Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Staying Organized (Back to school)

With school back in session, the paperwork creeping into our home has returned.  Papers here.  Papers there.  Passwords to online websites. Permission slips.  Homework.  HOMEWORK.  I've learned over these past few years that the only way to deal with it is to be extremely organized. To create a system that everyone follows.  Kids have routines at school.  Classrooms wouldn't be effective without them.  So it makes sense to create a routine for home.  It also came to light last year that the way Anna processes information, most likely from having hydrocephalus, can be a bit different.  She tends to be messy and disorganized.  Kids with hydrocephalus can appear to be aloof and inattentive when that's not their intention.  It's extremely important that we stay organized at home for her sake and partly for my sanity.

Here's an example of me losing my mind over homework:  Admittedly, my home is not always picked up.  I work full time.  I like to do stuff other than clean.  I give up.  I come home from work one night and Anna's math homework is missing.  Gone.  No one can find it.  Grammy insists that Anna had just had it in her hands and was supposed to be placing it in her folder.  I refuse to tell her teacher that we "lost" her homework because who does that?  I end up crawling around on my hands and knees with a flashlight checking under couches and chairs and tables and the stove (found a pair of leggings) until finally I find it under the cabinet that houses our garbage can.  The only explanation we could come up with is that she dropped the paper on her way to put it in her folder and it slid under the cabinet.

I've changed up our organizational system a bit for this school year.  So far, it seems to be working but everyone has to cooperate all the time.

Here's how we manage paper day-to-day:
  1. Any paperwork that isn't homework goes on the counter for me or Rich to review that night  
  2. Homework in process or complete and ready for review goes in the girls' IN slots
  3. Once homework is reviewed by me or Rich, it goes in the girls' OUT slots  
We use this filing system.  


There are six slots across the top and two on the bottom.  They're not labeled because we all know what they are but the slots are ordered: Allie IN, Anna IN, Emily IN, Allie OUT, Anna OUT, Emily OUT.  In the bottom, we keep a copy of the school menu.  We also have a folder for general school information (such as phone numbers, school policies, school calendar, etc.)  The girls each have a "permanent" folder that remains in the bottom slot.  These contain information and passwords for online homework websites, notes from their teachers, class schedules, etc.

The girls' classes haven't hit full homework mode just yet as they are still going through some placement testing.  Allie did bring home her first weekly homework packet last Friday with 20 spelling words.  The packet contained the following:
  1. She needs to read for at least 20 minutes each night (Monday - Thursday.)  Reading over the weekend is optional.  I pretty much encourage reading every night.  On her packet, she just needs to note the number of minutes she read by night.
  2. There were two reading comprehension/reading logic sections.  Each took her about five minutes.
  3. 100 easy addition math facts.  She whipped through these.  They will become more complicated.
  4. She has to complete three different activities (there are 12 to choose from) with her spelling words.  One that we did over the weekend was to type all the words in a Word document (I had her use Excel - shhh, no one has to know) on the computer and print it out.
She also brings home a math worksheet every night, Monday through Thursday.  So far, the sheets have been two-sided.  One side has to be done, the other is optional.  (I prefer that she do both.)  Having that packet early was helpful because we were able to front load some of the work and avoid additional craziness on the nights with activities.

Emily and Anna have just been bringing home nightly math sheets.  They say that they have reading logs that stay at school where they have independent reading each day.  I'm assuming that spelling words start up next week which means that they will be a week off from Allie.

I still want to get a portable, small (8.5 x 11) whiteboard so that I can write daily notes for Grammy.  Such as what Allie needs to do in her packet that night.    

I should mention that parents also have weekly homework.  Allie and Emily have journals that they bring home on Fridays after writing a letter discussing what they've done at school that week.  For Allie, I need to write a letter back in the journal.  For Emily, I need to sign that I've read her letter and I can write comments back to her on that page.



Esther said...

Love the organizational part! I can see moving towards something like that next year when my boys will be in 2nd grade. In 1st grade, they barely have any homework, although I do lots of extra stuff with them because I simply don't think that they are challenged enough (one of the boys) or need more practice (the other twin)...I sub in the school and noticed that most teacher use the same system that you have with the bins, too.

I have to say that you are very lucky to have Grammie help out so incredibly much. I, too, worked full-time for a while with the twins, but with zero family around (I mean zero!), it was all on me....if Grammie were not be able to help, what do you think you would do? Hire a Nanny for after-school? Just curious, that's all. I stayed home partially because I did not want the kids in the after-care programs...

Sarah said...

If we didn't have family to help out, one of us wouldn't be working. The main reason being that Anna has to be cathed.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

We just had a really sad situation at our house yesterday. We have the inbox / outbox, and we're working to create our system. I have been looking at the (LOTS OF) work the girls bring home...what they did at school that day...but I've just been filing it until the end of the week. And then I've been recycling it. There are a couple of cute things I've saved -- illustrated stories, for example -- but the handwriting samples and easy math worksheets I hadn't thought much of. It's all below the girls' level, and they always come home with A+ or smiley face or "great job" on it.

One of our girls got upset yesterday, asking when I would go through her work with her.

Ideally we'd look through it together, but there's just no time. School is starting 30 minutes later here this year...which means I am working a later schedule...which means I have less than an hour when I get home to serve/eat supper and spend a little time with the girls.


I just hadn't prioritized that...and then I realized yesterday it was important to her.

I felt terrible. We've gotta start fitting that in the schedule somehow.

Sarah said...

I agree - really hard to find time to go through work together.