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Friday, June 13, 2014

NEW 2014-2015 School Calendars

NEW 2014-2015 School Calendars are now available for FREE on our website.

Portrait and Landscape views to replace the outdated 2013-2014 School Calendar. Don't follow the school year? We'll be offering traditional calendar year calendars as well.

Coming Soon!

We are adding several different calendar options to our popular Freedom Educators Homeschool Planner for the 2014-2015 school year. We are adding a couple of monthly calendars and a few different styles of yearly calendars to aide families in tracking yearly attendance and basic planning.

How do I use the Yearly Calendar?

One popular use of the yearly calendar is a simplified attendance. We circle the days that the children are actively pursuing education. We also write in our annual breaks and notes if a child is sick or otherwise "absent" in the notes sections of our current Portrait and Landscape yearly calendars.

Why would I need a monthly calendar?

Some find it easier to look at a monthly in order to plan the basic outings and scheduled classes or events. The monthly calendar may also be used for attendance and planning.

Should I plan by days, weeks, months, or years?

That is really up to your personal needs. However, we find that for documentation purposes having a yearly attendance and closing out your year by the school year is most preferred by those who are accountable to someone in their state or for those who want the peace of mind of having records "just in case". Monthly planning is useful for unit studies, planning outings and events, as well as to see how your month flows.

Weekly planning is probably the most important planning tool possible. This is easily managed with our several styles of weekly planners. With weeks, it is a small enough chunk of planned time to make changes quickly and to track reporting of your older Love of Learners and Scholar Phase children. Plus, it is mighty handy for the adult navigating these phases of their education as well. In fact, most families report that the planner was more useful to them as parents than they thought it would be for their own education.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Systems: Family Work

I love a clean house! Doesn't everybody? What I don't love is pleading, threatening, and cajoling to get children to love having a clean house as much as I do.

Nor do I love cleaning up after all my little piggies without them lifting a finger. Nope. Not an option at our house. Hiring a maid is also not an option, which I think is detrimental to family development anyway (unless you have extenuating circumstances, like new baby, bed-ridden, or health issues that prevent a family from being able to do their own cleaning).

Finding the right system for our home has gone through a few levels of changes over the years. When my children were very small, they loved to pick-up toys while we sang the "Clean-up Song" from Barney.

Eventually their keen little minds realized cleaning was not a game, but was actual work! Oh the shame of it all! Mom tricked us into working!

We have a few systems that I've posted about before:

We are still using the Cleaning Calendar mentioned in "New Plan - Check!" I really love rotating the monthly, weekly, and daily cleaning through my digital to-do list on the Freedom Educators Evernote Template now with the Daily Planner to keep track of meals, appointments, to-do list, and family work.

Daily Planner - Meals and Appointments

Daily Planner - To-Do List and Family Work

I love Fly Lady even though it can be a little overwhelming at first. Starting off on the right foot with some of her simply techniques for getting it all done has helped me a ton. Check out her Baby Steps first.

One idea from her website that I've used extensively is the Zone principle. Each child is assigned a "Zone" for the week. They have to check their Zones several times a day. 

In each Zone is also a detailed cleaning list of what is supposed to be cleaned or checked daily and a list for weekly. I put the list in a clear protector sheet and tape it to the inside of a cabinet or the back of a closet door.

I adapted Fly Lady's list to be specific for each zone (and how the kids use it) and also for the age of the children who will be doing the cleaning. When my children were really young, I had a simple picture list of what to clean.

A couple of free ideas online:

Multiple Kids in One Zone

We have a buddy system with older children training younger ones. Mentoring younger children in how to do family work is a must. If you don't have enough kids, think about borrowing some.

No! I'm not kidding! Once a month give your children a chance to mentor or be mentored by other kids.

We have a "Littles Checklist" and a "Bigs Checklist". The Littles do things like pick-up toys, put small trash bags in the larger can in the kitchen, wipe off cabinets, etc.

