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After being irritated with constant pencil sharpening and later watching a Pudewa talk about kid's sensory issues with dull pencils, i keep a caddy with a lot of sharp pencils.  If dull, it goes to the counter in a pile to be sharpened at the end of the day.  They get sharp pencils and i do not have to hear the sharpener every 10 minutes.

Oh, and I really like clipboards to take assignments on the go.  Also use them at home just to keep the day's worksheets sorted.

Anyone else have little things like this to make the day easier?  I am wondering what little things could help the day go better.

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We fill water bottles before school so that a Certain Student doesn't disappear for water breaks.

 

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I have a Command Center on our wall with a dry erase board and cork board.  Everything for the day is on this board so everyone knows what to expect - any activities/appointments, independent work for school, announcements....  Underneath is a row of baskets - library books in one basket, read-aloud in another, Morning Basket, etc.

Each kid has a crate and all of their schoolbooks are in the crate.  The crates are next to their chairs in the school room.  So, the crates can move around the house and everyone knows where their books are (this is new for us this year, but it really seems to be helping).

My Kindergartener has a "bus stop".  When it's time for school, I tell him to run to the bus stop (which is usually his bed room), then I pick him up with the "school bus" (he gets a piggyback ride) and carry him to the school room - while making absurd beeping noises. 

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We use timers. When the kids were little, it was mostly for me. I would have a habit of keeping a subject going too long and fatiguing my students and then the school day would take too long. When I started using the timer, the boys started perking up more because they could see how long a subject would be and would know I wasn’t going to keep them there longer than I should have.

Now, my oldest uses it for himself independently, to keep himself on track and not lose focus.  

 

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1 hour ago, Evanthe said:

I have a Command Center on our wall with a dry erase board and cork board.  Everything for the day is on this board so everyone knows what to expect - any activities/appointments, independent work for school, announcements....  Underneath is a row of baskets - library books in one basket, read-aloud in another, Morning Basket, etc.

Each kid has a crate and all of their schoolbooks are in the crate.  The crates are next to their chairs in the school room.  So, the crates can move around the house and everyone knows where their books are (this is new for us this year, but it really seems to be helping).

My Kindergartener has a "bus stop".  When it's time for school, I tell him to run to the bus stop (which is usually his bed room), then I pick him up with the "school bus" (he gets a piggyback ride) and carry him to the school room - while making absurd beeping noises. 

When my odd was in k, transitioning between subjects like from a handwriting sheet to a math page was really difficult for her. We used to pretend to be animals between subjects- lots of kangaroo hopping and elephant trunk swinging with trumpeting sounds were to be seen and heard. 

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I set reminders on the Alexa device for online classes or out-of-house appointments. I’m trying to form the habit of setting those reminders for the upcoming week on the weekend. 

Setting some relatively independent work to be done just before lunch, so I can be in and out of the kitchen as needed instead of by my child’s side.

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This tip was on the Morning Basket podcast awhile back, have a music playlist signaling the start of school. At the end of a certain song, school starts. 
 

My song list is about 10 minutes. It gives the kids a chance to finish getting ready for the day and to make the mental switch to school time without me nagging them to hurry up and finish breakfast or brush their teeth. 

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I keep a felt backed vinyl table cloth from Walmart on my dining table secured with Binder Clips so it doesn't slide off. Then I write a number line, handwriting models, and any other concepts where models/examples are helpful written with Sharpie on the table cloth. When school is done, you can cover it with a regular tablecloth. When it gets torn up, or you move to something else, (or your kid pokes holes in it with a pencil) you throw it away and get a new one and then put your applicable stuff on the new one. Saves having to rewrite models all the time or losing them- especially since we have no wall space to hang "schooly" type things like models. It's just right in front of them while they're doing their seat work. 

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13 hours ago, parent said:

After being irritated with constant pencil sharpening and later watching a Pudewa talk about kid's sensory issues with dull pencils, i keep a caddy with a lot of sharp pencils.  If dull, it goes to the counter in a pile to be sharpened at the end of the day.  They get sharp pencils and i do not have to hear the sharpener every 10 minutes.

Oh, and I really like clipboards to take assignments on the go.  Also use them at home just to keep the day's worksheets sorted.

Anyone else have little things like this to make the day easier?  I am wondering what little things could help the day go better.

I read about a similar tip - I got a box of golf pencils.  It cost me less than a $ including shipping from Staples because I had a reward coupon.  Can’t find your pencil, oh, look!  I’ve got one right here!

I bought the colored bins from Lakeshore learning so I had one per subject.  (Walmart had them at back to school time).  I kept all the stuff for the current unit in that subject’s bin.  Grabbed the bin, did the work, put everything back in when done.  Helped so much compared to the years I didn’t have them.

