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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Home SCHOOL management

Yesterday I asked all of you what you want me to post about since I've been dealing with writers block lately. I got several great ideas...

I'll start with the question from a friend of mine at Mostly Blue with a Touch of Pink
She asked 'how do you manage the logistics of homeschooling many different grade levels at one?'

Here's what works for me...
It took me a long time to get to the place we are today where the kids are mostly independently learning and they are 'in charge' of their school day for the most part.

I am going to write this post on how I organize and manage the logistics of schooling the 4 big kids who are in grades 5,3,2 and 1. The different stages we have gone through to get to this point may interest some, but I will save that for another day.

   The '11-'12 school year started in May of 2011 with the 'big decision' to begin using a homeschool curriculum/mentoring organization.  In the past I've done 'all the work' of what books to use, CAT testing annually, planning, etc. all by myself. I decided to use someone this year because I am preparing my oldest to go off to school for jr. high or high school and I wanted to make sure all 'bases were covered' and that she'd be ready.
  St. Thomas Aquinas Academy which came highly recommended by friends and family who had had great success using them. I like STAA for several reasons. The 3 most important reasons are: they give the children a thorough assessment each year and then provide feedback to me about each individuals strengths and weaknesses, they also recommend certain books, but they are not 'unwavering'- they allow me to use what they recommend or stick with something else I like if it's working for that kid, and thirdly, they provide the lesson plans for each day, week and month for EACH child!!!! They save me time and since they are the experts I feel good about having them 'get my back' each year. I've already re-enrolled my middle 2 children and tested them for the next school year. They work a little ahead of schedule in order to have the families ready for summer home school conferences and so that the parent can get planning and such done for next year before summer vacation season hits.

  STAA has helped me simplify the 'processes', but I still have to do my homework. Here's the layout of the process I go through with STAA.

Step 1  Feb. to March (some time in there)- test the children

Step 2 (April/May) 3 to 4 weeks after testing- Set up a 45 min. per child phone call for going over the test results and recommended course of study.

Step 3 (May) Ponder and review recommended books and course of study advice

Step 4 (June)  Shop for books. (STAA gives a list of books and where to get them for the best price!)

Step 5 (June) Choose the first day of school and divide up the school year into quarters.

Step 6 (July) Take one child at a time and look at a weekly plan 'document' (picture added to post tomorrow-its been a LONG day) for THAT child only at first. Use the STAA lesson plans as a guide. They say how much time each day should be spent on each subject...another GREAT help provided by STAA.

Step 7 (August) Get all 4 school age kids' weekly schedule finished and look at all 4 of them together to see how the days flow. Make sure that all are not scheduled for the computer at the same time or that I'm not scheduled to be working with all 4 at the same time. Make it work for you!

Step 8 (August) Work in 'toddler time'. I actually 'assign' each big kid to help with the toddlers for 20 min or so (if it's going well they go a little longer) each day. During the time when the toddlers are busy with a big kid (or sometimes I group 2 big kids together depending on how well 1 big kid is doing alone) I work with the children on their subjects that require my help.

I know what you're saying 'she does it this way and it works and sounds good, but she's using STAA and I'm not'! Well, you're right, I am using STAA and likely you are not, but with a few tips...I can help you work through your lesson plans, etc.

Part Duex- How to work through home school logistics without STAA as your guide.

Good NIGHT! Going to watch a movie with my DH!!


Stephanie said...

Great post, Teresa. Can't wait to read the next part.

Maryan said...

I like your plan! I schedule toddler time too... and pair up big kids with them, but I don't ever seem to execute it the way it is on paper. :s Looking forward to more!