Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Notebooks and Independent Work

Wow, take a hiatus for the winter holidays, and suddenly it's like you've forgotten how to blog and how to get work done on a timetable.  Sheesh.

Anyway, today's late entry is one that surprised me. About a week and change ago, I was reading a post by Cait at My Little Poppies.  In it, she discusses the (not unusual) loss of every single pencil around, and also links over to Amongst Lovely Things with an interesting organizational idea.  The idea? Incredibly simple, but completely practical: spiral notebooks.

We've been using a spiral notebook for the last week. In it, we list Mad Natter's independent work at the top, then the work we do together at the bottom. Every day, this gets done, and every day he chooses which work he wants to do when.  If he has any trouble, he is welcome to bring the work to me, if not, he is expected to complete it on his own. Granted, there are the usual issues with actually working on the work when he is supposed to, but it isn't enough to constitute the whole thing as failing.  In fact, with his now wasting only his own time, and not mine as well, I find this works out significantly better, at least from a stress-level perspective.  

In point of fact, Mad Natter has, often, three or four independent subjects, which often take him several hours to complete, due to dawdling, spacing out, staring at the walls... And the work we do together (another four or five subjects) takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, including redirection. It hasn't been a cure-all for the attention and focus issues - not in the slightest. In fact, it actually highlights them. However, it has saved my sanity to no end. I am able to get things done and keep up with my own daily things while Mad Natter does his own work, instead of having to be stapled to his side for the vast bulk of the morning and early afternoon. There is also less resistance on his part to having work to do - he gets to choose what/when, which seems to make the whole thing easier to manage. 

The real bonus here is that I'm no longer the bad guy. I'm not wasting his time making him learn to tell time - he's wasting his own time dawdling. I'm no longer the reason he's not playing video games - the amount of time he's taking in a day is the reason he's not playing video games. He's able to make the connection that the longer he takes to do his work, the less time he has available to play. Since I've been trying to establish that for the last year, it's nice to see the connection finally click.

All in, while a simple spiral notebook isn't the cure all for homeschool woes, it is certainly helping - and it's helping me move Mad Natter into taking a little more responsibility for his own work in the process. I can certainly deal with that.