Monday, January 3, 2011

School Inservice Day—January 2011

On the first Monday of each month, the kids and I have a school inservice day—basically, we spend the morning going over the past month’s school goals and projects, and plan everything for the new month.  Then, we clean the house.  I LOVE inservice days.  I got the idea from another mother who homeschools her nine (NINE!) kids.
For one thing, inservice days are great for keeping me semi-organized.  When God was handing out the genes for organizational ability and interest, I was standing in the buffet line.  Inservice days help me make up for that.  For another thing, inservice days allow me  to chart our progress and evaluate the methods and programs I’m using.  I can also assess the kids’ success and interest in what we’re doing.
Inservice days are a great guard against burn-out.  These are when I switch up the chore assignments, the class schedule, implement new teaching tools/methods, and discard ones that aren’t going so well.  We plan field trips and I introduce new themes—giving the kids a heads up for what to expect for the next month.  I dole out the rewards (I’m not above bribery!) the kids have earned, like the Book It! program from Pizza Hut, or local library incentives, or awards/privileges of my own design.
Here’s how today’s inservice shaped up:
I started the official meeting at breakfast—when all the kids are at the table and their mouths are full, so they are more inclined to listen.  Today is our second anniversary of homeschooling, so we planned a party for tonight (basically just an excuse to have some cake and ice cream and reminisce about the last couple of years—complete with a foray into our photos and memories of all the crazy stuff we’ve done.)
Next, we talked about some “social issues.”  Calvin, my second oldest, has gotten rather fidgety (I’m blaming it on cold weather and being cooped up in the house too much) and has started rolling his head constantly, claiming he has a crick in his neck.  Now, doing this OCCASIONALLY is one thing—but doing this too frequently just looks weird and is incredibly annoying to witness. We talked about how to present ourselves in public (there’s no excuse for tic-like/nervous habit behavior without a medical reason!) and how to deal with real cricks in the neck, so there’s no need for persistent head rolling. 
After that, we moved onto the kids’ daily/weekly schedule.  A few months ago, I realized we all needed some more structure, and I was tired of nagging the kids to get every little thing done.  I discovered this daily checklist on and began posting a copy for each kid in the family room to fill out, or at least to refer to.
After going over the nitty gritties on the daily checklist (chronicled in my next post) we talked about field trips (Guatemala for a week!) and how to celebrate Daddy’s birthday!
Finally, it was time for lunch, a break, and then some housecleaning and errand running.  All in all, it was a good day, and we’re officially ready to take on January 2011!


  1. Buffet line here too! What a great way to keep organized. Yay for the great work you are doing!

  2. This is such a great idea. I've only homeschooled on and of a year here finishing out the year there and staying organized was definitely the hardest part.