Saturday, April 20, 2013

Organizing Our Daily Work: One Workbin instead of a stack of Workboxes

I would like to take a minute to show you how I organize my kid's daily work. I've come up with a simple system that's working like a charm, and taking up very little space!

My kiddo has between 8 and 9 subjects to complete each day (I know that sounds like a lot, but each one only takes 10-15 minutes to complete). But I needed to get all those subjects organized and prepared, and I wanted the kiddo to be somewhat responsible for doing his own work. I know he's only 5; I still have to sit with him at the table and do practically everything with him, but I'm sure he'll get more independent as he grows and I want to encourage that. I looked around on the internet and many people are using some variation of Sue Patrick's workbox system. I love the idea of it, and how it organizes everything, but it takes up a lot of space for all those boxes! My homeschool storage space is a china cabinet in one (small) corner of our (small) combined living room/dining room. It's my only spot for homeschool stuff, so there was no way to fit a stack of workboxes in. I also have two more children who would need their own workboxes eventually, so whatever I came up with had to fit in a small space!

So this is what I came up with: "work folders" stacked into a "work bin." We have one bin for "to do" (on the left) and another for "done" (on the right). I got these cute bins at Staples ($9.99 ea) and they're just the right size. The folders in the "to do" bin are stacked one on top of the other in order from first subject to last. Each folder is labeled and has an image representing the subject, since he can't read all the subject names yet. I printed out some cute clip art for labels and taped it to the folder with packing tape, covering it so it can't fall off or get dirty. I put workbooks, worksheets, and flash cards--whatever we need for our lesson--in the folders. Books and binders don't fit in the folders, so if there's one to use with the lesson I just place it under the folder. The labeled folders then function as dividers. Any books, binders, craft supplies, etc that are under the folder but on top of the next are used with the top folder's lesson.  I also threw together some bookmarks so I can mark where in the book he needs to start. Then he puts it back in where he leaves off so it's ready to go for the next day.

We go through the folders in order, and the order is the same every day. I think that helps with building habits, and knowing what is coming next helps eliminate some griping.  He is required to go get the folder on top of the stack (and any accompanying books) and bring it to the table to work with me. When we're finished he goes and puts everything away in the done bin. This lets him see how much more he has to do, and gives him a sense of accomplishment as he puts each folder into the done bin. He knows he's done when the last folder is complete. The folders also help with some of the complaining because it is not so much me telling him what to do. Instead he sees it as "that's what's in the folder, so that's what I have to do." He actually loves most of his lessons, but handwriting elicits groans!

Eventually I will replace all the paper folders with these heavyweight poly folders. They're tough and should last a long time no matter what I stuff into the pockets.

Handwriting Without Tears workbook, and some lined paper to write his name.

We sometimes do an internet-based lesson, so in order to put those lessons in the folders, I printed out each online curriculum's logo, laminated it, and I attach it to the folder with a clip or just stick it in the pocket. When the kiddo sees the logo, he knows it's time to go to the laptop. I did the same thing with an ebook we use; I just printed and laminated an image of the cover.

I load the folders after school is done, or before bed. It doesn't take much time, because I've already filled out a weekly planner sheet with the chapters and activities we need to do. And most of the subjects are the same every day, so I don't even have to reload those folders. It's a simple system, but it is working very well. The kiddo knows what he needs to do, and he knows what's coming next. And if I want to I can put a fun activity as a surprise in one of the folders. So that's what we're doing; I hope you find it helpful!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Our Huge New Family Bed

Today our new bed was delivered! It is a California king, and now we have two California Kings in one bedroom (luckily we have a large bedroom!). Since birth our first child has flat-out refused to sleep in his own bed (even within the same room), so we have always had a family bed. Now with two children in the bed and another on the way (and a very tall daddy and a plus-size mommy) we were out of room. We decided to go all out and get another Cali king since we had the space. We asked the mattress delivery guy to tie the legs of the two frames together for us, and now we have the hugest bed ever! It is 7 feet long and a full 12 feet wide. Right now we will have 4 people sleeping in the bed, but when the new baby arrives in August it will be 5.

 We put the bed with one side against the wall. This is where I'll sleep, with the new baby between me and the wall, so he can't fall off the bed or get squished by one of his brothers. Then the boys will sleep in the middle, and Daddy will go on the left side. If the boys fuss about who gets to sleep next to Mama, they can take turns, sleeping one night closer to Dad and one night closer to me.

We put separate bottom sheets on each mattress. There is a crack between them, but they're pushed pretty tightly together, so it's not going to be an issue. I even laid down right on the crack and it was soft and not bothersome at all (yay for pillow-tops). Anyway, can you see me sewing and washing 12 foot wide sheets? I don't think so. Nobody will have to sleep on the crack, but if they roll over there they'll still be comfortable. We have an assortment of blankets and/or top sheets so that everyone can have their own. In the morning we'll just fold all these up and place them at the foot of the bed. That is how beds are made in China, where my husband is from, and it will work perfectly for us with this big bed.

One nice thing is I am able to get three long underbed storage bins under the end of the bed (you can just see one under the right side in the pic above), and one on the side, so that's where I'm putting stuff like wrapping paper, baby things, and the craft supplies I don't want to share with the kids. Yay for storage, especially since the bed takes up so much space. And yes, we actually still have room for other things in the room besides the bed (told you we have a big room). We also have two dressers, a big tv, two desks, a changing table, a treadmill, and a bookcase in there.

So that's our super family bed! It will be great to sleep comfortably and to see the kids so blissfully sleeping snuggled close to us. And as far as the kids are concerned, it's a great place to play. So far they're enjoying bouncing, having pillow fights,  and turning somersaults on it. So what do you think? Would you ever try a bed like this?