Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simple Lesson Preparation links

Those of us who love to plan our children's studies know all to well that the challenge begins when the plans must be followed in real time.  Fussy babies, sick preschoolers, moody teens and an elderly parent 200 miles away certainly made it rough for me at times.  If you need some inspiration for organizing your children's plans, these links are for you.

The Avilian Routine and method saved us from stress-filled days for many years.

Lisa uses a similar approach, but makes use of a folder system instead of binders.

If folders appeal to you and organization is one of your favorite hobbies, check out Dawn's elaborate File Crate System.  She has numerous posts on this, so be sure to poke around her beautiful site.

Jen's Living Learning  offers another approach for maintaining a peaceful home routine.

Barb over at Harmony Art Mom reminds us to keep it simple with her approach for organizing the school year with older children.

The Workbox System is ideal for children who use a lot of hands-on material.  Twenty years ago a group of used shoe boxes for a similar approach.  If you aren't to sure if this system will work for you, visit your shoe store and try it out first.

As always, visit Donna Young for all your homeschool forms.

Avilian Method

This was originally published on geocities in the late 1990s, before blogs and facebook became popular.  I frequently get requests about the method and offer it here for those who are interested.  

This is a very simple system that allowed our homeschool to run smoothly during the stress-filled times after a baby and before the older children were independent learners.  The images are twelve years old, so the material shown is  dated and the format of the post lacks the creativity of bloggers today.  I've transferred it here as it appeared originally. New comments added in green.

I was very proud of this image that used a new photo overlay method and never would have imagined what is available today.
Avilian Notebook System
  • 2 binders (½ and 1 inch thick)
  • Page dividers
  • Allow the children to decorate the binder cover. This will give them a sense of ownership and spark an interest in using the notebook.

  • The Daily Notebook contains dividers equal to the number of basic subjects. Tabbed dividers can be purchased for about a dollar, or the children can make their own. 


For the lower grades our family labels the dividers-

·       Math
·       Penmanship
·       Grammar
·       Spelling
·       Composition
·       Block study 1*
·       Block study 2*
·       Memory work (including religion)
  •  Younger children sometimes prefer pocket dividers so that they don’t need to open and close their binder throughout the day. When that method is used both the front and back pocket can hold school material.

  • Workbook pages for one week are removed from the workbook and 3-hole punched. They are then placed behind the correct subject divider. Workbooks are returned to the shelf and out of the student’s way.
  • Assignments using books or guides are written on loose-leaf paper and placed behind the correct divider.
  •  Students work through their notebook one subject at a time, removing the sheets for ease of writing, and returning them behind the correct divider for grading.
The Avilian notebook system works in conjunction with the Avilian scheduling system.  The scheduling system assumes the following:
  •  Basic subjects such as math and grammar will be taught in the morning
  • The morning work should be of such a nature that it requires minimal explanation by the parent-teacher, allowing her to alternate between helping children rather then having to tutor one child for long stretches of time*
  • The student should understand that the material in the notebook is intended to teach basic facts and study skills
  • The morning material should take no longer then 2 ½ to 3 hours to do.  Material not finished during that time should be held over for a homework session later in the day.
  • The parent-teacher lunches with the children and enjoys their company during a recreation period (chatting on the phone or checking e-mail should be limited until after the meal and recreation period)
  •  1-2 hours in the afternoon are given over to the parent-teacher reading aloud to the children.  It is during this time that children most often acquire an excitement for learning and when they are able to fine tune their thinking skills and general knowledge base through active discussions. 
  • A brief quiet time between read aloud session is desirable.  Quiet time is suitable for naps, spiritual reading or older students may want to complete morning work that was left unfinished.  It serves to refresh the parent who is reading and the children.

* We are classical educators who prefer living books, but we have discovered that workbooks teach basic facts effectively and make the best use of our time.  Some workbooks that have worked well us include the following from Catholic Heritage Curriculum: Language of God, My Catholic Speller, Writing Can Help, Horizon Math, Stories of the Saints (reading comprehension and composition practice.)  We alternate Stories of the Saints with Seton’s Thinking Skills workbook.

Subjects that don’t make use of workbooks should include direction to the student behind the subject divider.  If the student is using a textbook, then a syllabus for the textbook along with an explanation of what is expected each day should be placed behind the divider.  This would be the case for those using MODG curriculum, for example.

Block Study is an integral part of this system and should be initiated in 3rd or 4th grade at the latest.
Blocks refer to the study of one subject (e.g. religion, history). 
  • The student spends a designated block of time studying the material.
  • He studies it to the exclusion of other subjects for a longer period of time. For example, rather then studying all 5 subjects listed above for 30 minutes a day, the students study just two of the subjects for as long as 45 or 50 minutes a day.
  •  Less time is required in block study because the student is already focused on the subject and is not distracted by switching to another subject.
  •  The student learns exactly how to “study” material rather then just reading to learn.  Students need to be taught how to “study,” it isn’t natural for them to know how
 “Studying” takes the following forms by grade:
  •  2nd graders read one or more paragraphs and then narrate to the parent (or into a tape recorder) what their reading was about, gradually increasing length of reading material.  Studying of that same subject continues with copy work, related game, observational studies,  tracing or sketching, coloring or further reading.
  •  3rd graders begin reading a few paragraphs or short section from their block subject followed by a narration with the parent.  After the narration the student writes the narration.  Gradually increase length of reading and writing.  Copy work, related game, observational studies,  tracing or sketching, are still included
  • 4th and 5th graders begin to take notes.  The student reads 1 paragraph then skims it a second time making notes of the important point(s).  By the middle of 5th grade students should be very efficient at determining the main point.  This phase is critical as it trains the student to remember to pick up the main points of a paragraph during the first read through.  Eventually the student doesn’t need to return to the paragraph to take notes. Observational studies, sketching and games are still included in this study time.
  •  6th students continue taking notes on the main point, but they also begin to write questions at the end of each paragraph or section.  These questions focus on unanswered material from the reading and reflect questions that the student has about the material, encouraging the student to be an active reader.  The parent-teacher has to first model this type of questioning for the student.  As in the lower grades, observational studies and sketching are still an important element of study.
  • 7th-8th grade students read longer sections before taking notes on main points and recording questions.  By high school the student should be able to read long sections and just quickly highlight or note key phrases that will jog their memory.