Schedule Changes

Well, four weeks into it and I have had to make some serious changes to our packed out looping schedule. Click here to read my post regarding my original  looping schedule, or just continue reading to see the changes that I have made.

This is what my original schedule looked like:

original schedule 2014

And here is the new schedule:

updated schedule 2014

The Kindergarten Loop has stayed the same, but in all actuality, I could have changed the time. The last few weeks, we have been able to begin this loop at 9:30 and easily make it through all of the activities by 11am. Leaving the start time, however, makes me feel really successful when starting early and right on time when we don’t start until 10. 😉

The next thing you may notice is that I anchored Math RS C (Right Start Math Level C) in the 3-4th Grade Loop time slot. I just couldn’t stand not teaching math every day. Yes, the kids still practice the math facts during independent practice time, but the Right Start curriculum is just too good, and, according to the kids, too much fun, to not do every day. Can’t argue with kids who want to do math, so I anchored it. I didn’t give it a specific time frame, but we generally work on a lesson for about 30 minutes before we move on to the looping activities.

Here is a closer look at the original 3-4th Grade Looping section:

3-4 loop before

And this is a close-up of the new schedule:

3-4th grade loop

I am head over heals for this:

grammar notebook

Kids creating their own textbooks! What a phenomenal idea! Our notebooks will be a topic of a future post, so suffice it enough to say that the interactive notebook has trumped Easy Grammar and Sonlight for now.

Another thing I have added to my schedule is a column to keep track of the lesson that we are working on and a column to mark when that lesson is completed. This addition helps me to keep track of where I am in the loop. I generally continue an activity until the lesson is complete, so if we haven’t finished the lesson within the time frame allotted, I know to continue with it the next time we meet for that looping period.

Literature has also become a larger part of our day. Originally, I was planning on a more casual read aloud time while finishing up our lunch, but this book…

21BalloonsCover

required much more attention than a casual read, as I am sure all of the others will as well. What was I thinking?? The kids love literature time. Even the twins want to know how Professor Sherman managed to get from one balloon over the Pacific Ocean to the 20 in the Atlantic. From a balloon house basket to a volcanic island, inquiring minds want to know.

Here is a close-up of our original lunch schedule:

lunch before

And the new:

Lunch after

We usually start our story at about 12:45, but again, I’m not changing the time. I like feeling great about starting early. 🙂

The Family Loop is the section that underwent the most surgery. My original schedule was just too full…

Family loop before

First, I had to drop this…

hero tales pict

Boooo! I really didn’t completely drop it however. I am adding it to our read aloud list, so Hero Tales will get its full time of glory when we finish The Twenty-One Balloons.

Next, I moved Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Jr. to Thursdays. This is a perfect fit for our shopping day and has also become the kids payday. We only have one more lesson in this curriculum, but I am planning to keep this time to practice our money counting and spending habits. So much problem solving happens here and they see the relativity of their math lessons.

So here is a close-up of the new Family Loop schedule:

Family Loop

The kids love the Bible Answers curriculum, as well as science, so allowing longer periods for both makes everyone happier.

Finally, I am so incredibly happy with The Homeschool Piano curriculum from Jazz Edge, that this also begged for more scheduled time. Originally I planned to continue with the Family Loop during this time slot, but the kids actually wanted to watch more Willie, the piano instructor, so I couldn’t argue.

Here is the original:

Music schedule before

And here is the dedicated time slot:

Music after

At about 3pm, I review the kids remaining independent practice work and head out for my jog with my dog and my much needed alone time with my Lord. He is the One who gives me daily strength and patience.

But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Psalm 86:15

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The Point System

In keeping with the theme of grace in my disciplining methods, I have implemented a points system inspired by the leader of Titus Ladies, Mrs. Margie Harryman. The idea, as explained in her book, “Letters to Krista,” is that each child 4 years old and up is freely given 25 points a day. “They cannot earn bonus points for good behavior, but they can lose points by bad behavior. The points are lost in 5 point increments, so it takes five episodes to lose all 25 points.” (Letters…pg 55) I have given this system a hands on approach and it is working quite well for us.

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First, each child decorated a yogurt container which would hold 25 popsicle sticks bundled in groups of 5.

