Archive for the ‘Homeschool Record-Keeping’ Category
My everyday favorites. After a year of experimenting, I’ve got my system figured out. Top to bottom:
• Midori Travelers Notebook for my monthly calendar, weekly journal, and a scribble notebook;
• Moleskine Cahier for daily to-lists (bullet journal);
• Wild Simplicity Daybook for homeschooling notes and records (including our weekly Shakespeare lines—we learn monologues two lines at a time); and
• the Lamy Safari fountain pen my family gave me for my birthday. (LOVE.) (That’s an Amazon affiliate link but if you’re buying pens in the U.S., you should order from the nice people at Goulet Pen Company. Their instructional videos are invaluable, their customer service is top notch, and they offer inexpensive ink samples so you can try out all sorts of gorgeous colors. And that is not an affiliate link. I’m just a happy customer.)
I still keep the family appointments on Google Calendar, but I enjoy writing everything out in the TN monthly calendar (#017) as well. I use the horizontal weekly TN insert (#019) for chronicling the day after it happens—just a few notes about highlights. For the last several months I’ve used a blank TN insert (#003) for my bullet journal but came to realize I need a separate space for scrawling, sketching, doodling, working things out on paper. If I do that in the bullet, things get messy. WAY messy. So I’ve gone back to my old (cheaper) Moleskine grids for task lists.
The Midori travels with me everywhere; the bullet journal lives on my desk where I do most of my work; and the Daybook has a home in a basket by my rocking chair in the living room.
I’m laughing at how complicated this must seem if you aren’t a pen-and-paper fanatic…but I juggle a lot of roles (and kids) and I find having different paper spaces helps me keep things straight.
More nitty gritty:
I also have a kraft folder (#020) in my Midori to tuck ephemera and snail-mail supplies into. Since I started carrying notecards and stamps around, I’ve gotten much more prompt with my thank-you notes.
• I love the feel of Prismacolor colored pencils on the paper Lesley Austin uses in the Wild Simplicity Daybook. I’m sure I’ve raved about this before—the lovely creamy pencil on this recycled paper with just the right amount of tooth.
• Prismacolor pencils also delight me in the bullet journal: I like ’em for filling in my checkboxes.
• This pic, which I’ve shared here before, shows my favorite way to organize a task list: to-do items on the right, and the verso is for related notes and numbers. I also keep a running “Nag List” on a sticky note that travels from spread to spread. It’s for important tasks that I might not get done today but I gotta deal with soon—like finishing my taxes or booking a doctor appointment. I consult it each evening when making out my bullet list for the next day.
• Sometimes I’ll tuck another insert into the Midori to be used for a specific purpose. For example, I keep a log of incoming and outgoing snail mail. I don’t like a superfat Midori, though, so more often that insert lives in my stationery pouch.
• As I mentioned, I do a lot of casual sketching in my blank Midori insert. I find I’m often more comfortable there than in my proper sketchbook, because it feels more casual. But I do have a couple of sketchbooks going and I try to work in at least one of them daily. One is a spiral-bound 7×10 Canson Mixed Media pad, which gets lukewarm reviews from real artists but I quite like its toothy paper—not to mention its price point when Michael’s has a good sale + coupon combo. You have to watch for it, but now and then they’ll give you a 20% off including sale items coupon during a buy-one-get-one-free sketchbook sale. My other sketchbook is a Moleskine Art Plus, and it’s…okay? I love its size and shape (fits nicely in my bag), but the paper is too smooth for my liking. I much prefer the feel of Moleskine’s watercolor sketchbook—a lovely texture to that paper. But so far I’ve mostly just used that for color charts.
• For sketching pens, I like Sakura Pigma Microns or my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen (check out all the groovy colors at Goulet Pens) with Platinum Carbon ink, which is waterproof so it plays nice under watercolors. However, lately I’ve come to realize that what I enjoy most of all is sketching in pencil. I love the look of black or brown ink drawings, and most of the sketchbook artists I admire work directly in ink, but I really love the way a pencil feels on the paper. I keep hitting that point over and over, don’t I—the tactile experience matters more to me than how it looks.
Ha, this got long! Would you believe it was just going to be a quick copy-paste of something I tossed on Instagram today?
This is one of those posts that will likely only appeal to a few of you, but I thought it might be useful info for some. I’ve been test-driving a task management app called WorkFlowy this week. So far, so great, I gotta say.