Check out these Littles cleaning...

Matching Socks, One of Their Favorite Things

The Bigs can help the Littles learn how to do chores and/or do the big things themselves. I sometimes divvy up the list to help the Bigs learn when a child is ready to learn a new skill.

Since we are a foster family, children come to us with varying abilities even though they may be the same age. We adapt and help them learn. We do not assume they know anything, yet we are always amazed at how quickly they come to like working with the family. Even children that are emotionally damaged and have never cleaned before find new excitement and achievement as they learn to be part of the family and work together. For many of them, working together is a completely new idea.

Worried your kids will rebel? Well...they might.

The key is to talk about "family work" and not "chores". Family work is everyone chipping in to make our house run smoother and have everything ready for the next time we use it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Systems: Academic Journaling

How do I journal? What should it look like? What goes into the journal? Should I go "old school" paper or "new wave" digital? (See more on digital journaling at the bottom of this article.)

These are very good, but also very personalized questions. One person loves lists and bullet style notes, while another loves to write in complete sentences with perfect punctuation and paragraphs that read like a good novel.

A person may start in their early years with one of two sentences about a book and end up in Scholar and Depth Phase writing a short thesis. Or, a student may be a combination of the two with bullet style notes for quotes and topics you want to remember from an informational book and longer, paragraph style reviews of books for sharing on a venue like Goodreads. (A link to my Goodreads reviews.) just really depends on you...your preferences and where you are in the Phases of Learning.

People are always looking for examples. I do to! I like to see examples. So, here are some from my personal journals.

My Journals - Depth Phase

Just a few...

Right now, I am using 4 regular journals and a couple of "item specific" journals, all of them numbered. I am also making a master list of what is included in each journal. Rachel DeMille says that they leave a few pages blank in the front of each journal to add a table of contents as they fill up the journal. I didn't start out that way and so I created the master list in a blank notebook and list the journal # and page number of each item.

I started with the Master List as part of my binder (back when it was a short list), but moved it to it's own spiral notebook when it started getting pretty thick. I also need to print all of my book reviews on Goodreads and keep them in a binder for the day when technology ends (depends on your point of view here to if you feel this is necessary).

A list of my current journals:

  1. Fiction reading
  2. Non-fiction reading
  3. Religious reading
  4. Mentoring - "Student Whisperer Journal"
  5. Food Storage & Emergency Preparedness
  6. Marriage (I have a small notebook that I have recorded specific things about being a better wife and mother.)
  7. Everyday life - personal journal
I have a mixture of how I record my reading epiphanies. 

I have some bullet style lists of quotes and topics I want to remember from the book.

Quotes from "The Jackrabbit Factor"

I have details of answers to exercises...

"Student Whisperer" exercises

I have full book reviews, many of which I duplicate on Goodreads.

I have diagrams of topics discussed...

Notes from a lecture on Child Development &
Foundations of Great Education

Digital Journaling

Technology has a lot to offer as well. I personally use Evernote and I have also used SpringPad. Both are free and come in PC and App formats. Both have unique things to offer. For journaling purposes, I find that Evernote has the most to offer, which is why I developed the Freedom Educator Planner Templates. The planner includes forms for book reviews, lecture notes, etc.

Evernote also prints nicely if you wish to print hard copies for future use or storage.

Evernote - Books Read 2013
I keep a list of books read by year and then add tags for the topic of the book. My reviews are copied from what I write in Goodreads, saving me a step in copy-and paste.

I also keep notes of other topics, especially website information that is hard to convey into a paper notebook.

Evernote - Curriculum Plans and Notes on Books we are studying

However, using a digital system can be in any method you wish. Any software that allows for typing up the information you want to store will work.

The beauty of systems is YOU decide what works for you and just start recording your information. It is not hard and it does not take a long time. Just start something and adjust as you learn what you like and what works for you. There is no right or wrong...just progressing and growing.

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