When I started thinking about and planning for this school year, I did a little free list making brainstorm on what I would like to see at the end of the year. After writing a page or so of ideas, I went back and started to read and realized that very few of my goals/desires were actually academic. In addition to the deep seeded desire to return to our Montessori roots, I found myself wishing for the boys (and when I say boys, I pretty much always mean the older two...poor Logan) to build their independence and self direction skills.
I took my problem to the principal and head Montessori expert in residence of our little school.
The conversation probably went something like, "Tim the boys are so disorganized. I hate fighting with them and trying to keep track of all the different sets of deadlines. I just want them to be organized. Why can't they just figure it out? Nothing ever works. They can't even keep track of their own notebooks."
Now if you failed to read that in a whiney tone of voice, you should probably go back and try again, I'll wait for you.....
Got it now?
Never one to scoff, and only occasionally offering an eye roll behind my back, he of course had a solution.
"You know when I taught E2 I designed my own planner pages and had them printed, punched, and bound for students to use. They brought them to all of their lessons. I'm pretty sure I still have the documents somewhere."
Of course he does...and that's why they are going to give him the PhD.
With a little digging and a little instruction from Tim on proper usage, we took off on day one of 2013-2014 homeschool adventure with planners in hand.
Two neat little blue covered books for my older boys and one matching purple one for mom.
Inside each week has a two page spread (except the first week). One side is for writing down the plan for the day (4 items for Caleb, 5 for Aidan), and the other side is for flipping ahead and writing down assignments as they are given. So the first week looked like this.
At the end of each lesson (and the planner is required material at all lessons), I have the boys turn to the next week in their planner and write down any assignment I have for them on the left side of the next week. The smaller box is for any days off or special events that week.
When they are making future daily plans they can look ahead and see what is due. My rule is if it is due in two school days and it is not finished they have to write it in their daily plan. After they write their list, they bring it to me for initials so I can double check they are headed in a good direction for the day. Before they start any work in the morning they must complete their planner.
So my thoughts two weeks in...
I'm not sure these bindings are going to hold up all year. I'm wondering if it would have been better to three hole punch the pages and add them to a binder as the year goes on. I might try that in the future.
On the same note, in the original planner design the pages were flipped so the daily plan was on the left and assignments were on the right for the two page spread. Tim just forgot to tell the print shop that so we ended up backwards. It works fine, but I think the other way might have been more natural for writing.
Other than that, I love them.
Having a list before he starts working is really helping Caleb stay focused on schoolwork. I've always known that helped him, but providing one for him had a fair number of downfalls.
Aidan has really impressed me with his ability to look at an assignment due and break it down into smaller chunks and plan his time in advance. He has been writing due dates down and then immediately adding it to his daily plan for some time before then. A couple days he has had his plan done by the end of the previous day. Definitely a huge step in self direction and organization!
I also like that with the boys doing this, I am able to spend time making sure that the younger kids start their day off well. In the past, I would always make them wait while I started the boys because otherwise the boys would just sit and do nothing until I got to them. Now they can just get started on their planner and then once they are finished just bring it to me, wherever I am in the schoolroom, and I can check it off. From there, they know exactly what to do!
Operation Organization is off to an excellent start.
Up next, I try to control the paper....