How Do I Keep Organized?
A. Day-timer – Keeping a day timer of some sort on my desk and jotting a younger child’s daily work helps me a great deal. Sometimes it is done after the fact but it keeps us on track and I do not need to relie on my overtaxed memory facilities.Categories at the back of the day-timer are invaluable if you are educating a number of children over the years. Suggestions are: Educational Resources We Own, Library Books Worth Reading, Preschool Reading Program, Bible Instruction Program, Field Trips, Community Programs Friendly to Homeschoolers, E-mail addresses , $$ Educational Purchases (where, when, how much). Although this is not an education item I thought I would mention that I also keep one category for each child and jot down their personal health facts. It helps a lot when questions arise such as “What was that medication they reacted too?” “Did they get an immunization?” “Who was it that had _______, and when ?” “How did I try to remedy that problem?” I wish I had done this for myself over the years.
B. Booklist – I also print out a book list for each child and record books read and exams taken on it. I circle the number of any books to be postponed so we will be sure to come back to them and list any additional reading (such as from the Books of Knowledge [-1962 edition] or any books you have personally chosen as required reading) on the back or a separate page.
C. RC Weekly Assignment Record – This is a page where each student records their daily work. For the younger student I check it each day or write the summary myself . The older child hands it in a the weeks end and completes neglected work on Saturday. (see the separate category in Ann’s Corner for a link to the printable version)
D. Binders – Each student has a binder in which they keep 1. Supplementary Reading List 2. RC Document List (booklist) 3. RC Assignment Records 4. Writing Helps (student pages that explain how to write a book report, different styles of poems, organizing an essay etc.) Now I have the older ones keep separate binders for their examinations and daily writing
E. Timer – As I go about my daily routine with the little ones, in the kitchen, household chores, etc., it is easy to forget ‘the time’ and neglect checking up on someone who is still learning to self-teach. To minimize this I set a timer for myself and inform the child that I will be back in __ minutes to check on their progress … and I am. It is also essential for the child that is memorizing math facts. We have also gotten them for the older children if it helps them to be faithful in working for the required time elements. This CAN be a problem if they use the time for daydreaming and do not actually complete the work. Knowing the WORK requirement is more important then their knowing a time ‘requirement’.
F. Checklist – The best system (meaning simple and straightforward) for keeping track of younger, or all, children’s daily requirements I discovered just this year (Sept. 2004). I like it better then the RC assignment record. It just takes moments each day to keep effective track of the whole family.
For each child I took a 70 page spiralbound notebook (all of .10 each on sale at Meijer) and made half inch columns, one for each school day from Sept. through Dec. (in Dec. I will do Jan. – June/July). On the top of each I put the day of the week from Fri.- Sat and day of the month. I left some space on the right side for comments. I took one page out and folded it in half. Turn the first page so you have columned pages on both sides. Glue the folded page on the left side, matching the lines, so one folded side will fold out to the left. (Maybe you can find an actual pre-columed notebook to avoid this busy work..I couldn’t. The Columnar Pads fall apart.)
This extension is for writing down ALL the child’s weekly work requirements, in each category, one under the other: MATH – timed test, flashcards, Saxon, error rate; WRITING – copywork, original composition, grammar; VOCABULARY; READING; (EXAMS); MISCELLANEOUS – Bible reading, Scripture memory, catechism: CHORES (whatever they routinely are responsible for through a week) (e.g. empty dishwasher. petcare, wipe table, meal prep, vacuum etc.); MUSIC practice; help younger sibling; (even brush TEETH, make BED if you so choose)…till you run out of spaces.
Each day I pull out the notebook and simply make a check mark down that days column beside each item that was accomplished that day. My 13 year old comes and checks it for herself. (If there was a very bad attitude there will be a check with a line through it. ) It is now clear to each child and to me what the requirements are and how often some things are or are not getting done. If they want to go off to play..we check the list .. requirements come first. Not everything is necessarily to be done everyday, on off days you just put a slash through. If you took a holiday or someone is ill etc. it can be written in the column for that day. For Math I put the lesson #in instead of a checkmark and can see at a glance how many lessons a child is achieving in a week. At a glance I can see a child’s ENTIRE weeks/months/years accomplishments. Rewards can now be administered for excellent achievements and improved work ethic. 🙂
At the back of the notebook, about 10 pages in, I put a tab marked BIBLIOGRAPHY. Each day or so I list the books the child is reading, with a star to mark a favourite. Now I have a list that goes beyond RC books and I can refer to it for other children’s reading pleasure.
