Monday, November 30, 2015

Trying to keep my 15 year old organized

So how do I teach a 15 year old to be organized, when I have a hard time myself???

This is a struggle for me lately.  He is perfectly capable of independent work now, and he is working at grade level in several of his subjects.  So now we have to work on organization more.  Here are a few things that we are doing to help him out.

A few years ago I remember Homeschool workboxes being the rage.  EVERYONE wanted those scrapbook carts ready to go with the neat number system.  A drawer for each subject.  I fell on the bandwagon and bought each of our school-aged kiddos a set, and then realized I needed one for Caty too.  I had a drawer for each subject/activity.  Then we had trouble with storage, so I switched the boys from the large carts to a file folder box.  This worked ok for a while, until their books took up more space than was available.

My next step was that I had a cube shelf that held all their books.  They had a folder on top that held their to-do list and then they were responsible to get their books off the shelf that they needed.  I kept other things in it, like activity books for them and extra reading books.  This has worked for a while.  But I finally decided after some remodeling in our house that I stacks of books were not really working.  On top of the fact that Joey and Brayden kept mixing their books up on the shelves.  they also do not stay in one spot everyday to do their schoolwork.  Sometimes it's the couch, sometimes their room, sometimes even in our office.  So we needed to make their work more portable.

After watching them for a few days, I decided that backpacks was the way to go for all the kids.  They could easily move their schoolbooks around the house or even in the van.  So if we are on a trip or have an appointment, it is easy to grab their bag and go.  The only thing I would need to worry about is grabbing extra pencils/pens or crayons and colored pencils.

We have been doing this for about two months now, and so far it is working.  I still find books that get missed as I am walking through rooms, but I just remind them to go and put it in their backpack.  Everything is then kept in the corner of the living room.

I had been giving the boys a weekly lists of their assignments in a table format that I created in Microsoft Word.  I found that they were not finishing all their work daily.  They would double up on assignments by the end of the week to catch up, and this led to them rushing and not doing the work correctly.  After reading a post about using a spiral notebook for daily assignments, I thought we would give that a try.

I bought them notebooks that had their favorite interests on them, just because I can and it made it more fun!  And I started our journey of this organization method for their schoolwork.

Currently I put individual assignments, group subjects and even include activities we will be going to that day.  If there is a chore he needs to complete, I put that on there too.  Some days it might say, Sweep and Mop the Hallway or Sweep and Mop your bedroom floor.

This method seems to be working really well.  It's been almost two months since we started, and even though he misses a few assignments sometimes, he is getting his work done and even reminding me about group project starting times.

This is how we are teaching Joey to keep himself organized.  I am working my way up to him creating his own to-do list, but I want him to follow this method for a few months until he is used to it.  At that point, then I will hand him the reigns and see how he does on his own.  Since Joey struggles with short-term memory issues, this will be something that we are working on for a little while.

Some links to help you with workboxes and assignment notebooks.....

The many uses of spiral notebooks

If you don't like the spiral notebook ideas, here are some student planners you can print out....

Student planner options

If you haven't heard about workboxes here are some Pinterest links for you to read through.  I do say they are wonderful, especially if you have the space in your home.

Workbox ideas and links

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Do you feel like you are not successful?

We might not admit it in public, but how many of us feel like we are not making a difference?  We spend hours planning out our children's education.  That doesn't count the time we spend teaching them through text and life experiences.  Or the $$$ spent to give them the best individualized education possible.  But at the end of the day we still feel like we are not successful.

I will admit that everyday I wonder if I am making any progress.  Yesterday for example, my freshman level high school student couldn't answer a question about the solar system.  This was a pretty easy, grade school level question.  He was the one I really thought would know the answer.  I sat hiding my disappointment and felt defeated.  I know that he has learning disabilities and was already having an off day, but I really felt like I had failed.

I started thinking about it when we were done with our group projects.  Really, unless he is going to be in astrophysics, will honestly need to know the question I asked him?  Does he really NEED to know the difference between a meteor, meteoroid and a meteorite in order to balance his checkbook and make himself a meal?  No he will not.

