Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Homeschool Manual

Hi,

Have you ever had a really good idea but then in the flow of life with its ups and downs never implemented it?  Or maybe you have?

Today I found I had implemented a really good idea... twice.  :-)

As I have shuffled things around in this house I got 2 filing boxes in one place at one time and in looking through them realised that I had set up an almost identical filing system twice over for our homeschooling papers.

After having to read a training manual at work this last week I realised that I need a manual for homeschooling.  I am creating a document that lists out my goals for homeschooling, my plans for school, where things are stored and how the paper should flow through this system.

I am even thinking of creating a flow chart to show where things go when.  lol  Too much?!

Folders and boxes are now getting labels with official sounding names like Future Planning - Lesson Plans and Materials (a binder for the overview of topics and how they fit into the big picture) and Future Planning - Subject Materials (a large file box with folders for each subject for those miscellaneous things you find like a great game or crossword puzzle or fun activity, and folders for each resource that I have to copy to use eg Critical Thinking books, and folders for lessons plans with the materials that relate to them and a list of other resources and their location.

I already have Subject Boxes sitting in a bookshelf that have the current books that we are using for that subject and a small file folder that contains any worksheets or printed resources that will be needed for the current week.  Next week's work is in the Future Planning - Lesson Plans and Materials binder or the Future Planning - Subject Materials box.

The planning side of my personality is already feeling better.  I hate feeling overwhelmed.

So, how many people have a homeschool manual?  What do you have in yours and why did you decide to create it?

Best wishes
Jen



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Time Management Alone Not Enough - Essay

This is an essay I wrote last year for a Uni prep subject.  Thought I would post it here.  Looking back at it I can see it has a few wrinkles but still it got me a good mark.  :)



Having dreams and being able to put in place actions that will lead to their realisation is a feature of humans that sets them apart from animals.  Many wonderful inventions such as the light bulb, the aeroplane and liquid paper have been created from the dreams in the minds of passionate and creative men and women.  Knowing how to turn those ethereal dreams and goals into physical realities effectively requires appropriate tools for time management and the achievement of dreams and goals for individuals, and for our society as a whole.  Time management alone is not sufficient.
Most people get caught up in thinking that if they finish their daily To Do List or achieve that elusive goal that their life will be complete.  This action component of goal setting is not enough though, unless it is acknowledged that humans are not only a physical body completing physical actions but also a spiritual being that needs meaning in life. Covey et al. (1994) and Smith (2000) agree that goal setting without a guiding passion or value can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction with life.  To Do Lists alone fail to bring dreams into reality for most.
In “First Things First” Covey et al. (1994) writes of four generations of time management. It is suggested that people with the first generation time management style action tasks without thought of priorities while second generation style time managers plan and schedule but don’t relate these activities to their priorities.  While possibly being able to be effective in their lives, those who follow either of the former styles will most likely find themselves living without a definite purpose in life and a feeling of dissatisfaction.  They are not realising their dreams. 
Third generation style time management people “achieve sizable gains in personal productivity through focused daily planning and prioritization” (Covey et al, 1994:25). While this may sound worthwhile this style may also prove dissatisfying.  The fourth generation moves on to a higher level of thinking, involving being aware of personal values, and being in touch with an individual’s uniqueness and their possible contribution to this world as they make decisions about what is written on their daily lists and what are their goal and dreams for life (Covey et al, 1994).  This level of time management is more likely to realise the dreams of those who utilise it.
Many time management systems available today focus on the second and third generation styles of organising, planning and creating task lists and schedules.  They miss the essential heart of the matter: that humans have hearts, with passions and a creativity that no other living being on this earth has.  Napoleon Hill (1965) suggests that each of us has a Major Definite Purpose in life and that when it is discovered we will know it for it will create a surge of energy in us (Hill, 1965:53).  Covey et al. (1994) also discuss creating a Mission Statement that inspires the individual and anchors them to that passion that helps make life worthwhile (Covey et al., 1994:116).
In day to day life there is a need to remember that humans are passionate and when driven by worthwhile dreams can achieve great feats.  While setting goals and writing task lists is a creditable action, it is valuable to note that there needs to be value in those goals and tasks or life can become a mundane pile of completed lists instead of a life of purpose.  When an individual knows what their passions are and what they value in life it will lead to a more satisfying life for them and will turn add value to our society as they achieve their dreams. 
There is a definite urgency for a different outlook on time management systems that acknowledges all of an individual’s needs, both spiritual and physical, if the human race is to continue flourishing as individuals, and as a whole.  Having purpose and reason to complete those To Do Lists will benefit the whole human race, not just the individual, and is a worthwhile reason to change how time is “managed”.


References
Covey, S.R., Merrill, A.R. & Merrill, R.R. 1994, First Things First, Fireside, New York, NY, USA.
Hill, N. 1965, The Master-Key to Riches, Ballantine Books, USA.
Smith, H.W. 2000, What Matters Most: the Power of Living Your Values, Fireside, New York, NY, USA.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Good, Bad and the Ugly! Or is it vice versa?

So working 20 odd hours a week can really change how you manage your life.  D'oh!  Of course it does!

The Ugly bit has been that our days do not start early.  My boys often don't get themselves breakfast and by the time I get up after a late night at work they are often entrenched in TV and PCs.  That certainly loads on the guilt.

The Bad is that I am not getting all the school done each day that I would like to get done.  We are not getting to the flesh of an education, only making bare bones a lot of the time, so school feels more like all work and no fun.

