TOS Schoolhouse Planner

     Looking for a way to organize your homeschool for the new school year? How about your materials? Your home and budget? Yourself? Have I got a solution for you! My first TOS Homeschool Crew review discusses the many things the Schoolhouse Planner can do for you. The new 2009-2010 planner is available now at the TOS Magazine’s Schoolhouse Store.


     This planner, in e-book form, sells for $39.00 and supplies you with forms you can use endless times for every part of your homeschooling and home organization.

     This e-book can be printed off or you can enter your information and save it in the document. This feature is so easy to use. The cursor lines up on all the forms and tables perfectly, and you can tab from section to section, and click inside check boxes to enter a check where you want it . I loved playing with it.

     Now, about all the forms you receive – there is everything you need to plan all aspects of your homeschool, organize your materials, and your home life. You receive all kinds of calendars and planning forms for the year, month, and day. I even found one that I had been looking for that allows me to plan for the week with space for my two sons and up to seven subjects with plenty of room to write.

     During your school year, there are logs and records to compile lists of materials used, books read, fieldtrips taken and activities the children enjoyed. As your children progress through their school work, you can make notes on various reports, evaluation sheets, and transcripts.

     But homeschool forms are only half of what you get with this planner. Along with tons of recipes, you are going to love the monthly topics presented in summary and fact sheets. These topics range from the thirteen colonies to the weather to getting into college to name just a few. Each one has fact sheets that go with each topic. In addition to these fact sheets, there are many more. These range from various famous groups of people to countries, states, and their capitals to the periodic table. There is a load of information here, handy to use. I plan on printing these out and having my boys add these to their notebooks for our different subjects for handy reference.

     Lastly, as a homeschooling mom, I know I need as much help as possible organizing my home life as well. This planner supplies all sorts of forms to help you organize schedules, housekeeping, contact information, and budgeting. There are even chore charts that include pictures for your little ones to use. I love these and wish I had them when my guys were little. I ended up making my own. Now, you don’t have to.

     Check out the 2009-2010 Schoolhouse Planner for yourself. There are pictures of various forms for your review. I know you’ll love it as much as I do. I can’t wait to start planning my new year!

Homeschool Blog Carnivals

Check out these blogs for the new entries for the Carnival of Homeschooling at Principaled Discovery and the Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Carnival at Barefoot Voyage. There are alot of links to many homeschooling blogs with interesting articles about homeschooling in general and homeschooling using Charlotte Mason methods. It’s a smorgasbord to be savored over time! I’m sure you’ll find something you can use and will enjoy.

Using Dictation

Using dictation goes hand in hand with the use of copywork in our house. We use copywork and dictation differently than posted on other Charlotte Mason websites and blogs. We study the same piece of copywork everyday for four days, focusing on different spelling and vocabulary words, literary devices, capitalization, punctuation, and various sentence structures. For more details about how we use copywork, please see the article entitled “Using Copywork.”

After studying a piece of copywork all week, at the end of the week, we use that piece as our dictation piece. As I read the selection phrase by phrase (only once), my children will write it down on a piece of notebooking paper. We then correct it together, as they read it aloud to me and mark whatever they find wrong, with some subtle hints from me. This allows me to determine how well they are grasping the grammatical and spelling skills we have reviewed during the week. Errors are reviewed and explained and those sentences will be used again.

My older child who is more language oriented can work with longer and more complex pieces, rarely making mistakes. While my younger one whose talent lies more in mathematics benefits from this use of copywork and dictation with its additional reinforcement.

The following links have various methods in which to use dictation and copywork and dictation sources:

After you read these articles, you will see dictation can be used in a variety of ways that best suits you and your children. We also use different sources for copywork and dictation depending on what we are studying at the time. If we are not reading a book to go along with our history or science studies, we take the time to copy Bible passages, poems, classic literary works, or the boys pick passages from their favorite books. We look for interesting sentences that have new elements and written conventions and spelling words to learn. We then try those conventions in our own writing to make them our own after copying it and taking it down in dictation.

My boys have then made connections between this process when recognizing these writing techniques in pieces of literature and in their own writing. It’s wonderful when all the pieces come together for your children! I hope these methods will help your children make their own connections and enjoy reading and writing interesting sentences as much as we do.

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Using Copywork

If you have read my previous articles, you know that  I use some Charlotte Mason’s methods in a variety of ways. Some methods I follow exactly as Ms. Mason would have used them with her students; others, I have customized to suit my teaching style and my and my children’s needs.

Some Charlotte Mason followers advocate that copywork should be used only as handwriting practice and nothing more, while others state it can be used as copywork and a source of spelling practice. Ms. Mason wrote that copywork can be used as a careful “transcription” for handwriting practice using only the best handwriting, attention to detail, and short passages. She also states that the child should note a few spelling words to observe closely, close the eyes to see the word, and then write the word from memory. Allowing the child to pick his own favorite passages from assorted sources makes it a more meaningful exercise; and, when written in a personal journal, the child has a book of favorite selections as a keepsake.

I allow my children to select passages I’ve printed out and put into a folder, or select a book they are reading or have read, or choose a book that corresponds to the topics we are discussing from a few choices on our reading list. They can then choose a notebooking page they can copy on from another folder, where I have placed copies of notebooking pages with various theme borders or pictures.

When they have selected their passage, I point out to them any words I think might be challenging to spell, any capitalization and punctuation details, and a grammar concept, literary device, or special sentence structure used in the sentence. This piece of copywork will be used for the first four days of that week, so I will divide the items I want to discuss over those days of the week, and then use the copywork piece for dictation on the fifth day.  I look over the copywork and have my child read it to me aloud word by word so he will be editing his own work. He will usually catch his own mistakes and correct them this way. This forces my children to gain attention to detail and the corrections they make will remain in their memories so that next time they write the passage, that correction is still set in their minds.

I like to use examples of good writing and point out what makes the piece good writing, so that my child understands what he sees as he writes. That way later, when we are writing our narrations and we discuss what makes their writing good or better, we can refer to what he has learned in our discussions of copywork.

I know some homeschoolers using Charlotte Mason might be jumping up and down right now with their arms waving and saying “but you don’t have to point all of this out to the child, he will pick it up as he continues to copy down good literature.” And others maybe  saying, “I’ve never heard of copying the same piece everyday or using it for the dictation piece at the end of the week.” This procedure is what my family follows because it is what has worked best with my teaching style and my children’s learning styles. They continue making connections between what writing elements have been used in their copywork with other pieces of literature they are reading or later copywork that comes along. I guess I must feel the need for a little bit more structure to the copywork than letting my child pick this up more intrinsically.

Whatever way you use copywork, it is well worth the time spent for a number of reasons: developing handwriting skills, spelling skills, and copying good writing, which could be a precursor to emulating good writing as you use good literature as your model to follow when writing your own piece.

Find the best way copywork works for your family and have fun with it. Use a variety of pieces your children find interesting; write on fun notebooking pages and decorate them; and put together a neat looking notebook at the end of the year.

Here are some resources to use for copywork pieces:

Have fun with your copywork and creating books of your own!

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