Then I looked back when I was very sick a couple weeks ago.  I had a migraine and dizziness so bad that I could not sit up in bed.  I literally had to crawl to the bathroom so that I didn't crash into the wall.  I looked back at the fact he helped his sisters get their dishes they couldn't reach.  He kept an eye on them and checked on me constantly.  They may not have had any home-cooked meals throughout the day, but with his help and some convenience foods, absolutely no one starved.  He stepped up and helped out on our Minecraft server  when I was unable to sit up and even look at the screen.  Even when the kids were rude to him, he held it inside and didn't show how upset he was.

I am always stressing about him now.  He's 15 years old, and I worry about how he will take care of himself in the future.  We have been working really hard at life skills such as cooking, laundry and simple cleaning skills.  I know he can wash dishes and run our laundry equipment.  He can microwave cook, and if it was a self-igniting stove, could make himself a pancake...I think.

We have a long way to go, but we are making our way there.  After looking back on that day, most of my guilt of him not remembering about the solar system disappeared.  He is learning how to take care of himself, and he is a great friend who would do anything for the people he loves.  Who cares about inner/outer planets???

When we start to doubt ourselves, really sit down and look at what you have accomplished.  What are your real goals for your children?  Do you want them to be happy, well-adjusted adults?  Move past all the book work and remember, life skills and good character qualities are just as important as combining sentences and conjugating verbs.

And remember if you hear laughter, then you are successful.   Strive for the smiles and the hugs, that's when you know you have truly reached your goals!!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Winter Bucket List

It's almost that time of the year.  I have to admit, winter is not my favorite season.  I'm with Olaf....I like it warm!!  But to my dismay, I have two children that LOVE the winter.  Caty and Lydia love the snow and all that goes with it.

So I have created a winter bucket list for us to work our way through this season.  

You can download it by simply clicking this link:  Winter Bucket List  

Enjoy and stay warm!!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 25 - We're on a Staycation!!

So we had initial plans and were supposed to be at Disney World this week.  Our plans completely changed over the summer.  We are still planning Disney, just need to wait a bit longer now.  So we have our next vacation planned for there.  This week, we decided to stay home and get a few things done and try to relax a little.  So it was a Daddy is home Staycation.

We did have a few activities we worked on this week.

On Monday it was beautiful weather.  We went to our scout meeting and practiced tying knots.  Caty really wants to learn more, so I am doing research for her to do this in the next couple weeks.

Our meeting was at a park.  Brayden wanted to get out and play.  He had fun swinging.

Then we went to the zoo with daddy.

Being very silly....

We haven't done a recent picture on the elephant.  Look at the difference of 5 years.

We got to see the red panda.

They had a blast on the ice slide.

 Brayden rode an animal on the carousel.  This was HUGE!!!  He always sits on the bench, never on an animal. Even an animal that goes up and down.  It was pretty cool!

The lights were coming on as we were leaving.  Two of Lydia's favorite animals....a bat and a giraffe.

We went through our fall bucket list and realized that we have completed everything!!

We had drawing class this week.  The kids struggled this week.  It was drawing faces.

But then we went and played games and tried laser tag.

We were planning on going with Daddy to New Mexico and Arizona.  So we watched the episodes of Aerial America on these states.  While we were watching, we worked on the scarves for Keep Toledo Warm.  The kids had fun cutting the fringes in these no-sew scarves.

In all I think they finished 40 scarves.

The girls had double gymnastics to make up for them missing a lesson last week when I was sick.  You can see Caty in the back with a block on her head balancing on the beam.

 Caty is so proud to have mastered the splits.

On Friday we visited a hidden gem in our community.  A few weeks ago they had a special on a local discount site for a family membership.  We finally went.  The National Museum of the Great Lakes was packed full of information.  We were very impressed.

The kids had fun with all the hands-on exhibits.

Then it was off to archery.

On Saturday Lydia had riding.  She was so proud of learning and practicing her cantering.  She did wonderful!

We got our first snow of the season.  Caty was in Love!!!  She threw a snowball at the door.

We had family visiting, and it turned into an impromptu sleepover.  It was nice to spend time with Joe's sister and her family.  The kids played outside for a long time.  They built a snowman together.

We had a nice week.  We stayed plenty busy and had fun together.

Hope everyone had a wonderful week.  Getting ready to get back to lessons next week!!