Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our Homeschool

Tomorrow will mark our first day on our new adventure into schooling at home!  It is bittersweet in some ways.  I will miss our kids being at the parish school, for all of the same reasons that we took them out!  Still, I know this was the right decision for us at this time.

I've prepared myself and our home in the best way I can.  I still have lots to learn and since I'm not a professional organizer, I'm quite sure that there was a better way for me to utilize our small space.  I will just need to chalk it up to inexperience, learn from it and move on.

Our main space for homeschooling will be our dining room and our living room.  Nathan has a desk in his room that he can use, but he's told me that he would rather be with his sisters.  One of the reasons that I wanted to homeschool was so that we could be together more and in return, have the kids foster closer relationships with each other.

The first thing I did in preparing was to re-do their chore charts.  Since we have to fit living, schooling and our chores all into the same space, I streamlined what they are responsible for and just focused on the basics.
I'm not sure if you can read what's on their lists, but basically, they are responsible for keeping their rooms presentable and taking care of very few other household jobs.  What I did differently than in the past was to add CONSEQUENCES and PRIVILEGES.  This way, they know exactly what to expect.

Next, we all sat down and came up with the "Widener Family Homeschool Rules".  All of us made contributions to this list.  I tried to word their suggestions in a general way so that they have a better chance of obeying them and not becoming too overwhelmed.  Besides, I already have the role of mommy, maid, taxi driver, general problem solver, nurse and now teacher...I didn't particularly want to include being a policewoman too!
Recently, I cleaned out the entire entertainment center!  I did this specifically so that I could use the right side to store all our school books.  Originally they each had their own shelf, but it was necessary for me to take over the top shelf.  So, I shifted everybody down one shelf.  Amelia and Olivia are sharing a shelf as they don't have as many books.

My shelf consists mainly of teacher manuals and answer keys.  I'm also keeping the Treasure Box Series on that shelf.  Although I want the kids to have access to them, I do need to know WHERE they are as they correspond with specific lessons. I have also made a pocket folder for each of them.  This will hold their weekly work that is not in a workbook (loose paper such as their math sheets).  This really helped me to prepare for this first week.  Nathan's shelf has all of his books/materials as well as a children's dictionary and encyclopedia.  The girl's shelf has their books and to make them feel special, I've placed the miniature American Flag that we will be using for our daily pledge on their shelf as well (although in this's on Nathan's shelf).
On either side of our fireplace/mantle, we have wooden book shelves.  I love these!  Some of my friends think I shouldn't use these shelves for BOOKS, but I should use them for KNICK-KNACKS!  You're kidding me, right?  I am not a knick-knack person, at all!  So, on these shelves I have various homeschooling books and materials (and all my cookbooks) as well as a set of encyclopedias.  I cleaned these shelves out on the same day I cleaned out the entertainment center and I was able to get rid of many, many books and magazines that were no longer useful to our family.  This has left me with a lot of space.  The problem is that we also have two chairs sitting on either side of the fireplace and this makes getting to these shelves a little tricky.

In our hallway, I have a little cupboard with some shelves that used to belong to my mom.  I've always kept games and puzzles in there.  I straightened it up a bit.  The top shelf has extra crayons, markers, colored pencils and construction paper.  The next two shelves have mostly puzzles and the last shelf holds coloring books.

Recently, we've had to make some accommodations for our library books!  We kept losing them and then ended up having to pay FEES!  I decided to use a canvas bag that I've hung on the closet door right by the front door as our library book spot.  Most of the time we come in and leave through this door so this was the most central place I could find.  Yes, there are books in that bag right now, but they aren't due until August 31st!
I've also spruced up our home altar corner.  The only thing I haven't done yet is to hang up our rosaries underneath the altar yet.  Currently, our rosaries reside inside a Blessing Cup on our entertainment center (although there is a plastic one hanging by our holy water font).  Ideally, I would like them to hang freely underneath the Blessed Mother where we can see them and then possibly be more aware of our need to ask for Our Lady's help.  I am slightly concerned about the cats, though.  They have a tendency to play with such things.  The jury is still out on this one.
Well, that's a tour of our living room/school room.  I will share pictures of our dining room/school room tomorrow.  I thought I would wait until the kids were actually in there working!  I'll let you know how our first day goes!  Happy Schooling!


Sarah Oldham said...

Nancy - email me your address so I can mail you my copy of the book you didn't win - I'd be happy to send you my pristine copy!!!

aspiring... said...

As I said in the previous post, you're an inspiration, Nancy :) ...

Ahermitt said...

Looks awesome! We have paid so much in library fees over the years now, that I purchase books now and encourage as much public domain (classics) reading as possible!