Trying Something New

In order to help Mushroom with his anxiety about schoolwork, we’re implementing a new system.  We’ve only been at it for a couple of weeks, but I’m hoping it will stick, partly to help Mushroom calm down a little and understand what he needs to get done and partly to keep me on the ball with things I often forget to keep up, like narrations and spelling tests.

I spent more time than I had originally intended in setting all this up (laminating was involved), but I’m hoping it will pay off in helping me keep it going.

First, I covered the blackboard side of our easel with cork tiles, something that was cheap and extremely easy.  We use the whiteboard side all the time, but we haven’t touched the blackboard side in ages.  I labeled one side for Mushroom and the other for BalletBoy.  Then I made a list of all our daily tasks and extrapolated it by the entire week so I could make little slips with each task on them.  Some things, like “history narration” only needed a single copy per child.  Others, such as “One page of Explode the Code” needed a dozen since it’s entirely possible that I would ask them to do two or three pages a day for the whole week.

At the start of the week, I’ll put all the little slips up on the board.  As the kids finish things, they can remove them and stick them back in their little pouches.  It’s my hope that it will help them learn to manage their time a little bit.  I’m going to guide them toward not putting off the things they least want to do until the last day of the week, but I want to leave some of it up to them.  Here’s the start of our second week below.

For the first week of “second grade,” I did put a few math pages up as well as free reading, but everything else was games, puzzles and computer games.  Mushroom was so excited to finish and so thrilled that there was a system that he did his work in the afternoons so he could be finished before his brother.  You can see the last day of our first week of school below.

I’m not sure what the consequences for not getting your work done are, which breaks one of my own parenting rules, but I’d still like to give it a little time and figure it out.  After all, if we get to Sunday and things aren’t finished, I’m not fond of “missing church” as a consequence (though they love Sunday school and choir so much it would be a punishment).  So we’ll see.

3 thoughts on “Trying Something New

  1. My former 8-year old self thanks you profoundly. All through elementary school, I longed for a clear system of tasks and marking them as done. Unfortunately, my mother is just not the systematized type, so all my own attempts to create a system and get her to play along failed.

    So, stick to the system, even when the shiny newness wears off. It certainly would have eased my anxiety at that age. My systems ease my anxiety these days!

    1. If it makes you feel any better, Melissa, I asked for the laminator on a whim for Christmas and was given it because I thought surely there would be millions of things that needed laminating. After all, I know a homeschool dad who laminates everything and it all looks so pretty. But once I had it, I had no idea what to do with it. This is the first time it’s come out.

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