I’ve mentioned before that I move back and forth between listkeeping and planning on paper and on the computer, sometimes tilted more one way than the other. I love my kraft-brown Moleskine Cahier grid journals for daily notes and bullet lists (and a whole lot of doodling), and I don’t see myself ever giving up paper altogether. Especially since I started putting an index on the first page, a la the bullet-journaling method. That simple step made instant coherence out of my mishmash of notes. I refer back to old notebooks frequently and now I can find the thing I’m looking for with relative ease.
So why do I use an online task list too? Isn’t that overkill? Not really, not the way I work. I need paper notebooks for a dumping ground, but the computer helps me stay streamlined and focused. For a long while, I was using a combo of Evernote and Remember the Milk (a to-do list app, quite a good one), as described in Mystie Winckler’s Paperless Home Organization. I still stash a lot of stuff in Evernote, but somewhere along the line I fell away from using RtM.
WorkFlowy caught my attention when I read that Stewart Butterfield’s team used it while building Slack. (Boy, the geek level in that sentence is off the charts.) Stewart shall forever be known to us former and devoted Glitch players as Stoot Barfield. Before Glitch, he co-founded Flickr. Innovative guy. Slack has become my platform of choice for IM conversation with Scott and one or two other close friends I chat with often during the day. But that’s a topic for another post.
Anyway, I read about WorkFlowy and had to check it out for myself. It’s a streamlined, basic listmaking platform—and it’s marvelous. (more…)
Really really really good tips in the Mystie Winckler book Pamela Barnhill recommends here, gang. I thought I was already using Evernote & Google Calendar efficiently, but I picked up some useful new ideas (including better integrating my systems) in the book. Which is 30% off with the code in Pam’s post. So, like, under $3.
In Paperless Home Organization, Mystie Winckler leads you through the process of using digital applications to build your very own paperless system. She walks you step-by-step through how to use four free apps to digitally store the same information you would normally keep in a home management binder.
Which means if you have a smartphone, or an iPod Touch, or any tablet, then your binder no longer sits cluttering up your counter, but in your hand — at the doctor’s office, the bookstore, even at your school room table.
I’d been meaning to try Remember the Milk—my pal Ron raves about it, and he doesn’t rave lightly—and Pam’s post, and Mystie’s book, nudged me to take the plunge. Last year I relied on TeuxDeux for daily task management, but my free trial period ran out and I decided I wasn’t enough in love with it to pay for it. It’s a really gorgeous, clean layout but too hard to go back to past days. Remember the Milk isn’t quite as visually appealing (its web app, that is; on my phone it’s quite nice) but it is so much more flexible and functional. Thanks to Paperless Home Organization, I’ve now got it talking to my Gmail account (my RTM to-do list pops up in my inbox sidebar) and WOW, this is just right for the way mah brain works.
As for Evernote, I rely on it for everything. Or so I thought. Now I see all sorts of new bits of recordkeeping I can shift over there. Very pleased.
Karen is talking about plans. Karen and I, we like to plan. I enjoy planning so much I could easily spend all my time making the plans and never get around to carrying them out. Actually, that was a little battle I had to fight with myself in the early days of this home education adventure, and the "do-er" just barely managed to squeak out a victory—but the "planner" makes a vicious sally now and then and has to be thrust firmly back in her place.
I like planning so much I could give it up for Lent. That’d be a sacrifice with a real sting, let me tell you.
The perpetual joke on me, of course, is that the surefirest way to bring about a major family upheaval is for me to make some nice, neat, printed-out-on-grids plans. I am still laughing over the September I made a bee-yoo-tiful color-coded schedule for our days, a gorgeously detailed plan including everything from piano practice to nature walks, and so proud of this masterpiece was I that I brought it to our mothers’ meeting to show off—and the very next day I sprained my ankle quite badly at the park, and I spent the next six weeks mostly on the couch with my leg propped up. Ha. I believe my pretty schedule made a very fine coaster for my iced tea.
Undeterred, I am still writing out plans. This summer, I plan to:
• figure out how to navigate the beach with five fair-skinned children, one of whom won’t be able to hear me since his hearing aids aren’t going within five miles of the water, and another of whom thinks sand is for eating.
• finish our read-aloud of Swallows and Amazons, finally—this has been one of Jane’s favorite books for years, and I don’t know why it is taking me so long to read it to the other girls. It’s so deliciously good, but we’ve been reading it for months.
