on basic skills fairly frequently. But if Becky wants to focus on copywork for a few days or weeks, that's fine. If she wants to do something different every day that's fine too. As long as we are addressing the 4 R's in some way, shape or form.


Suburban Correspondent said...

I'm definitely checking out that work strip idea - anything has got to be better than what I've been doing lately: piling everyone's books in a milk crate in my bedroom.

Willa said...

I'm glad you like my blog...: )

I have some of the same questions you have about how it will work, but I'm hoping that using the workboxes a bit will help my younger ones interact with their school day. They both get engaged in their "fun" things and it's hard to drag them away to do academic tasks, so I thought maybe the workboxes would give them a visual/concrete way to understand what they need to do in a day.

I'm hoping it will also help ME -- the mom that can't do art or science projects because I never figure out what materials are needed until the last minute!