Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Schedule

Normally I wouldn't post about our schedule because, well, we never really had one. Recently, along with all me organizing my kids school work and all my projects I thought, "Hey! Self! Yeah you! You should really implement a schedule so your kids don't turn out to be lazy couch potatoes and end up living with you for the rest of their lives!" So, I decided I would see what would work for us.

Granted I have tried schedules before but we just never stuck with them... I think I am seeing a pattern in my life here with me not sticking to things.... I digress... so, I thought about WHY I have trouble with schedules and why i don't stick to things and it turns out, I am lazy! What is that you say? How in the @%$# are you  lazy? You have 7 kids and homeschool them and do all kinds of projects! Lazy isn't a possibility! Well, my friend it is. You see, I can stick to something if I enjoy it but if I get bored, meh, I stop doing whatever it is.

I realized that my kids are watching me and I was not setting the type of example that I wanted them to see. So, I stepped it up. I made a schedule. I used the idea from Managers of Their homes (never read the book)  I just Googled the images and scoured Pinterest until I found something I thought might work.

Now, we are not sticking to this strictly because, well, life happens. It is more of a general outline and so far it works. During school hours I let my kids set their own schedules. They got to pick when they did each subject and how long they thought it would take them. now, everyday is a bit different from the actual schedule but if we start to get off track I can say, "What are you supposed to be doing?" And my kids go look and follow the schedule. It is really nice to have and for the past month it has been working pretty well.

Here are some close ups of the schedule.

Hopefully this will keep working for us!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Homeschool Rewards

My kids needed some nudging and perhaps some pushing and shoving to get them to do their schoolwork. I came up with a fun way to keep them motivated  and so far they LOVE the system. We have been using it for more than 2 months and it is working!! Whoooo!!!!

These are their "ticket" jars. Every day that they complete their school work they get a ticket. When they save so many tickets they can use them to buy things. For example, 4 tickets gets them a date with mom or dad to the dollar theater. 10 tickets gets them a date with mom or dad to the full priced theater. You can use 6 for a trip to the store to spend $3.

This is what the tickets look like. I have to date them and write their names on them. That way they can't "fake" tickets.

To make this, I used some old fence boards and screwed them together. then I mounted the pipe fitting thingamajiggers to the boards with a screw. I tightened them to fit around the jars and viola! I cut slits in card stock and placed them in the lids so they could just drop their tickets in and their names were cut out with my Silhouette.

Have I mentioned I love making things?

Chore System

Oh chores, how I loathe them....ok, not all of them, I loathe having to nag and beg and plead to get my kids to DO them! After years and years of trying every most of the systems out there I finally settled on one I came up with a few years ago that worked. In fact it worked every time we used it. I don't know why I ever stopped. Oh wait, I do know. I saw all these other colorful chore systems and they looked FUN! Mine is not colorful or fun, but it works.

These are my kids chores cards. The numbers on the cards are for the days of the week. 1 = Monday, 2 = Tuesday, etc. Since we have had these chore cards for awhile some of the chores on the cards don't correspond with the number on the card and my kids know just to ignore that chore. For example, You can see that my daughter Katie has "Do laundry on Wednesday" but the number on the card is 1. She knows it's Monday not Wednesday so she doesn't have to do her laundry. Does that make sense?

These are my Extra Chore cards. I put these on the kids chore rings when I need them done. They don't get anything extra or a reward for doing them, they are just ones that I need rotated between kids and don't need done all the time.

It is simple, not fun, not colorful, but it WORKS and that is all that matters to me!

Workbox System for homeschool

Here it is in all its glory! Ok, so it really isn't fantastic...well, I think it's fantastic, but you don't have to think so. I have been struggling for years with how to organize the kids schoolwork and we have done some systems that temporarily worked but it never even lasted 3 months. In fact they usually only lasted about 4 weeks (or less) but who's counting? Oh right....I am.

I had heard about workboxes for a few years, and I tried a folder system that mimics the workboxes because I didn't have the money to buy 1 box per subject per kid. It didn't last. I kept forgetting to put worksheets and stuff in the folders and if the subject didn't have a worksheet, but instead they had to read...they wouldn't do it.

So, I finally had a meltdown  told my husband that I NEEDED something that worked for us. I had been struggling for years and now that I have a 5 and 3 yo and they are begging to do school with the older kids and my oldest will be starting highs school soon, I needed the organization. So here it is!!

The 3 orange boxes and 1 green box are my kids Science. They are SRA Science Labs that I got years ago. The top right cubby holds teachers manuals and my binder that has our yearly schedule and other important stuff. All the white bins hold more teachers manuals and manipulatives. I had to hid the lower stuff from my 18 mo old so he wouldn't pull everything off the shelves. The kids chore cards and daily schedules hang on command hooks. I will explain these later in this post.

Each kid has 8 bins that are numbered and color coded. I added the subject labels on them for my info so I don't mess up which bucket I put what in. Depending on the child, buckets # 7 and  #8 are not labeled because they are "floating subjects" or fun bins. Floating subjects means that the subjects that go in them rotate between electives. So one week might be art, the next week music, the next cooking, etc.