• have the girls continue to practice their burgeoning cookie-making skills
• learn the names of the trees in our neighborhood
• try to catch up to Jane in Latin
• see a bit of California
• make more plans for fall.
The Simply Charlotte Mason folks have just debuted a new record-keeping tool designed specifically for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. You enter the books you plan to use for each student, and the CM Organizer schedules the readings over the span of time you indicate. Then it generates daily schedules with clickboxes for you to check off. Another feature creates reports showing your progress.
The website has video demos of all the nifty features, and SCM is offering a free 30-day trial period so you can live with the organizer for a month and decide if it’s worth the $9.95/month subscription fee.
I am currently reading the Simply Charlotte Mason habits book, Laying Down the Rails, and will write more about that when I’m finished. Which, judging from the state of Scott’s back, might be a while.
Ana Betty wrote:
Some questions! Why did you choose the particular Latin programs
that you did? What about grammar/copywork? I find that this slips
through the cracks for me. If I rely totally on their narrations which
are not written (my 8 yr old twin sons), I never get around to typing
them out or recording them. We’ve used a couple of different things for
grammar/copywork and have yet to find a real good fit.
I’d love to see how you record your school plans and reading
schedules. I’m a little organizationally challenged but feel it would
really help the kids and I to have it all laid out.
(I’ll get back to the grammar/copywork questions in another post.)
I talked a bit about the Latin program we’re using in this post:
Rose is using Prima Latina
because I like its simple format with manageable lesson size, and I
love that it includes Latin prayers. We are using the book and CD only,
not the DVD.
Jane completed Prima Latina a couple of years ago, and has resumed her studies with the highly engaging Latin for Children
(ecclesiatical pronunciation—although the DVD seems to use only
classical pronunciation—V is pronounced like W, for example—and when we
watch the DVD we have to remind ourselves to adjust the pronunciation.
The chant CD, which we use more than the DVD, offers both forms). All
of us are enjoying the chant CD and I’ve written before about how
delightful it is to hear five-year-old Beanie running around chanting
Jane especially likes the LfC activity book, which is heavy on
puzzles, crosswords, and such. Puzzle = perfect, in Jane’s opinion. We
also scored an ancient, battered copy of Latin Book One for a few
bucks, and Jane is really enjoying it as a supplement to Latin for
Children. It has you diving right in to real paragraphs in translation, and for both of us beginners, that has been a thrill.
Midyear update: Jane continues to love Latin for Children. Rose, returning to Prima Latina after several months off during our move, is less enthusiastic. She enjoys learning the Latin prayers, but the rest of it (so very workbooky) leaves her cold. Latin for Children is really a step beyond her right now, so I’m pondering. I’ll keep you posted.
What I like to do is jot down a few notes at the end of each day, recording what we did. Even during our most unschooly periods, I have made a habit of this—usually dashing down book titles and activities in a daily planner of some kind. Despite my planner fetish, I don’t use a planner as much for planning as I do for recording.
This past year, I have (on and off) experimented with the blog format for record-keeping. I have a no-frills spinoff blog over at Bonny Glen, and that’s where I jot down our daily reading and such. It’s sloppy and informal, but I left the public settings in place because I get so much mail from readers who want to know "how do you fit it all in???" and I wanted to reassure these nice folks that we are by no means fitting it ALL in EVERY day. My hope is that in sharing our daily learning notes, I can help ease the worries of moms who read all the great ideas out there in the blog world and feel overwhelmed at the thought of making it all happen in their own homes. It doesn’t ALL happen in anyone’s home, and certainly not in this Lilting House.
One recommendation for others who decide to make their learning journals public: if you have regular out-of-the-house activities, I wouldn’t include them in your notes! YOU’LL know, looking back, that you had ballet on such-and-such an afternoon. No need to announce to the world at large that your house is empty at a certain time every week.
Another point about record-keeping: the notes I described above are separate from (and far more detailed than) the kind of records I am required to maintain according to the laws of our state. And of course I only give the state what I am legally obligated to, not a syllable more. Here in California, under the private-school provision I opted for (registering as a private school), I must have up-to-date attendance records to present if asked. I keep those separately, on a simple form, in a folder beside my front door. (Which reminds me, I haven’t checked off the "here" boxes all week. Oh, that cracks me up. Hey, kids, are you here?)