Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I am attaching here two things I used with the boys to start off our year.


For those of you who know me well, don't fall over when you think of me helping to set goals, although I must say I feel highly inadequate to help anyone set goals. I am not by nature a forward thinking person, yet I am beginning to see the great benefit that we can reap from setting goals. I explained it to the boys like an archer aims at a target, goals give us something to set our sights for - to head towards.

The 'Who Am I?' sheet was adapted from another homeschool mum's idea. (Jessica Fisher at I like the idea of having a snapshot of the boys at the beginning of each year.

A chore chart

The other day, 0ne of my closest friends and I were talking about chores and helping our kids be responsible for their own chores. I mentioned that right now we have a system that seems to help keep the boys on task at least for their set morning responsibilities (brushing teeth, making bed, unloading the dishwasher, etc.). So I thought I would post it here in case it is beneficial for anyone else. (To give credit where credit is due, it was actually my husband's idea, and I carried it out).

The basic premise is 'to do' and 'done' columns with magnets that the boys move across when they have completed their chore. I did little drawings and the words of the chore on each magnet (which is just simply drawn on paper, laminated and then a magnet stuck on the back with double sided tape - I'd tried hot glue too, but the double-sided tape worked better).
We've used our fridge as the chart. I made the lines out of black duct tape, and wrote the headings with permanent marker. And if others might not want to deface their fridge in such a way, any metal surface would work: a white board on the bedroom door or other communal area might be an option. I like the chart in the kitchen because it is central and I don't have to go far to keep track.

In our home, the boys know that they are not free to play until all their morning chores are finished. Some chores are personal (brush teeth, make bed, get dressed, feed dog, check goats) and some are rotated weekly (set table, unload dishwasher, laundry helper). The boys also check with me after all their chores are done with "Anything else to do, Mum?" This keeps them accountable to do their morning responsibilities with minimal nagging from me. It also lets me know when they've finished. And then if there are any other things to be done we can get them done, then the boys know they are free to play. I think I started that as well to begin to instill a habit of serving and offering to help.

I still have to remind them at times about being diligent, but this way I don't hear myself saying "Have you brushed your teeth? Have you made your bed?, etc." quite so often. I simply check their chart and if everything is not in the 'Done' column, then I remind them "Work before play." And 'check your chart'.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A new year!

Well, today is the day.

We are beginning our 'school' year today - and in a new way. We've been teaching the boys since, well, since the womb, I suppose. (I used to read out loud to my eldest when he was in my womb - mostly, JRR Tolkien, at that time)

But it is a bit different now. I've been feeling the need, for the good of us all, to be more organized, consistent and purposeful in our learning. This week we will begin small with a few new things - and move our way towards a schedule.

I've often thought how God ordered His world and gave us seasons - a rhythm to life. I'd like to order our days like that with a purposeful rhythm.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Alphabet games

I was just reading a recent article on the Simply Charlotte Mason website about teaching the alphabet and it reminded me of an activity I used to do with the boys.
When my eldest was 2 or 3, I made the letters of the alphabet using a single sheet of paper per letter – drew a fun stick figure on it and then coloured the letters in with fun, bright colours. Then I laminated them – for longevity.
We played a wide variety of games with these letters. One of our favourites was to lay out a selection of the letters and then I’d say “Jump to the P” or “Put one foot on the G”, etc. As their letter recognition got better, I’d add things like “Walk to the L, Put your right hand on the H, then hop over the Z”, etc. As the boys were able to spell simple words, I’d lay out the letters and have them collect and then spell “CAT” or others. I also used the letters for phonic recognition rather than letter name recognition.
It was a fun game for the boys to use their bodies and minds.