I put everything that the kids will need for the week in the buckets. That means, living books, worksheets, textbook, whatever is needed. I even put the teachers manuals for their math in their bins so that if they have a question they can refer to the lesson in the manual. 

I used my silhouette to cut out the circles and colored flower design. I wrote the numbers on them and laminated them. I put the round velcro dots on them and the buckets. The numbers stay on the left until they are done with the subject, then they move the number to the right side of the bucket. That way with a quick glance I can see who has done what.

These are my kids weekly school charts. I modified the weekly schedule I have been using for years and laminated the charts so I could use wet erase markers on them and plan a whole week at a time.

Each card has the subjects listed and I just write the assignment they have. They like having everything split up into days and they know what to do without feeling overwhelmed with a weekly list. I know, I know,  this  is a weekly list because it has Monday through Friday, but they like having each day on an individual sheet. They don't do every subject everyday, and some kids don't even have all the subjects, I just made a master and photocopied it for all of the older kids.

I keep our manipulatives in the buckets on the shelf so we can grab them when we need them. Easy access for the kids and they know where to put them when they are done.

So there you have it! This is helping my kids become more independent and need me less and less which is AWESOME! I mean, I love helping my kids, but when each one individualy wants me to sit next to them and tell them Every. Single. Step. That is not ok with me. I have other kids to take care of and meals to prepare and my chores that need done. This is the FIRST time I actually think my kids feel responsible for their own work and I can see that they feel more accomplished because they are doing it themselves. My only regret is that I didn't start this YEARS ago. Thoughts or comments?! Let me know!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Laundry Room makeover!

I am so embarrassed to show these pictures, but without them you won't truly see the difference. Don't judge me!  I have been trying to get the laundry room under control for years. So far it has not. gone. well. It seems that any time there is a shirt or towel or any item that needs to go in the laundry basket it instead gets tossed nonchalantly into the laundry room. It's not just dirty stuff either. My kids toss trash, toys, shoes...anything that they want to disappear forever in there! Here is what my laundry room looks like most of the time:

This is what my kids do. Throw EVERYTHING in there. See the pink chair on the bench? That was supposed to be taken to the garage so one of the seat slats could be repaired. Instead it only got as far as the laundry room. 

All these boxes are supposed to be collapsed and taken to the trash can outside! The laundry all over the floor is supposed to go in a basket which should be under the bench!

See all this laundry. It's clean. The kids are supposed to take it out of the dryer and put it on the couch and fold it. Nope. Not my kids. It is WAY easier to just put it here! The stuff up top is some of my extra homeschooling stuff. I need to organize it. I also need to finish this cubby system I built forever ago!

So, here I am looking at my laundry room trying to formulate a plan that will help keep it clean. I look through pinterest and get sad because all the laundry rooms on there are clean and beautiful. I needed a plan. So, I decided that part of the problem is no one really has an assignment on when they should wash their clothes. Many days I tell my kids to get dressed and they tell me they don't have anything clean. So I make them do their laundry right then and there. I realized my problem. There was NO planning or organization! Because I have to be crafty and I can't just print off a checklist I made this awesomely cute laundry chart!

All I needed to add were the kids names (and mine too of course) and then we had a perfectly organized chart for who does their laundry when! 

The next thing I did was um, well, not what my husband expected. First I decided that the cubby system wasn't working how it was supposed to so I tore it out. Of course I did it while hubby was at work...when he came home the laundry room was empty except for the washer and dryer. He was a bit surprised because I had been so excited to put the cubby system in there in the first place.

Next I patched and textured the walls and got them ready to be painted. Then I moved the washer and dryer and realized I had forgotten about the 1 x 1 foot section of the wall that got damaged when we moved in. I had to rip out more of the sheet rock and patch the whole darn thing. Good thing I knew how! Then I painted  the room the same color as my playroom because I had leftover paint and, well, I thought it would go nicely with my red washer and dryer plus I didn't have to go buy more paint!

The 1 x 1 foot section that I had to repair was just below the water lines. See how well the patch job turned out? Pretty good if I say so myself!

I bought an IKEA Expedit shelf off the local classifieds and added workboxes for homeschool (I will post about that separately) because our current school system stopped working. So without further is my new laundry room!

The basket on the right hanging on the wall was a thrift shop find for $4. It is a PBK mail sorter but it works nicely for holding my swiffer  pads, cleaning gloves, and cleaning rags.

There is my lovely IKEA ironing board and my laundry day chart. The clips on the rod to the left of the basket are going to hold a laundry symbol chart.

This is the workbox system for our school. The cabinet to the left holds my laundry soap, and other laundry products.

The laundry room has been finished and working for nearly 2 weeks now and the it is staying CLEAN!!!! That has never happened before! If something is dirty my kids throw it in the blue hamper that you can see to the right. I am so happy that I finally found something that is working for us!! Yipeee!!!!!