Special Study Prep Challenge: Week 28

Special Study Prep Challenge: Week 28

The Special Study Prep Challenge: Get organized for Classical Conversations, Co-op, and Unit StudiesIf you are a homeschooler who participates in Classical Conversations, co-op classes you teach, or unit studies, this is the week you will use to prepare for these courses. I put this preparation ahead of other core curriculum planning (which will be next week), because other people often depend on us to be prepared in this area. Whenever I have left my co-op planning for the last minute, I have been sorry! We’re going to be organized homeschoolers and be ready well ahead of time.

#1 Set up system of organization

When outside classes or other people are involved in your studies, organization becomes even more important. Today, you will do any of the following, depending on what studies you are planning:

  • Set up a meeting with other teachers in the co-op to decide sharing of responsibilities
  • Set up a filing and/or material storage system
  • Set up a system of review, such as for memory work

Get a date on the calendar now to meet with your fellow teachers or the summer will get away from you (I’m speaking to myself right now!). If you are using Classical Conversations, you will want to go over the Ultimate Guide to Classical Conversations resources in which I share the best organizing ideas. For other types of studies, you may want to set up a binder and/or files to organize materials. Get them labeled now so planning goes more smoothly.

#2 Research

No matter what kind of special study you’re involved in, you’ll want to do some research. Rather than dive in and find a hundred different experiments or field trips, look for resources that have done the planning for you. If you’re using a particular curriculum, search for it plus plans, schedule, or weekly.

Create a Pinterest board, Evernote notebook, or use your binder / files to keep your research organized.

# 3 Plan

Now you will take your school calendar, your research, and your organizational system and you’ll make a plan. For classes that others are involved in, your ultimate goal is to have a schedule that can be shared. I like to email and print it for participants. Keep it simple. If you want to do something elaborate, make sure you keep other days low-key. Assume that you’ll have about half the time you think you’ll have. Keep in mind the weariness and distraction and illness that tends to set in at certain times of year.

Plan the things you really want to do first and if you need more activities, either fill them in with lesser options or leave them open for the unexpected. It’s a good idea to plan lessons and keep dates flexible.

#4 Shop / List Materials

Nothing makes me crazier than getting ready to do a craft or experiment and finding out that I don’t have what I need. The way to avoid this is to purchase everything you need for your studies ahead of time and to add perishable or library materials to a list. The problem with adding the perishable and library materials to your calendar is you’ll buy that red cabbage and then you take a field trip instead of doing experiments. Keep a list of time-sensitive materials needed by week and add the “check supply shopping list” to your task list each week before running errands. Yes, I am speaking to myself again!

When you have purchased or gathered supplies that aren’t time-sensitive, put them away neatly according to what you decided in Step #1.

Won’t it be great being organized for these classes ahead of time?

Are you on Google+? I would love to connect with you there. Be sure to check the Organized Homeschool board for great ways to get organized this week.


Here is the July Organized Homeschool Calendar and a list of previous weeks’ challenges:


Daily missions to organize your homeschool July 2014

Organized Homeschool Challenge

Week 1: Daily Devotions Challenge

Week 2: Daily Routine Challenge

Week 3: To-Do List Challenge

Week 4: Memory Keeping Challenge

Week 5: The Decluttering Challenge

Week 6: The Organized Computer Challenge

 Week 7: The Marriage of Your Dreams Challenge

Week 8: The Confident Parent Challenge

Week 9: The Extended Family Challenge

Week 10: The Bring on the Spring Challenge

Week 11: The Spring Cleaning Challenge

Week 12: The Organized Easter Challenge

Week 13: The Serve the Church Challenge

Week 14: The Chore Challenge

Week 15: The Organize Your Finances Challenge

Week 16: The Curriculum Challenge

Week 17: The Friendship Challenge

Week 18: The Family Celebrations Challenge

Week 19: The Organized Clothing Challenge

Week 20: The Organized Vacation Challenge

Week 21: The Organized Summer Challenge

Week 22: The Outdoor Activity Challenge

Week 23: The Used Curriculum Challenge

Week 24: The Homeschool Space Challenge

Week 25: The Goal Setting Challenge

Week 26: The Homeschool Planning Challenge

Week 27: The Bible Time Challenge

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Atelier Art Review

Atelier Art Review

Atelier Art Review

I’ve mentioned previously that I’m not a big fan of doing art. Between gathering supplies and the mess it makes, art was frequently put on the back burner. But perhaps the biggest hindrance to doing a formal art program was that I had the kids working at their own level. While a leveled art curriculum sounds good in theory, it means unique materials and assistance required for each child. The biggest problem was my children aren’t motivated to do art on their own. I got lots of whining about not being able to do the project or just having no idea what to make when choices were given. This, despite using what I consider to be excellent materials.

Atelier came to my rescue. A DVD-based curriculum, Atelier’s greatest strengths addressed my family’s weaknesses:

  • One level can be used by multiples ages (I’ve had 5-13yos working together)
  • The video clearly demonstrates what to do
  • The video shows children’s imperfect approaches to the project, reducing the I-can’t-do-it’s
  • Uses mostly easy to obtain, inexpensive materials that can be bought at the beginning of the year
  • The guidebook even shows you how to set up the materials for each student
  • If you show the video, the kids will hound you until you do the art 🙂

I’ve been delighted by what my children have achieved. Working together really gets their creativity (and okay, competitiveness) going.

There are some drawbacks, but I’ve been able to address them, so you could, too:

  • Some projects are a little on the childish side for the older set. My 13yo hasn’t minded, adding humor to his work.
  • It’s not inexpensive. The Level 3 package (one year’s worth) which we purchased, retails for $155. I purchased mine from eBay for less. You may be able to purchase used. If you have multiple children like I do, the price is much more reasonable.
  • The videos are dated. I’m not sure when they were produced, but it was more than a few years ago. My kids haven’t complained and the quality of the instruction more than makes up for it.
  • It could be tougher to use with one child. Consider creating a co-op for art with other families. You can split the cost and the work and you’ll all have more fun.
  • The over-sized paper can be hard to find. I purchased mine on Amazon.

The best way I’ve found to motivate myself to use an art curriculum like Atelier is to schedule it. We do art on Tuesday afternoons, unless we have a conflict. I should note that Atelier’s program also includes teaching on the great artists and artwork of history. We just haven’t used that part yet. I’m working on getting the tougher stuff (for me) out of the way first.

Here’s a link to a blog post describing their use of Atelier using the same Level (and even the same project) I’ve displayed here.

What do you do to get art into the school day?


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