Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Organizing Our Chaotic Life . . .

I mentioned a few weeks ago, that the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, is a great tool for organizing our homeschool (and life). But I thought I'd take a few minutes today to give you the specifics of how we use it, and other resources to keep things organized around here.

This summer, on the recommendation of another homeschool mom, I got a Proclick binding system. It is AWESOME!!! I don't like 3 ring binders because they're bulky, and the rings get in my way when I write (I'm a lefty). I'd contemplated comb binders various times, but really prefer spiral binding that can be folded all the way around (again, getting stuff out of my way to write left-handed is a major factor here, but even for righties (like my kids), if we're in the car or otherwise limited for space, being able to fold the book back and take up half the space is a benefit). So, when I heard about the Proclick I was thrilled!! It is basically a hole-punch that punches a BUNCH of holes. Then the spines can be clicked shut and it is essentially a spiral bound book (but they CAN be popped back open to add or remove pages. Alternately (though I haven't tried this) you can buy 3:1 spiral coils and "twirl" them into the holes for a permanent, and actually spiral-bound, book. I plan to do this for the girls previous-year school work and other "archive" type things that I know we shouldn't ever have to remove or add pages to. But for now, we're using the pro-click spines.

So, with this handy dandy tool, and the OH SO handy 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, I set to work.

First, I made books for each of the girls. I wanted all of our daily-use school papers to be in one place so that they're easier to keep track of here at home and also easier to take with us on the road.  I let each of the girls choose a picture off my camera to use for a cover for their books, then just added title information to the picture & printed it.  I slid these into sheet protectors to keep them from getting torn & make them seem like more of a "cover".

The first section of their books, I included a 2010 calendar and the monthly calendars for the next few months (I plan to "revise" their books every couple of months, removing completed pages and adding new ones, to keep it small enough to be manageable, so did the same with the calendar pages). I had a free printable calendar with horse pictures that I'd downloaded, so used it for their monthly calendar pages. Also in this section, I included a page for "books I've read"  where they can list any books they read on their own (we will NEED this information, starting next year when we have to report to the state, so I want them to get into the habit now.  Then to differentiate the sections of their book, I got tabbed pocket dividers. This gives them some pockets in their books to slip extra pages and such into, and was an easy way to divide it into sections.

These sections are for each of their school subjects that requires "papers".  There is a section for their Bible copywork (they copy a Bible verse or part of a verse off the white board each day).  A section for Peterson handwriting, and a section for Spanish.

Next I decided to make myself a "Homeschool Planner".  Not for lesson-plans per se (I keep them on the computer), but for all the other odds & ends.  I didn't other with a fancy cover for mine, choosing instead, to use a tabbed pocket divider as my cover (gives me more pockets to stuff papers into that way, hee hee.

My first section is my "calendar section". You can see in the above picture, that the first page inside my book is a 2010 calendar (most of these pages come from the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner). Followed, logically by a 2011 calendar. Then I have my "annual plan" page. While I don't have everything on here, by any means, it allows me to add trips, holidays, other things that I need to keep in mind when figuring out what we're doing for school. As much as we're traveling this year, this page is going to get lots of use LOL.
Also in the Calendar section, I have a couple pages of "dates to remember" to write future dates, by month, in case it becomes relevant, and then I included a "Year End Evaluation" form. I suspect I'll end up jotting notes on this throughout the year & then fill out a new "pretty one" to actually include in our 2010-2011 "school work to keep" book, but I wanted it in here throughout the year for just that purpose.
The last page I included in the calendar section was my own "books I've read" page. I use this page to record the read alouds that I read to the girls, both for school and at bedtime. Again, trying to get myself in the habit for next year when we "have" to do this.  And finally, I added some blank notebook paper to the back of this section (and all my sections). Like in the girls' books, I used tabbed pocket dividers between my sections, and use the pocket at the back of the first section/front of the second section to hold the book of Stories that came with our felts (and a guide of what felts to use when).

My second section, I consider my "fun" section. I LOVE to plan ahead & make lists & such, and this is my section for just that purpose I had so much fun looking through the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner & printing whichever pages struck my fancy for this section.  First I have a list of "teaching supplies" I can use it to jog my memory of things we need to get, record when I find a good deal and stock up on something, etc. (don't mind the pink stripes on the paper, our printer is acting up again, sigh).
Next I included an "all purpose wish list" where I can jot down things that I think of that we might "need" for our school.  To  be honest, I already have quite a long wish-list of school related stuff stored on amazon.com, and will continue to maintain that as my main wish list, BUT I thought it would be nice to have a paper one handy if we're sitting at the table working on something and something comes to mind (did I mention I LOVE lists?).

Following my wish list is my Loaned/Borrowed List. I LOVE this!! My friend Vicki & I trade books back & forth ALL the time and this way, I can keep track of what she has of mine (so I don't waste time hunting for a book that isn't even HERE) and what I have of hers, (so I remember to return it).  I also loaned out some curriculum this year, and feel better having that recorded, again, so I don't go hunting for it in vain. I didn't take a picture of the next page, but it's one of my favorites. It is titled "One of these days I would like to . . ." and then there are categories for all the things I'd LOVE to do someday. I love being able to jot ideas down on this page as they come to me!
And finally, another very fun page. I found this in the "information" section of the Planner. It's a whole double-sided page of ideas for Preschoolers!! And while, Little Bit isn't a preschooler, per se, I still love having the ideas there to start thinking about it. I will add my own notes and ideas and plan to work this into a page that I can flip to when we're trying to do school and she's needing something to keep her busy. Just this morning she threw a huge tantrum when she realized that the big girls were "doing school" in the dining room while she had to come upstairs with me for naptime. She wanted to be doing school with her sisters (I made a mental note, from now on, I take her upstairs and THEN the big girls go into the dining room, if that's the schedule for the day). So, even though she certainly doesn't need "academics" for quite some time, I can see that we do need to have things that she will perceive as "school" available in the very near future, this list should come in handy for that.  And finally, in the pocket in the back of this section, I keep the lists of weekly, monthly, and annual chores that we pull from each week when we decide who's going to do what for the week.

The final section of my planner is my Blog Reviews section!  I printed off another copy of the Annual Plans form to use for this section, and write in the blog review dates as I get them. I also have listed at the top of the page, a reminder of some of the weekly Blog Carnivals and such that I would at least LIKE to participate in, it doesn't always happen.
 Next I have a checklist page that another crew member created, for keeping track of all the reviews, and what I still need to do for each.  And finally, I have several copies of another page, created by another crew member, that reminds me of the specific information to include in each review (I use one for each review that I am involved with).  And that's my planner! I love how personalized it is, and compact (thinner than a normal spiral notebook). Easy to grab and go when we need to travel.

I was planning to also show you the handy-dandy Kitchen Notebook I made, ALSO with pages from the 2010 Schoolhouse Planner, but this post has already gotten so long, I think I'll save that for another day.


Tristan said...

I love it! The Proclick is just a lot of fun, isn't it? Combining it with the Schoolhouse Planner works so well.

Monica said...

I just ordered a Proclick!! YAY! :)