For science, before the school year started, I got a big zip lock bag for each unit.  I went through all the lessons and gathered all the non-perishable things that I needed for all the lessons and put the stuff in the bag.  I wrote anything that I needed on an index card and put that in the bag.  When we got to the unit, grabbed the bag, found the index card of the rest of the stuff I needed, and did the lessons.  So much time saved from having everything gathered ahead of time.  
 

I did similar for all the other subjects too - gathered all the books for each unit and kept them together.

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No breaks. 

The problem with breaks is getting everyone back and refocused.  I found it better to arrange things so that the hardest and least palatable work occurred first and then we would alternate between hard and easy desk work followed by any hands-on activities (not every day) to work done on the couch (read alouds and videos mostly, but we would also do writing there too). 

So the overall trend each day was difficult to easy, disliked to liked, and desk to hands-on to couch. 

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Oh, and with regard to sharpening pencils--we used mechanical pencils, which eliminated the sharpening issue.

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2 minutes ago, EKS said:

Oh, and with regard to sharpening pencils--we used mechanical pencils, which eliminated the sharpening issue.

My kids drive me INSANE with mechanical pencils. It's like a secret sport where I swear they try to see who can keep snapping the lead off and how far it will fly while doing handwriting and math. Frixion erasable pens have been my solution to it all, LOL. 

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2 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

My kids drive me INSANE with mechanical pencils. It's like a secret sport where I swear they try to see who can keep snapping the lead off and how far it will fly while doing handwriting and math. Frixion erasable pens have been my solution to it all, LOL. 

Or the clicking! Argh!

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Don't buy cheap pencils or pencil sharpeners.  All those cute pencils the kids get as party favors or at Valentine's Day parties? Those pencils are crap! Throw them away and get Ticonderoga pencils.  Order a vintage Panasonic pencil sharpener off eBay.  I have one like this.  They work great and never die. 

We had all sorts of cute pencils and funny little sharpeners and they were all junk that chewed up pencils.  Every new electric sharpener I bought died within 6 months. The combo of good pencils and a workhorse sharpener has eliminated all pencil-related drama in my house. 

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Keeping fidgets around. Having appropriate, quiet small toys/fidgets easily accessible has made it easier for my kid to stay focused when taking online classes or doing anything that requires sitting still and thinking.

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6 hours ago, MissLemon said:

Don't buy cheap pencils or pencil sharpeners.  All those cute pencils the kids get as party favors or at Valentine's Day parties? Those pencils are crap! Throw them away and get Ticonderoga pencils.  Order a vintage Panasonic pencil sharpener off eBay.  I have one like this.  They work great and never die. 

We had all sorts of cute pencils and funny little sharpeners and they were all junk that chewed up pencils.  Every new electric sharpener I bought died within 6 months. The combo of good pencils and a workhorse sharpener has eliminated all pencil-related drama in my house. 

Oh I know!  They bring home "fancy" pencils as prizes, but the pencils have a plastic sleeve on them.  It jammed the pencil sharpener with thin strips of plastic.  I was able to clean sharpener, but I threw all those pencils out.  I felt like such a meanie, throwing away the super hero pencils.  Glad I am not the only one.

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Someone here talked about having bouquets of sharp pencils around the house,  which she'd "deadhead" periodically.  I love that. If a pencil breaks in the middle of a math page, I just hand the kid a new one. There's no delay of game, no loss of focus.

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16 hours ago, EKS said:

No breaks. 

The problem with breaks is getting everyone back and refocused.  I found it better to arrange things so that the hardest and least palatable work occurred first and then we would alternate between hard and easy desk work followed by any hands-on activities (not every day) to work done on the couch (read alouds and videos mostly, but we would also do writing there too). 

So the overall trend each day was difficult to easy, disliked to liked, and desk to hands-on to couch. 

 

I agree with no breaks for younger kids, but when my kids got older, they needed them.  But 10 minutes max, and probably 8 minutes is the sweet spot.  But that was at the high school level, when they were doing full on chemistry and calculus and needed the mental downtime.

When my kids were little, breaks were the deathtrap of the school day.  Instead of a break, we did like you did: went from a hard subject to something very easy to them (like listening to me read Froma history book), and back and forth.  If I were to let them take a 10 minute break when they were small, and they’d start playing with toys—forget it.  School was either done for the day, or I’d have some angry hornets on my hands.

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24 minutes ago, Garga said:

I agree with no breaks for younger kids, but when my kids got older, they needed them.  But 10 minutes max, and probably 8 minutes is the sweet spot.  But that was at the high school level, when they were doing full on chemistry and calculus and needed the mental downtime.

Yes, I was thinking more for younger kids who tend to run off into the wilderness during breaks, LOL.  