IMG_3176

When the child misbehaves, he or she puts a bundle on my desk. This very act of going to his desk and taking out a bundle of sticks gives the child time to process his behavior and is usually all that is needed to correct the behavior. So far, no child has ever lost all of his sticks in one day. Turns out that this is also a great math reinforcer. My 5 year olds are great at counting by fives.

As Margie also suggests, each stick is worth 1 cent, so they can earn 25 cents a day just by having good behavior. In order to keep track of their earnings, I use an excel spreadsheet and at the end of each night, I quickly enter in the amount of points each child has earned that day. The sticks on my desk remind me to log their earnings and if they don’t loose points that day, I don’t log. My spread sheet has 16 columns, so I just back log their earnings once I see sticks on my desk. It’s obvious that if I haven’t logged in a while, that means they haven’t lost points in a while, so I know they have earned their full reward for the days that I have not recorded.

At the end of 16 days, we get together for Pay Day. The kids have calculated that in 16 days, they should have earned 4 dollars. I calculate each child’s earnings using the sums function in the Excel program. I do not have the kids calculate their own total earnings yet. I’m sure the process will evolve, but for now I want them to focus on counting money and figuring out how much money they have lost. This turns out to be a great lesson in counting change, since their earnings are usually amounts such as $3.95, $3.65, etc. Here is 5 day example of my Excel spreadsheet.

Date 9/17/14 9/18/14 9/19/14 9/20/14 9/21/14
11 yo 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25
8 yo 0.25 0.2 0.2 0.25 0.25
5 yo 0.25 0.2 0.2 0.15 0.25
5 yo 0.25 0.2 0.15 0.2 0.25

We have been using this system for over 2 months now and the kids absolutely hate to loose points. Loosing points means loosing free money, and as we are going through the Financial Peace JR curriculum, they each have something special they are saving up for.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. Col. 3:23-24

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9

Thankful for Homeschooling

As I reflect on the many blessings that I am thankful for this season, I am especially overwhelmed with gratitude toward God for the grace he has given me to be able to homeschool my children.  Prior to homeschooling, I was a public school teacher. I chose the teaching profession, and a degree in Child Development, in order to stay close to my then newborn son. Raised by feminist parents, my idea of being a stay at home mom was nothing more than cooking and cleaning, and heaven forbid, catering to my husband’s every need. I was mortified at the thought, but once my son was born, the thought of leaving him in the hands of someone else was even more mortifying.  If I couldn’t have him with me at all times, then I at least wanted him right next door, even as close as the next classroom over. Becoming a teacher, so that he could attend the same school that I taught at was, in my eyes, better than staying at home.

About two years into my teaching career, a dear friend wanted to take her son out of public school in order to homeschool, and, since I was swimming in the Kool-Aid of social indoctrination, I talked her out of it. (Insert foot in mouth.)  Two years after that, I felt the Lord, and my husband, press on my heart to have more children. I decided that if I was going to have more children, I didn’t want other people teaching my children while I taught theirs. I wanted to teach my own children.

As I look back, I realize that God guided my heart to a career in teaching, so that I would have the confidence to teach my own children. Because of my experience with kids in public school, I understand my own kid’s learning challenges as well as their strengths and I am able to build on what God has given them so that He may use them for His glory. My children thrive at home in delight directed learning within a classical framework. Had my composer son been in public school, he would not have had time to develop his love for music. They would have made him see tutor after tutor, and specialist after specialist, in order to improve his reading comprehension. My drummer boy would have been in every remedial class available and probably drugged with a dismal outlook on a world in which he didn’t fit. I certainly would not have had enough time to put him on the GAPS diet, and it is only due to the gift and desire God gave me to cook, that I am able to have him on this diet in the first place. It was God that taught me how to cook and gave me a love for it.  The Lord knew the path I needed to take. Now our children have confidence in the One who created them, the One who loves them so much that He sent His Son to die for them. In this confidence, they can do all things because it is He who strengthens them.

I am so thankful and blessed that God has led me on this journey. I am so grateful that he walks beside me, and goes before me in order to keep me on His path, so that our children will know his mercy and grace.  And I am most thankful for the change He has made in my heart, to desire the role He gave women, to submit to and respect the man He has given as head over me. It is a secure and peaceful place to be, in His will.