Monday, January 4, 2010

Spring Semester Begins

I was so excited to start school today with the kiddos!! I'd taken some time during our very relaxed Christmas break to plan, think, make some changes, create some new systems, and just get plain excited about learning and hanging out with my kids again. SO FUN!!

Here are the top 7 changes I've made to make the spring 2010 semester of my family's life AMAZING!!!

Change #1: New family wake up time!! I'm not much of a morning person...I really like my sleep, and need 8 good hours at night to keep me happy and awake. I've actually been trying to get myself up earlier to study, and have a few hours on my own before the kids wake up...but the thought of getting my kids out of bed early (when I could have a few more minutes of peace and quiet) just about killed me. However, it was time to just do it...and I know our family will be blessed. Today was our first day, and I think we did pretty good. We started devotional at 7:05, ate breakfast right after, did our morning chores, and started school at 8:30. I guess there is something to the saying 'Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise."

Change #2: MORE BOOKS!! With 6 kids its important to be prepared...I've been getting better, but I felt like with this new year it was time to step up my game a bit. So I requested books from the library that go along with what we're studying in history. Then I looked on a Charlotte Mason list and in the Read Along Handbook for books that my 4 and 6 year old would enjoy having read aloud to them, and requested a few from the library for me to read to them during school time and during their 1 hour of quiet room/reading time. Then I looked for books that would be fun to listen in the car. Then I realized I needed books from my 7 and 10 year old to read and/or listen to during their 1 hour of quiet reading/room time so I found some books for that. Then I thought about evening or bedtime books. I'd need two, one for my little boys, and one for my older kids. I ended up requesting over 50 books from the library. I picked up 15 today, and its been SO AMAZING!!! (I have 35 more coming.) We started reading/listening to Pinochio during our Mom story time, and I'm all set for the older kids to listen/read The Cay during their quiet room/reading time tomorrow. And I started reading the Trojan War to the older kids tonight for their bedtime book and they loved it!! I LOVE BOOKS!!

Change #3: A Family Binder!! I've wanted to create something like this for years, but for some reason never got around to it. Its seemed overwhelming, and I didn't think I could make it perfect. So, I finally decided what the doesn't need to be perfect...I just need to start somewhere. So over Christmas break I started putting something together that could hold everything we needed to make our family AMAZING.

First I had to figure out what it was that would make our family amazing. I came up with the following things (so far):
  • A Family Mission Statement
  • A Family Theme
  • A List of Monthly Scriptures we wanted to memorize as a family that went along with our theme for the year.
  • A Family Standard that spelled out what our family does and does not do and why these things are important to us.
  • A Family Default Schedule for the next Semester
  • A list of the books we are reading or going to read for the next month or so.
  • A place for our goals as a family.
  • A place for our goals as individuals.
  • A place for our mentor meeting reports
  • A place for our family meeting agendas and notes
I presented the binder and its contents to the family at a special New Year Eve candlelight dinner on Saturday. The food was simple, but the impact was HUGE. My kid's whispered the entire time, and haven't stopped asking when we're going to do it again. I think we're going to start doing a candlelight dinner once a month to celebrate our accomplishments for the month!! Oh...I'm excited already!! Now only if I was a better cook. :)

Change #4: School Time and Quiet Time Toys!! A lot of my friends have figured this one out...but not me. FINALLY I have learned that everything will run smoother if there are toys that can only be used during quiet time and toys that can only be used during school time. All I can say is...MAGIC!!

We even moved the new kitchen set into our school room, because my little ones stay so happy and busy playing with it in the school room. That way I have time to help my older ones with their stuff. Now everyone is happy.

Change #5: A De-cluttered School Closet!! In order to fit my school and QT toys into the school closet for safe keeping I had to get rid of some junk. It was like a breath of fresh air when I had open space in the closet for the special toys, activities, and puzzles. I also simplified each kid's school stuff and fit it into one container that they can pull out during school time. I am LOVING IT!!!

Change #6: Green Shakes!! In 2010 I wanted to start eating healthier and exercising!! I have to admit I'm terrible at fitting in my daily servings of fruits and veggies. So, Christmas all I wanted was a powerful blender that could make me healthy Green Shakes. Thanks to a wonderful husband my Christmas wish came true. Scott and I are loving the new green shakes, but the only kids that have given my new green creations a shot are Cooper and Becca!! Rebecca helped herself to my shake this morning and LOVED it. Isn't she cute?!

Change #7: A Customized Daily To Do Plan!! This I know seems super simple, but I was creating more of a weekly plan last semester, and this semester I've tweaked it, and have decided to take a few minutes each night, and type up a customized plan for each child. I could do it once a week for each day of that week like I was trying to do before, but I'm not that organized yet.

It was great to have it for today, and then when I created my Tuesday plan tonight I was able to think about exactly what was going on tomorrow, what house work needed done, and where we left off in school so that their sheets for tomorrow really reflect what we need to do tomorrow.

I am super excited about taking it a day at a time. I've planned what I want to accomplish this semester, and gotten the materials I need in my house, or have requested them from the library. However, I like planning the specifics on a day to day basis, I think it will help me work out the details so I actually accomplish my year long plan.


Jess the photographer behind the lens at JWilsonPix said...

lol.. all I can say is wow... I thought you guys were doing so awesome over there before.... =)

SOunds like you have a fresh outlook and lots of good things going....cant beat that!!

Nanette said...

You continue to inspire me! I really appreciate your creative ideas for having a house of order!! Blessings as you continue

Anonymous said...

So awesome!!! We've been similarly de-cluttering and re-focusing our daily efforts. Thanks for sharing!

The Greevers Posse said...

These are some wonderful ideas you've listed.
Thanks for sharing them with the rest of us who continue to struggle. ;)
It always helps to get another's perspective on things.