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On 1/9/2020 at 1:53 PM, Garga said:

We use timers. When the kids were little, it was mostly for me. I would have a habit of keeping a subject going too long and fatiguing my students and then the school day would take too long. When I started using the timer, the boys started perking up more because they could see how long a subject would be and would know I wasn’t going to keep them there longer than I should have.

Now, my oldest uses it for himself independently, to keep himself on track and not lose focus.  

 

Our household runs on timers. We've trained the kids from an early age. Sorry, sweetie. It's time to leave now because the timer is going off. Mind you, it's not us, the parents, telling kids they have to do this or that thing, or stop some fun thing -- it's the timer. You can't argue with an inanimate object.

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On 1/9/2020 at 1:11 PM, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I keep a felt backed vinyl table cloth from Walmart on my dining table secured with Binder Clips so it doesn't slide off. Then I write a number line, handwriting models, and any other concepts where models/examples are helpful written with Sharpie on the table cloth. When school is done, you can cover it with a regular tablecloth. When it gets torn up, or you move to something else, (or your kid pokes holes in it with a pencil) you throw it away and get a new one and then put your applicable stuff on the new one. Saves having to rewrite models all the time or losing them- especially since we have no wall space to hang "schooly" type things like models. It's just right in front of them while they're doing their seat work. 

We have a large window right beside our schooling table.  I write these sorts of things directly on the window with a dry erase marker.  Models of french verbs and french pronouns have been up there a long time........  A little isopropanol on a cloth removes the marker completely, even if its been on the window for more than a year......

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Both kids have switched to mechanical pencils with a wide lead (0.9mm Pentel).  They don't seem to snap, even for my lefties who write with a long bit of lead sticking out.

I like a very, very sharp traditional pencil.  I keep a box of sharpened Ticonderogas just for me.   The Classroom Friendly Supplies manual sharpener gets the weapon-sharp (and has lasted us at least 5 years with no signs of wear).

Each kid has an IKEA Raskog rolling cart to house their books and supplies.  .  Not having to search for stuff really helps.

We also use clipboard to make school portable within the house - sofa, bed, floor pillow, etc.

 

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4 hours ago, knitgrl said:

Our household runs on timers. We've trained the kids from an early age. Sorry, sweetie. It's time to leave now because the timer is going off. Mind you, it's not us, the parents, telling kids they have to do this or that thing, or stop some fun thing -- it's the timer. You can't argue with an inanimate object.

You clearly haven't met my son...

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9 hours ago, Jackie said:

Keeping fidgets around. Having appropriate, quiet small toys/fidgets easily accessible has made it easier for my kid to stay focused when taking online classes or doing anything that requires sitting still and thinking.

 

Do you have any recommendations?  I have kids with sensory issues and that actually would help.

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2 hours ago, Evanthe said:

 

Do you have any recommendations?  I have kids with sensory issues and that actually would help.

 

Links are for the pictures, not because these particular ones are anything special:

https://www.amazon.com/Colorful-Spring-Spiral-Wrist-Wristband/dp/B07TP3ZRKL/ref=sr_1_5 These work well both at home and as unobtrusive fidgets elsewhere.

https://www.amazon.com/SPOLEY-Magnetic-Sculpture-Intelligence-Development/dp/B07Y1KVPG9/ref=sr_1_5 Any magnetic sculpture with a base, with the guideline that it is to be sculpted *on* the base, not dumped off.

https://www.amazon.com/Bendeez-Sensory-silent-fidget-classroom/dp/B071P64Q5C/ref=sr_1_3 This is a stupidly high price, but Bendeez are a good option. An economy pack of cheap chenille sticks can also work.

https://www.amazon.com/Neliblu-Sensory-Fidget-Snake-Puzzle/dp/B01N2YRC4J/ref=sr_1_16 We have a few things similar to these.

And then you’ll get tons of hits if you search for “fidget cube” and we have a few of those lying around.

Our key seems to be having a large variety of generally inexpensive fidgets, and switch them out occasionally so there is an aspect of novelty.

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I have a giant white board with everyone's daily work on it. The list rarely changes and looks like:

Name: math, SSR, Latin, writing, Killgallon, cursive, spelling, etc (but in a column instead of a row).

Each kid checks off their work as they finish. My kids act like the hand of God created the list and for whatever reason, they do not argue with it. If it is on the omnipotent whiteboard, it must be done. 

Also on this whiteboard are the daily chores and our read-alouds. It acts like a brain dump for me so that I dont have to remember who did what and who needs to do what. It occupies a prominent position in our living room. 

 

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2 hours ago, annegables said:

I have a giant white board with everyone's daily work on it. The list rarely changes and looks like:

Name: math, SSR, Latin, writing, Killgallon, cursive, spelling, etc (but in a column instead of a row).

