A Week in A+ Academy - Our Homeschool -
I have been homeschooling my own four children for six years. This past year I had three; one in third, second, and pre-kindergarten. My early elementary kids are ages 4, 7, and 8. As a former classroom teacher I have found that juggling a multi-age small group home-classroom is a challenge and a delight.
To keep things running smoothly, each child has an assignment book. I list all of the lessons we will complete each day for each individual so they can check them off and feel successful. If they are expected to do the activity independently, like handwriting practice, I mark it with a capital letter 'I', for items that need to be with me I put a 'T' for together. This
way they can clearly see what to work in when I am busy with their brother or sister.
To motivate everyone to stay on task, my kids earn Edu-bucks. Short for 'Education Bucks', this school time money is used to buy privileges within the family. Our children can save up and spend the money in various ways: the right to pick the movie we may watch on a Friday night together, or they can choose to be served juice with dinner (instead of water), pick the lunch menu for a day, skip a spelling test, five minutes extra recess, play video games during recess, or extra video game time on the weekend.
Each month there is a new way to earn Edubucks. Basically it is a sticker chart on the wall. Starting at 10 AM each hour, on the hour I give a sticker to all children who have been on task for the past hour of school time. One of my kids is assigned the job of clock monitor. It is their responsibility to tell me to check Edubuck stickers for that hour. This keeps me consistent.
For September we put stickers on apples, 25 stickers can be exchanged for one Edubuck. In October we use leaves or pumpkins. November are turkey feathers,December is a candy cane where the stripes are colored in instead of stickers.January we use snowmen placing on a carrot nose, black coal for 2 eyes, 5 for the mouth, a vest, a scarf, and 3 buttons, and 2 boots and two sticks for hands. This is only 17 but, it's fun to be generous sometimes. For February we put heart stickers on old valentines, and in March we color in the parts of a leprechaun or gold coins in a pot. For April, Easter time, we design Easter eggs, coloring in a stripe or dot to fill it in. May is flower petals on a garden of flowers for spring time, and June we have a sunshine made from a paper plate and we add rays around the plate, only ten, because we do school for only half of the month.
I also want to reward excellence in academics so I have a SOE (Standard of Excellence) chart on the wall. Each child has a row on this chart. When they achieve90% or more correct on an assessment, spelling, math, reading comprehension, science or social studies, or they do an over the top job on a project, I award anSOE sticker. When 20 stickers are earned, they receive a funny pen. I pick upcreative pens at our local Dollar Store.
A typical week includes five days of instruction and schoolwork, Monday through Friday. Before we begin each morning my children are required to be dressed, have eaten breakfast, completed their morning chores, and have a snack set out on the kitchen counter for our 10:15 break.
At 8:30 we meet at the Teaching Corner in our living room. This special area is set up with a calendar on the wall, a large Reading Tree bulletin board, a chair basket, a CD player, a keyboard, a white board, some snuggly pillows and a comfy carpet. The children sit on the carpet while I begin our day from the chair. A typical day starts with a look at the calendar. Each child has a turn to place a shape on the calendar for the current day and announce 'Today is _______________' stating the month, weekday, and date. Then we move on to our goals for the day, discussing what we finished the day before and how the current learning should progress.
After deciding the important things to accomplish that day we begin grammar. Using our leveled grammar workbooks, each of my children tell the group which rule they are working on in punctuation, capitalization, and other grammatical skills. Since each child's book is geared toward their grade level, it is a review for the older children, and a sneak peek at the future for younger children.
After our grammar learning session, the kids are dismissed from the Teaching Corner to various activities either at the center table, or their desk. For reading, one child reads to his younger(preK) brother, while the other works with me on their current reading story. Together at the white board I go over skills for the reading selection and assign a work page or activity to practice that skill. Then I am able to listen in on the reading in our reading corner. I then switch, one child reads or plays a flashcard game with their younger brother, while the other works one on one with me.
Two to three days a week we do computer time. My younger three work on online activities that go with their stories while I work with my older elementary child on various vocabulary and spelling activities. The other days we make crafts and projects relating to the theme of the stories we are reading, the season of the year, or a current holiday. Before we know it, it is time for morning snack break! At 10:30 we all take a fifteen minute break. Everyone eats the snack that they picked out earlier and runs around the backyard for a bit.
After snack break we begin our math studies. Sitting at the center table we review our current skills to be mastered using counting blocks, geoboards, flashcards and other manipulatives. Then my kids work on their practice pages. We check their answers together.
We take lunch at noon. After lunch we do Children's Hour, this is when I do read aloud books, we read our history lessons and social studies activities, and doscience experiments. Throughout the day if my kids are done with their current work, they can add to their personal scrapbook. They start the school year with a blank spiral scrap book. They decorate each page with snippits of things they've been learning. We photocopy special poems, or glue in photos. We also put in ticket stubs from field trips or family outings.
After 2:30 we wrap up for the day. Twice a week we prepare for Tae Kwon Do class which meets from 3 - 4 pm. And Thursdays we have piano lessons.
Fridays are a low key day, to wrap up the week. We spend more time on projects, to get them completed, we add on to our scrapbooks, and we select papers or assignments that we think really represent their best learning. We place these assignments in a three ring binder that I affectionately have labeled their BRAG books. BRAG stands for Best Reflection of Academic Growth. This makes a portfolio for their work. They can quickly see how their writing and performance has improved over the months of school.
To add a little pizazz to our homeschool year I add fun days to our calendar! We have Crazy Hat Day, Pajama Day, Inside-Out Day, and Favorite Color Day throughout the year. On these days, even I participate. We take photos and put them in our school scrapbooks.
We love our homeschool room and our weekly activities!
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