Just beyond the checklist/columed pages I have plenty of pages for anything else I may want to write in regards to that particular child’s schooling etc. I make sure I date each comment.
G. Drawers – in the kitchen I have placed a small drawered unit. Each child has their own drawer for handing in writing and keeping of the above notebook. Some also keep their timer there. That way it is convenient for me and writing doesn’t get left all over the place. Eventually it gets handed back to the child to go in their binder. It works great.
Update: We have found this resource to be very helpful for RC students who need more structure: www.homeschoolstudentplanner.com/home2.htm
Weekly Assignment Record
Have you ever wanted a form to help you help your children be more accountable in their daily work and to have on hand as a record of their yearly work?
Arn and I have designed one recently and have been implementing it with our 3 oldest with good success.
Details on How to Use the Record.
MATH – I think it is pretty self-explanatory. To make sure they are not short changing in the time element my husband now has them write in the beginning time and have it initialled (by one of us). Having the older children accountable directly to him has kept them more honest in this aspect. When they are done they do the same.
READING – The ‘book #’ refers to those books from the RC booklist. In actuality we use it very little because the children write in the title and then use an abbrev. for the following days they are reading from the same book. It doesn’t hurt to have them jot down the book # as it makes it easier to locate on the document list.
I included the ‘titles’ category because we, and most families have other books, not on the RC list that we allow or require for study time (such as The Books of Knowledge). WE do not even use the ‘pages’ or ‘time’ categories but I included them because I thought it would be useful to other families who monitor a child’s reading that closely (from discussion on the forum).
WRITING – ‘Editing’ is the brief way of saying, ‘Did you fix the grammar errors?’ I just looked the word up in the dictionary and it appears it may not be the best choice here, a little overkill maybe for young writers(editing being “to prepare for publication”). I probably should have used the word ‘Corrections’.
Dr. Robinson always had his children correct their writing errors prior to beginning another essay. With my younger children who tend to do their writing with less contemplation and research they fix them the same day under my supervision. When the piece of writing refered to in ‘topic’ is corrected we put a check mark (or my initial) in the ‘edited’ column.
VOCABULARY – Again, the ‘book #’ is the number used on the RC booklist. I use only 2 lines for the ‘words’ as one can fit more than one word on a line. (We wanted the assignment record to only take two pages. We played around with more but narrower lines but found that the younger children had difficulty writing that small.)
For the columns with ‘pronunciation’, ‘spelling’, and ‘review’ either the child or I check off or initial when the words can be spelled correctly, said correctly and they have not only written 3 new words but reviewed all the words from that week (on Monday they quiz themselves on the previous weeks words).
Now, I have to say that that is the ideal. Most of the time they do not practice spelling them, pronouncing them or reviewing them!! That is too much for me to keep up with so I have left it to them. Those who do more will know more. I DO enforce the 3 words a day. For those who neglect even this during the week they get to add it to Saturday’s agenda (as many as they skipped.). We only require the math on Sat. which they, of course, enjoy so adding ‘catch up’ work is a deterent to skipping requirements during the week.
At the end of the week I go over each child’s assignment record and I sign it and make any comments like, “You’ll have to do this on Sat., sorry!”, “Work on your handwriting for a couple days please.” or “Keep it up.” etc.
Sometimes a child doesn’t fill in the assignment record and so that has to be done Fri. or Sat. just as any other neglected work. It has helped to have the older ones accountable to dad, knowing he is going to look over their record and be pleased or displeased.
Each of our students has a Study Binder and one of the categories is “Assignment Record”. They put it in there and I do refer to it to see what my comments were and if they followed through.
Well, I think I have exhausted all aspects. Blessings, Ann Jagt
Letter to a new RC user in South Africa – January 2009
Praise God for your stalwart action is taking your children home in face of the chaos around you. Our children have always been home. Although we continue to teach them to recognize humanist religious thought and outcome as at war with Christian thought and life it is still a more subtle danger. My verse ‘food’ for this last year has been, ” He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not grow weary in welldoing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:8,9 It has also been impressed upon me that His Word is our SWORD and to keep it on hand at all times.
I will address your questions. The childlren are at their desks so I have the time. Yes, many people call but Arnold gets the bulk of the conversation as it is a part of his job and only occasionally a call or letter is directed to me. We are truly blessed to have contact with so many of like faith and calling.
