Five Island Sojourners

A blog about Homeschool, Cooking and Life in the Tropics

The Battle Rages On

on July 25, 2012

The inauguration of our first-full time homeschool year has forced me to accept the reality of a war raging in my inner self.  The two opposing sides: the fun, adventurous side of Koko and the organized, scheduled Koko.  The former scoffs at the latter, calling her boring and staid.  The latter retorts that she is the reason why the former is still alive.  This is the inner dialogue between my two selves:

Organized Koko, “We need to make sure all the curriculum is complete.”

Fun Koko, “No, we need to do more activities and crafts!”

Organized Koko, “But, I need to make sure they’re learning all the basics.”

Fun Koko, “Nah– it’s more important that they love learning and enjoy the day.”

Ahhh…my brain is imploding!

In light of this, I have come to accept that these two sides must live in harmony.  That’s the only way my true self will thrive.   In order to achieve a fun, craft-filled, activity-soaked homeschool day, I have implemented 4 essential planning sessions:

1)  Three months prior to the school year, I purchase the curriculum, books and workbooks for the upcoming year.  It often takes this much time for all the pieces to arrive via mail or hand-carried in friends/families suitcases.  If you’re living overseas, I highly recommend this website to order your books with free shipping worldwide:  Free shipping worldwide on all books from The Book Depository.

2) The year is broken up into 4 units, which are 9 weeks each.  This seems so much less daunting than a 36 week program.  One week prior to the start of a new unit (or before that if I get the gumption), I pull out all the workbooks, maps, lapbook components and worksheets for the upcoming unit.  I have an expanding file folder for each child that is broken up into 9 portions, one per week.  I will rip out all the worksheets and put them in the corresponding week’s section of the file along with all the other papers.  This is the most time consuming planning session because we purchased digital curriculum through Tapestry of Grace, which all needs to be printed out during this planning session.

Here’s a pic of my desk, which was handmade when we first moved here.  It’s made out of solid teak and I adore it!  I won’t even tell you the price– you’d all be on the first boat over here if you knew how cheap this kind of hand-made furniture is!  The cool part is that you can design the furniture to your exact specifications.  This puppy is so heavy that it took 4 people to get it up the stairs.

3)  Our homeschool week is 4 days/week, which allows the kids to have a free day on Monday, Kyle’s day off work– what a blessing!  Every Monday afternoon, Kyle takes the kids on a little excursion so I can have a couple of hours to prep for the upcoming week.  I read the Tapestry of Grace lesson plans, print off extra coloring pages for Lydia or pictures to be pasted in their Book of Time, and ensure that all the components for any activities are set aside and ready to go.  I will also gather all the supplies for the science activity, and place them in a plastic tub for Kyle to pull out and do with the kids sometime that week.  I pull out the read-aloud books, mark the pages to be read with a post-it note and put them in our living room for Kyle to read to the kids at his leisure.  I search the internet and find a few math games, some easy crafts that correspond to our week’s lessons, and even a few corresponding coloring pages.  This week, we’re doing a fun Math addition game, a logic puzzle, a 10 plagues coloring page,  two lap book additions corresponding to our lessons and a couple of Ancient Egyptian games.  We will also mold some Egyptian lamps out of salt dough.  Everything is printed out, laminated (if necessary), and placed into that week’s section of the expanding file for each child.  All craft components are placed in the craft area inside a special bin.  If the craft isn’t there– it’s not getting done!  No guilt– we’re free!  Quiet down, fun Koko, you’ll get your turn.

Here’s a picture of the handmade bookshelves in our homeschool room, which I designed to fit the Ikea bins that correspond to our workbox system.

4)  Every evening before a new day of homeschool, I need approximately 10 minutes to set up our workbox system. Each of the kids has a set of 10 boxes.  Each box contains a worksheet, activity, game, puzzle or book, with a notation on the outside of the box to let them know the length of time they are to spend on this activity.  I also throw in whatever utensils they need– scissors, tape, etc.  The workbox system allows me to think through in detail about the flow of work, the amount of time to spend on each task, and ensures that I’m not over-taxing my voice.  The kids love this system so much because every day has a fun, organized structure– with a few fun surprises and games sprinkled in there.  While brushing her teeth, I overheard Lydia say to Shay, “Tomorrow, we’ll have all new boxes!  We just have to wait through the night.”

Here’s a photo of the workboxes.  We purchased these at the Ikea in Singapore and hauled them over on the ferry on one of our modern-day hunting and gathering trips. I must satisfy the beast.  And by that, I mean both of the beasts.  They won’t ever stop bickering until they both get what they want.  Organization, fun, scheduling and adventure!

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4 responses to “The Battle Rages On

  1. Shannon says:

    Love your system! So glad that homeschool is going well – Lydia’s comment is great!

  2. Krisie says:

    Wow, how inspiring. If I ever consider homeschooling I will have to talk more in depth about your system. Great job!

  3. islandsoujourner says:

    Shannon & Krisie– Thank you for loving me enough to read that entire post! You guys are so sweet.

  4. CeeCee says:

    Fascinating! I want to enroll in your school and enjoy the all new workboxes.

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