September 2, 2005

Prep Work for the Year

We don't start school for another few weeks as I cherish these early weeks of September. The weather is perfect, the public and private school kids are all back in classes and the museums, zoos, art museums and other fun places to visit are empty. There are no field trips to worry about and we can enjoy things at our leisure and without crowds. We watch the school bus leave in the morning in our pj's. We curl on the couch and read some books and we spend the days outside riding bikes, enjoying play grounds and doing field trips just by ourselves as a family.

During this time of the year I also try to finish odds and ends and get some prep work done. Today while the kids played outside I worked on coloring some file folder games. When I could use my laptop I also worked on some excel spreadsheets and some firefox bookmark tabs to help keep me organized.

I have found these two tools to be very powerful in homeschooling. I use firefox to organize online resources. For example this year we will be trying out Ambleside Online - a free Charlotte Mason curriculum with many free online sources. I went through and made a set of bookmark tabs for each weeks reading for the first few weeks. Then at the beginning of each week I just need to open this tab and all our reading will be there. Then I can put these grouped tabs into a folder and save it for when the other kids are old enough to use it. You can make organized groups of tabs for any subject you are studying.

I use excel to make spreadsheets to keep track of our daily work, our reading and our curriculum. I keep track on one of the amount of time we spend on each subject each day during the week and another page in that same spreadsheet keeps track of what we did for each subject. So I have both a detailed and an overview of the work we did in the same place. This serves as both a guide for what I need to do each day/week/month and a record of what we have already accomplished. It is easy to use and I can keep all my records in one place.

For example my main schoolwork spreadsheet has several sheets (or tabs if you want to think of them that way) one for each child which keeps track of their time on each subject and the content for each subject. Then I have one that is specific to the reading checklist for Ambleside and a reading list. I also have one set aside for me for any notes I wish to make. Lastly I have a year goal sheet to check off as the task is accomplished (ie learn life cycle of plant, multiplication, state capitals, etc).

This has been an easy way for me to organize and keep track of our goals, accomplished tasks both for the daily and the yearly. So as others head off to school I take this time to prep and let my kids enjoy these last days of summer and beginning of fall.


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