Do we read the books in order? We have never done so. We view it as a library. Because the books are in order of difficulty one child may read a selection of books within their reading range. For e.g. the girls were not ready for The Life of George Washington as early as it appeared on the list so that book number is circled for later reading..(Each child has a copy of the entire booklist.) That might be many months later even a couple years. . My one daughter skipped all the Rover boy books for awhile but when she took an interest in them she read them all in a row without stopping. My older daughter always had 2 or 3 books going at the same time. This is not a problem at all. To encourage our son to love reading literature I chose Aesop’s Fables and The Life of Jolly Robin etc. and I did not require him to read series such as Bobbsey Twins and Five Little Peppers. (He is the only one of the 6 who is more inclined to Encylopedia, Science, magazines and cartoon type material.)
As a side note here. This son is now 14 and has read many of the classics. I started him a small library in his room of favourites (bought hardback copies for birthday gifts) and he read them repeatedly. Better a small selection of excellent books he enjoys then a lot of ‘other’. We want them to love reading. Because of this son I have also purchased the Wile science books ( Apologia Science, Exploring God’s Creation Series) which he is studying as part of his reading and writing and he continues to read the RC books. The other children became avid readers and the older ones have read about 90% of the RC books. I remember scrambling to get more books from the library at first to meet the need. For e.g. the rest of Louisa May Alcott’s books plus a biography of her. I have a good bibliography guide of children’s literature which helped me add to our library as well.
Now our pattern of reading is: First, 2 -4 chapters of the Scriptures. Second, history/science type reading.(nonfiction) I allow this to include reading from The Books of Knowledge. Third, English literature (fiction).
Note: The Books of Knowledge are the children’s encyclopedia that Dr. Robinson recommends. This reading broadens their knowledge of the world in general. They are our first ‘grab’ when researching something as well. I do not insist they read from cover to cover but teach them how to follow a topic of interest by using the index and counsel them to take note of dates so they are acquiring a mental time line.
The beginning students work is not necessarily divided in the same manner. Math may be flashcards, a written facts practice and a portion of 54. (this is Leah’s habit.) Scripture may be reading and copying the Scripture verse they are memorizing. Further writing may be copywork from a story book. Leah still loves to do this and coverrs it with illustrations as well. Reading may be from one selection for a shorter period of time. As they get more capable of reading and keeping their attention then they read for longer periods until they can read for 2 one hour periods. Some will easily read 2 hours nonstop.(Leah does some days.) In fact I had to restrict my older daughters reading time as she would disappear for hours and neglect other duties. “
You are confused because you are comparing the RC methodolgy to the more familiar education model that divides everything into subject periods. The RC doesn’t do this. The subject model was designed for systematic teaching in government schools. It takes a bit of a mental shift to get away from that and view learning as Dr. Robinson presents…the old fashioned reading and studying excellent books, writing and problem-solving through mathematics. At first I would worry that my kids were missing so many facts because they weren’t covering ‘all’ the subjects. Then I realized that they were becoming excellent students who enjoyed their books rather then bored kids who forgot most everything ‘after the test’. Dr. Robinson said also that when a child shows an interest in something feed that interest with excellent, indepth knowledge. That is why I bought the Exploring Science textbooks for my son.
Because Arnold has different goals for his children..not the university degree that Dr. Robinson wants for his children, our eldest daughter has also completed both the Exploring Creation Biology and currently the Chemistry books. Dr. Robinson’s book don’t have to be exclusive. The goal is self-teaching students who go on to learn whatever they want/need in life. I see this being achieved in our children with his methodology and books.
Keeping away from competing TV and computer games when they are young is critical. They are in direct competition with books. Books require more mental activity and are almost always the lousers. We fight this same battle over again and always end up restricting all T.V. and computer until nonschooldays. Dr. Robinson is right. Now our eldest 2 have laptops and use them very well for productive activity. Our 16 year old has limited use.
Geography, nature studies are taught in our home non=academically. We use globes, maps and charts as part of life. We get books from the library on butterflies, gardening, the body etc. I most say I have included a set of science readers for their reading time but I know that even simple story books can incorporate nature knowledge. Music is a part of our life as well and to ‘stretch the eyes’ after a long period of math some of them practice their instrument before going on to vocab/writing and reading. Sometimes a chore is done as a break but I have gotten away from trying ‘recess’ because they are working at different paces and I always forgot the couple who went outside! Keeping all the study time pretty close together with just a music practice, chore and lunch break works best for us.
Well, I have said more then I thouight. I trust this will encourage and bless you.
In our Saviour’s Name,