Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Chaos Before the Storm: Organizing Homeschooling Resources, or Where is Loonette the Clown When I Need Her?

This is one of my favorite times of year, when I sort through the resources I've gathered over the previous year in preparation for the coming one.

This is also one of my least favorite times of year, because I'm sorting through the resources I've gathered over the previous year in preparation for the coming one.

It's a chaotic mess that is surrounding me, one that is so overwhelming I feel tempted at times to box it all up and head to the local elementary and middle schools with enrollment forms in hand.

But not really.

What is making it easier this year is my determination to get rid of anything that looks, smells, walks, or talks like a textbook. I'm keeping a few reference books, but only a few. After all, living books and games are much more likely to leave a lasting impression on a child's mind than a dry anthology.

Going the unit study route is helping with this task. Although right now, the chore of organizing this big mess seems daunting, my system is actually starting to fall into place. Instead of having resources shelved according to "class," I'm shelving them according to "unit." In other words, instead of having things grouped under science, geography, art, and the like, I'm placing everything I will use during our study of Ancient Mesopotamia in one area; everything for use in learning about Ancient Egypt in another. There are two advantages to this system. First, everything I need to plan the entire unit is in one spot. Second, I only have to go to one area to grab the resources we need for a particular day.

Getting there is the battle. Too bad it doesn't work as quickly for me as it does for Loonette the Clown.


Wendy Hawksley said...

Oh my gosh, I went through that last week. Even though we don't start until September, I wanted everything in order... I sat on the floor surrounded by piles of paper and books. CHAOS!

It worked out well. Even though I felt like a deer in headlights at first, I managed to weed out a whole bunch of stuff that we wouldn't use.

Oddly enough, I'm the opposite. I gave away the unit study resources to someone local, and we're using old (used - given to us as freebies) textbooks this year.

How funny is that?

Hope you get organized to your satisfaction!

Bleu said...

Wendy, that's funny! We have tried just about every style one can think of in regard to homeschooling. Some people feel that's not a healthy approach, but I can see that my kids enjoy the different methods, and I think it actually helps prepare them for dealing with a variety of styles when they reach the university level and begin their careers.

It really is liberating to get rid of things I know we won't use this year. I think we all enjoy that particular part of the process!

JJ Ross said...

Oh I loved Loonette and the Couch. As your homeschooled kids outgrow these shows, you may find (as I did) that mom really misses them!

Bleu said...

JJ, my kids have long ago outgrown them, but thank goodness for my godson, who is nearly two. I recently introduced him to the Couch and he is in love.

JJ Ross said...

But Bleu, you look so beautifully youthful yourself. :)

So you're saying all I have to do to get these shows back, is encourage impregnation of someone close to me who will then trust me with said fruits all day, hmmm. . . . mentally making a list of candidates. . .
thanks for the idea!

Bleu said...

It would be much simpler to just watch the show under the guise of 'research.' ;)

Dan said...

I was happy to discover your blog today. I was unable to find a contact link. I hope it's OK that I'm contacting you through a public comment. I've developed an educational program for Windows called SpellQuizzer that helps children learn their spelling and vocabulary words without the battle that parents often have getting them to sit down and write them out while the parents dictate to them. The parent enters the child's spelling words into the software making a sound recording of each word. Then the software helps the child practice his or her words. It really helped my children with their weekly spelling lists.

I would appreciate your reviewing SpellQuizzer in The Little Red Homeschool. If you are interested in hosting a giveaway of a SpellQuizzer license I'd be happy to supply a free license to the winner. You can learn more about the program at http://www.SpellQuizzer.com. There's a video demo you can watch at http://www.spellquizzer.com/SpellQuizzer-Demo.htm and a community site where SpellQuizzer users can share their spelling lists with one another (http://www.SpellQuizzer.com/Community). Finally, there's a page targeted to homeschooling families at http://www.spellquizzer.com/spelling-software-for-homeschoolers.htm. I'd be happy to send you a complimentary license for the software. Please let me know if you are interested.

Thank you very much!

Dan Hite
TedCo Software

JJ Ross said...

Gee Dan -- the alternative is, the kids could just READ! Now-in-college (as an English major who'd won writing awards) Favorite Daughter is a fabulous speller because she loves words, not because someone sold me a license to train and quiz her with.

(I didn't train her in grammar either or make her write papers. Yes, I ended the previous paragraph with a preposition and it was INTENTIONAL!)

Bleu said...

Hi Dan,

I appreciate your offer, but I am going to have to say no, for several reasons.

First, I really just want to share my thoughts and experiences with secular homeschooling with others. I really don't want to become a 'mommy blogger' so I don't plan on reviewing products here unless it's of my own volition because I really like or dislike something I've already tried.

I've seen blogs where people review products in a positive light, and receive some form of compensation for their thoughts, be it financial, free product, or publicity. In some cases, I have seen the reviewer admit on their personal blogs to not actually liking the product that much, but feeling obligated to only point out the positive aspects because of the compensation. Needless to say, I find this practice distasteful.

So that's my stance on product reviews. However, I also want to tell you that my personal preference for children to learn spelling is through reading. Although we have used a spelling program in the past, I have found that all of my kids have a terrific grasp of spelling just from the sheer amount of reading they do. Of course there are words they do not always instinctively know how to spell, but I just show them the proper spelling instead of making it a separate 'subject.' Usually, once is enough.

Not everyone agrees with this philosophy, however, so I'm sure you will be able to find many other people who are willing to review your product. Best wishes to you!