Each kid checks off their work as they finish. My kids act like the hand of God created the list and for whatever reason, they do not argue with it. If it is on the omnipotent whiteboard, it must be done. 

Also on this whiteboard are the daily chores and our read-alouds. It acts like a brain dump for me so that I dont have to remember who did what and who needs to do what. It occupies a prominent position in our living room. 

 

I definitely need to upgrade to an Omnipotent Whiteboard. 😂

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I put a small trampoline in the middle of the room and let them jump on it during "listening subjects"

And a few people on here suggested a yoga ball for my youngest instead of a chair- my G-d bless them!!!  It made school soooo much easier for him.

And yes, they can have water bottles on their desks.

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We keep a spinning caddy on the desk which contains: several sharpened Ticonderoga pencils, a rainbow of thin Expo markers, an array colored pencils, glue sticks, highlighters, & several pair of child scissors. 

I keep my “teaching supplies” on a rolling cart. This holds all Teacher Manuals, post-it notes, binder clips, paper clips, brads, notecard rings, a stapler, a 3-hole punch, a single hole punch,  tape, adult scissors, bookmarks, sticky tabs, pencil sharpeners, quad rule paper, & notecards.

Our first year back in the US I bought about double the basic classroom supplies I thought we’d need during back-to-school sales. I have extra Sharpies, Expo markers, boxes of pencils, rolls of tape, staples, post-it pads, colored pencils, markers, boxes of notecards, glue sticks, notebooks... all stashed out of sight, ready to go when needed. If I end the year with plenty of XYZ still left over, no problem - I just won’t buy it this summer. 

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12 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I definitely need to upgrade to an Omnipotent Whiteboard. 😂

 

I would not be able to function without ours!  Seriously.

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Snacks at the table where we do homeschool.   Not only does it keep them from getting up for hunger, but every time my child gets frustrated I suggest they have some "brain food" to get them past it (and it actually works...did you know that thinking actually takes energy, so snacking can actually help with that?   Plus it distracts him just long enough from the frustration to sort of reset).

If snacking doesn't fix frustration, or we hit the "crying and banging head" stage, take a break and do something active for 10 minutes (tag, tossing a ball, jumping on the bed, etc.).

Extra erasers (the kind that go on the top of pencils) nearby just in case their eraser is hard.

Doing the hardest stuff either first thing or right after lunch, so that my son is at his best energy/attention level.

Jumping on the bed while doing math drills.

Something silent for his hands to do, or for him to look at,  while listening (my son was slow to pick up reading, and keeping his attention while I read to him was hard sometimes). 
 

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Similar to many, I’ve got the big cup of pencils on the counter which I periodically go through and sharpen. I also bought a bunch of pencil top erasers, and when the pencil erasers are gone I pop on an eraser, because otherwise either she won’t erase, or spends ten minutes looking for the big eraser. This cup of pencils has saved hours of wasted time, I’m not exaggerating.

Theoretically all school supplies and books should be stored in the cubby in the hutch next to the school table, but in reality we still lose 10 minutes every time she realizes that oops, it’s in her room, and apparently there is a time- sucking vortex in there that will trap her every time she sets foot in there, even when I can clearly see the missing item on the floor.

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17 hours ago, emba56 said:

Similar to many, I’ve got the big cup of pencils on the counter which I periodically go through and sharpen. I also bought a bunch of pencil top erasers, and when the pencil erasers are gone I pop on an eraser, because otherwise either she won’t erase, or spends ten minutes looking for the big eraser. This cup of pencils has saved hours of wasted time, I’m not exaggerating.

Theoretically all school supplies and books should be stored in the cubby in the hutch next to the school table, but in reality we still lose 10 minutes every time she realizes that oops, it’s in her room, and apparently there is a time- sucking vortex in there that will trap her every time she sets foot in there, even when I can clearly see the missing item on the floor.

Is ours the only house where pencil top erasers are not an option? Dd absent-mindedly destroys them within a day of being pulled out. I rarely catch her doing it; I mostly just find the remains.

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Backpacks/bags for every separate out of the house activity/class. We have hooks to hang them on. Usually DD has at least 2-3 in a given year, and some years as many as 5 or 6, and I usually have several as well for things like tutoring, piano teaching, library books, etc.

We get at least 3-4 totebags or backpacks a year due to conferences, summer programs, workshops etc that include them in registration. Big, reasonably roomy ones become shopping bags, but there are plenty that are more like Briefcases or laptop bags.  And they never wear out when you’re only using them once a week, so rather than repack and forget stuff, things stay in the bag, are taken out, used, and then put back. 
 

 

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