Tuesday, August 18, 2009

first & second days of school

So we started "back" to school yesterday. (I put back in " " because we really only took a week off from doing anything...we had a lighter schedule in the summer, but as Noodle needed to improve her reading skills, we kept with a lot of phonics instruction and did math on occasion, too). I opted to go with a workbox approach this year. I'll get some pictures up at the end of the week. Thus far, it has been a BIG success with the kids, which is great. I'm certain it will take less time and effort from me as I get the hang of it. Honestly, it's Spud's workbox that takes a little more thought, as he mostly just needs activities that have a loose tie-in to academics. They don't really even need that, but it's nice. He has really liked using his workbox, though, and it forces me to be engaged with him instead of just sending him off to do his "computer school" or entertain himself for the 2ish hours I'm doing school with Noodle. So, while I feel pretty wiped out at the end of school time, I feel like it is productive and enjoyable. I'll keep working on coming up with ideas for the workboxes and hopefully that will cut down on the prep time for me. I'd like to have a sort of rotation for him where he has some types of activities he does every week, and then only 2-3 variable ones each day. As it is now, I feel like I'm trying to come up with 9 fresh things every day. Though we do have his phonics instruction/review, his computer time, and "A Label A Day" everyday, so that's three down out of nine.

One minor frustration has been that Noodle was disappointed that Math was part of the workbox, as she thought the workbox was supposed to make school fun. It's funny that she seems to have an aversion to math, as it seems to come quite easily to her. I've been reading up on right brained learners and I have to wonder if it isn't the effort of getting the answers from her head down on to the paper that makes it so tedious for her. So for the second page of math today we did it mostly verbally and I didn't require her to write down the answers. I think I'll try that with her everyday and see if it helps.

Her reading is really improving. I got this primer (and the later books) for her, and I think it is a great book. It had received quite high reviews, and I think it lives up to them. What is nice is that the stories are REAL stories, and likely ones the child is familiar with. There is a lot of repetition, so once the child figures out the words, they have a lot of opportunity to practice them. Plus, with so many words on each page, it feels like they are really reading a story. So, I've been impressed. I've also been printing out a coloring page for her to do after each story, which I think she enjoys. I need to figure out a way to incorporate more art in our week. Mostly, I think I just need to figure out a way to have a bit more energy. I was wiped out after today. I actually had to take a little nap.


Whitney said...

Mindy, how do the workboxes work, do you put stuff in there for them each day/week? Is it for each subject so they just work through the folders? Where did you get the idea? Thanks for this blog, you have some great ideas!

mindy said...

Sorry I only just saw this message!! I'll reply here, and then email you some links.

I fill the workboxes every day. You can split up the subject if there is a different "assignment" for each subject. The goal is just to have one "task" per workbox. So if Noodle is going to read a story, then the book is in one folder. If she is going to color a picture or draw a picture about the story, then that is in the following folder.

I got the idea from people on the Well-Trained mind forum, and they got it (originally) from http://www.workboxsystem.com/ though people have been doing it in some version for a while, I guess, on their own. Mine is a lot different from the "official" one, but I don't want to take up that much room with real boxes for each assignment and child.

I've cut Spud's workbox down to 6/day, which seems about right for now. Noodle almost always has 12, except for Fridays. I'll email you some other links that I got my ideas for "modified" workboxes from.