Thursday, January 28, 2016

Homeschoolopoly: Making a Game of our Homeschool Routine

I am relatively new to this homeschooling adventure. I started doing online schooling with my daughter last Spring and this Fall we decided to online educate/homeschool both kids. So really, I'm more-or-less a first time homeschooling mom with a 4th grader and a 6th grader. It's not the age and stage the average person finds themselves homeschooling for the first time. But alas, here I am.

Can I just say it isn't always easy?

I feel like I've spent so much time just trying to figure out and establish rules and routines. Then I find that something isn't working, so I throw it out. And we try something new. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I was talking with a dear mama friend at a local coffee shop the other day. She's in a similar boat to me but she's way more structured than I am, so I was delighted to pick her brain about what's working for her and her family. In the midst of this conversation I got an idea in my head that I couldn't let go of. It took me a while to flush out the details, but I'll let you take a peek at my beta-test version of our new family board game: Homeschoolopoly!
The idea here is that you move around the board clockwise, but you follow continuous lines in order, and you roll the dice to determine the order of things that are represented by a line with arrows at both ends as explained in the bottom right corner of the board.

I saved my 12X12 board as a JPEG in Publisher
and sent it to Costco to get it printed out. 
First thing in the morning my kids are expected to get up by 7:10, get dressed, eat breakfast, do their morning jobs and get their school stuff out for the day. If they have that accomplished and they're ready to start at 8:00 a.m. then they get to enjoy some privileges. For us that includes bringing a stuffed animal to school, getting to enjoy music throughout the day, and having the freedom to "move about the cabin" during the day instead of being stuck doing their work at their desk or the table. I should note, however, that some of our subjects are music free and need to be completed at a desk or table, so being ready by 8:00 a.m. doesn't give them complete freedom in these areas.

I was just trying to find a way to motivate my kids to get up, get going, and get ready on their own accord!

Once they've gotten ready for their day they start with Bible and Cursive while a history timeline song plays in the background. Then they move on to math. My youngest also completes a "Jump Start" page, front and back. It's basically just a skills update worksheet that covers some math, handwriting and basic language arts.

This is the perfect place for fines, loose change
and other random goodies. I think it's my
 kids' favorite reward!
After math they are free to roll the dice to see what's next. They complete that subject then roll the dice to see what's next and repeat until lunch time.

Right after lunch they need to finish anything from the morning that wasn't complete, but after that they can move on to "specials" for whatever time remains in the afternoon, rolling the dice to see what's next.

You will notice that there are four spots on the board for cards. We've turned old playing cards into four different categories of cards that are used throughout the day.

Congratulations cards are given out as a reward. I give them out for good attitudes, chores well done, insentive to transition well, and even I even use them for bribery. I've gone so far as to use them to get the kids to do stuff for me that I don't want to do myself, like make me cereal! Basically, I use them to encourage behavior I want to reinforce. 
Consequence cards are used mainly to correct attitudes or behaviors. So far we've had a need to copy down dictionary words such as "cheat", "accomplice" and "priorities". Sometimes a student isn't quite ready to start work as evidenced by their attitude so they get an opportunity to work off some steam by completing some tasks prior to starting or getting back to work. Titus recently remarked, "You can pretty much get us to do anything with red cards!"

I have one child that isn't necessarily quick to do what they're asked to do. Now, instead of repeating myself or getting frustrated I will say something like, "Put your math away and get out your next subject." If they don't immediately respond I will say, "Red card in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1..." and they magically bust into gear, usually by the time I get to 3. It's a beautiful thing!  
Choice cards ensure that I never hear the words, "I'm bored" again. These cards give my children some direction for the chunk of time between when school ends and dinner begins. Some of these cards are a great reminder for them to pull out things that they enjoy, but tend to neglect or forget about. 
Chore cards are drawn at a few points during the day. They help the household run smoothly, but it also gives my kids a little break here and there where they have to get up and get moving. Most of these chores can be done in 5 minutes or less. 
Sometimes the cards are used right away, and sometimes they are saved for later, it just depends on the card drawn and where we are at in our day. We discard the used cards until the whole stack has been cycled through. My kids are really enjoying the surprise elements of this game, while I really enjoy the flexibility. If one of the cards isn't working for us I can just remove it from the deck. If I think of something else I want to include, I can just add it in. If I don't want them to complete a subject that day I can just cover it up or add a marker to that spot so they skip over it when they are playing the game. 

It's like structured chaos. 

That's how I roll.

This is what the board looked like just before lunch today. The buttons show what Leeann has completed and the Lego parts and weapons show Titus's progress. 

We are really enjoying making this game part of our homeschool routine. Our family loves board games so this feels like a natural and fun solution to our search for a routine that will actually work for our family and our life of structured chaos. 


Tiffany said...

What a cute idea!

Rebecca.Alburn said...

This is AMAZING! It sounds so interesting and well-organized it makes me jealous of the homeschoolers in your family..... thank you for sharing the details. Great ideas for summertime in my home! :)

Robyn said...

Thank you!

Robyn said...

Thank you. It's really working well for us... So far anyway!

Just today I was thinking about doing a summer version!

Rebecca.Alburn said...

Definitely share it if you have a summer spin on this game!! I love your ideas.