The Good is that I have learned to focus more quickly in the morning and even if I haven't had time to make a lovely written/typed out plan for the week I can still pick up each book we use daily and do something from it.  We have been doing rote memorising of times tables on the lounge, and spelling, grammar and writing are happening about 3-4 days a week.  The boys also work independently on their maths.  That is a lot more consistent than I have been in the past where I could miss weeks without realising it.  It also certainly helps when I like what we are using so there is no angst in getting out the books to do something, no matter how small.

It is school holidays and I hadn't intended to take a break but we are slowing down a little.  The boys have finally decided to talk to the kids down the street that are about their age.  I want them to go out and play.  I need to get my head wrapped around more realistic expectations of working and homeschooling and trim those huge plans I had at the beginning of the year back so they are workable.  I also need to finish off my Cert 3 course.

So, it is time to take a breather, fine tune what can be realistically done over the next 3 months and get on with some studies of my own.  Actually I am feeling pretty good about a time out.  Let's hope I use it effectively.

Best wishes
Jen

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Poetry Workshops Part 1

So... do you hate poetry like I do?  lol  I am really more a lay it out in logical order type of person and my drawing skills are horrible.

Anyway, I got chatting to a friend a few weeks ago and she encouraged me to do a poetry workshop for our kids together.

Over 3 or 4 days we looked at different ways words are used in poetry.  It was quite fun, especially the Dada method.  My friend had a bag of magnetic words which were piled onto a tray and we chose one at random each in turn.  Amazing how interesting the poems turned out.  Even though these poems are supposed to be devoid of meaning we would still look for it. 

It has been some time since we did this so I can't quite remember which was whose (I will correct this later when my friend reminds me. :-) ) but here are some pictures of our poetry.






I quite liked the last one and the second one. 

More to come, need to take photos of the boys' work.

Best wishes
Jen

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Handwriting Improving, Yipee!

Hi,

Made myself a plan for improving the boys' handwriting.  It was really a big bug bear for me after their time in school.

It is sort of a mish mash of a few methods plus my own remembrances from school.

First stage - Magic C
Steps
1. Two lines of c shapes that start at 1 o'clock, bump the top line, curve around, bump the bottom line and come up again to 5 o'clock.
2.  Continue doing one line of magic c shapes and then one line of o.
3. Half a line of magic c and half a line of o and add in a full line of a, d, g and q one at a time.  We always do a half line of the basic shape and then use the other half of the line to review problem letters.


(I would get the children to circle the best 2 letters on each line in their opinion, and then I would tick above the good ones and double tick the awesome letters.  Sometimes I would make a note of a detail they might need to pay attention to next time, or add a smiley face!)

Finish off the magic c letters with a game.  Get them to draw a magic c then call out a letter to change it into.  This has really helped with making sure that g for instance has the circle part on the line instead of the tail touching the bottom line.  It also helped the shape of a to be more round instead of a bit like a tear drop.  I add this game in whenever we have had a break for a while to just get them back into handwriting.

Second stage - bump letters
Steps
1. Two lines of caterpillar humps, in clusters of 4 or 5.  Check for even bumps, right to the top and down to the line and symmetry.
2. Continue doing basic shape for one line and add in r, n, m, h, b and p in stages.
3. Keep adding in review letters for half or a full line as you see the need.  Individualise!

Third stage - i, l, u, t, y, j
Steps
1. Practice short and tall vertical lines that start at the top and travel neatly down to the bottom line.
2. Continue doing basic shape and add in other letters.
3. Keep adding in review letters for half or a full line as you see the need.  Individualise!

Fourth stage - zig zag letters: v, w, x, z
Steps
1. Practice / and \ at the appropriate angles for the above letters.  One line at a time.  Check for good start and finish places.
2. Continue doing the basic shapes, 1/2 line each and add in v, w, x and z in stages.
3. Keep adding in review letters for half or a full line as you see the need.  Individualise!

Fifth stage - e, f, s, k
Honestly, we aren't this far yet and I can't see a common starting point for these letters so we may just do one line at a time and practice, practice, practice.

Sixth stage - Frog jump letters (Handwriting without Tears terminology)
F, E, D, P, B, R, N, M

Seventh stage - Starting Corner letters (HWT too, I think?!)
H, K, L, U, V, W, X, Y, Z

Eighth stage - Centre Starter letters (HWT too, I think?!)
C, O, Q, G, S, A, I, T, J

The biggest thing  I try to remember with my boys is to not comment negatively on their handwriting in any other subject but I do comment very effusively when I see a beautifully formed a or g in their other writing.

It is working.  Little g now sits on the line more often than not and a is formed much more roundly instead of a tear drop shape.

Anyway, hope that helps someone.

Best wishes
Jen

Monday, May 11, 2015

Time trudges by and so do I!

Well, I have learned that it is not a good idea to pick up extra shifts regularly.  Working 4 nights a week for 3 weeks in a row was way too tiring.  The extra money will be helpful because due to tiredness I accidentally grazed a car in a parking lot.  Not so easy to see a low sports car when you are sitting up in a Tarago.  So that just shows it doesn't pay to do more work than you are physically capable of.  I know my limits.  Only 3 nights a week and I won't find myself trudging through life. :-)

Back on track now.  I hope!

BW
Jen

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Daily List for School

In discussing how school worked and didn't work for the boys they mentioned that they liked having a daily list up to see so they knew what was coming next.

I have had this roll of Ikea paper for ages and not known what to do with it.  Now it sits up on top of the shelves we have in our school room. Behind this board is a small white board that we use for spelling and then behind that are boxes for each boy and various odds and sods.


I just roll up the paper for spelling and then drop it back down to keep crossing things off.  I must admit it helps me too as I plan out the day in large writing which is just right for my morning brain.

Best wishes
Jen
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