Conclusions, Closure and Congratulations!

We have formally ended our school year in South Africa.

At the end of each year we ~




and Celebrate!

1.  Conclusion ~

We use notebook files for all our school work. I made a cover page for each subject.

We file all our notebook pages, copywork pages, maths practice pages, poems, creative writing, spelling, geography charts and maps, music appreciation logs, Sketch Tuesday sketches and other art work.

At the end of each term, I remove the completed work and file it in a large file holder for the end of the year.

Now we add the last term’s work and put things in order.

2.  Closure ~

We spend about 20 minutes and sort and file these pages.

We look back over the year’s work.

We laugh at funny pictures, remember the fun times and share memories.

The quality of some of their pages amazes the girls!  They are really delighted with some art work.  They are stunned at how much work they actually did this year.

3.  Evaluate ~

As we file everything, I have a paper handy and we play the “FAVOURITES”  game.

I ask each child,  “What was your favourite part of this … subject/ theme/ activity.”

Then I ask, “Why?”  I jot down their answers.  This kind of evaluation is fun, informal, truthful and spontaneous.

All the while we still file each subject behind its cover page.

In a short while our files are full!

Our lapbooks are usually not filed.  The children keep their lapbooks out because they love to re-read and show them to interested friends and family!

Then each child runs back to the bookshelf to collect their favourite 5 books of the year.

“Only 5?” my youngest asks.

Again I ask, “Which was your favourite-favourite?  The very best book?  Why?”

I jot their chosen book titles and reasons on my paper.

I ask them, “What did you LEAST enjoy?  Why?”  The children admit to some tears during a difficult maths lesson or spelling test, but now it doesn’t seem so bad.

Another question I ask, “What was the EASIEST subject?”

Finally I ask, “What would you like MORE of next year?” and they say ~

Lapbooks! Bible Drawing! Nature Journals!

4. We Celebrate!

  • We pose for a few photos.
  • We go on a fun picnic!
  • We enjoy a special family celebration dinner.
  • We sometimes hand out certificates.  (Sonlight provides certificates for each subject and I was amazed at how special my children felt receiving their certificate from their dad at the celebration dinner.)

Closure is a very special process.  We love to reach our goals.  We all like to know that we have made progress; and that we have arrived at our destination.  Somehow, it is easier to move forward once things are really complete.

And during the next week I compile my evaluation form for each child.  I add my own records to their own evaluations and type it and place it in their file.

I will share a bit more about evaluations next time.

This is also the time for planning for the year ahead.   (I’ll share more on this in the coming weeks too.)

Until then,enjoy the last few weeks of this amazing year!


Practical Organization Tips 2

In my previous post on Practical Organization Tips 1, I wrote about some of the practical ways I have organized the school room and the girls’ desk, chairs and stationary.  Today I want to share some details about our files:

The girls’ files

Cover pages for the files

  1. I made cover pages or file dividers for each subject. All their subjects are colour coded (e.g.: Spelling is orange and they find their pages quickly)
  2. Handwriting charts, lined writing pages, copywork pages stored in copywork section.
  3. Mental Maths page in a plastic protective sleeve.  They use a white board marker to do the page and then wipe it clean.
  4. Notebook pages, spelling test pages and other pages we are working on.
  5. Current lapbooks we are working on have all the minibooks printed and cut out and stored in a ziplock bags with duct tape.
  6. Completed lapbooks are filed with duct tape in their file. At the end of the term I file all their completed work in a folder.
  7. Any other A4 charts like my Days, weeks, months, seasons, weather chart with rotating wheels.

What is in my file?

  1. Planning sheets ~ Overview, Year Plan, Month and Week Planners
  2. New handwriting pages on hand ~ red & blue lines
  3. Mental Maths worksheets ~ the girls put a new sheet in a plastic protector sheet and use a whiteboard marker to write their answers.  They swap their page for new pages every day unless they need more practice on the one they are working on.
  4. My “Picture This!” Bible drawing lesson with the specific book of the Bible we are studying.
  5. Notebook pages, templates and notes for the work we are doing.
  6. Lapbook notes and instructions for the lapbooks we are working on now.  (My templates and ready stash is in my lapbook file.)
  7. Chart pictures and biography pages for Artist of the month
  8. Chart pictures and biography pages for Composer of the month

My file is a large file.  I could select just the work I need for the month, but it seems fine to have it on the desk opened and we all know where to find what we need. In 2008 spent over a year travelling around our country and during that time we had to keep homeschool simple and light.  All our homeschool kit fitted into 1 small carry-on suitcase. It can be contained!

My children’s files are like the workbox system that has helped so many moms.  They have the basic work-on-your-own sections (Handwriting, Mental Maths, Spelling, Copywork) and the sections that we do together (Bible, Lapbooks, History and Science).  I am tempted to try Workboxes and yet I feel that our system is excellent and well-managed.  To change over to workboxes would be much more stressful with time and space constraints.  Workboxes seems are the most helpful organization tool I have seen in the homeschooling arena! Keep what works for you and your children.  Adapt your school methods and organization if you need to tweak your system.  Overhaul it only if everyone needs a new approach.

If you can use and adapt any of these ideas, I would love to hear from you!