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What's the best homeschooling thing you've done/used (warning hc)


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I was wondering what was the best thing you've done or used for homeschooling. Not just limited to a particular curriculum (although that is certainly welcome). But also, a different way of doing things, a particular field trip or activity.

 

I think that for me, the best thing right now is do make up a weekly schedule of math, writing, language etc to go along with the weekly schedules from Sonlight that we're using this year. I'd tried using a computer based scheduling program but that didn't work well for me. However, just laying it out in a table seems to be keeping me on track and also hold me back from just adding on a never ending supply of more assignments.

 

The kids have actually been getting up on their own and starting on the school list without having to be told to. This is just unheard of in our house.

 

So what's one of your best things.

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I find that the days go more smoothly if the boys run for half an hour during the morning (in addition to their martial arts classes). I'm also not good at remembering to go on field trips, so now I make sure that we go on at least one a month.

 

Laura

 

Ooohh. What are the most memorable trips that you've done. (We're in Asia now, so I'm trying to make a list of what I might even like to do and see.)

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Using a full curriculum at one point for each child, including a virtual academy for the one, is hands down the best thing I've done. It was just under a year for one child and almost a year and a half for the other. But it was just what we needed :)

 

What do you think made it a good fit at those points in time? Did if fit better with your family situation, like moving? Or did it match up with something that the kids needed then?

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My favourite is still our nature walk around The Peak in Hong Kong. We also went on a week-long field trip to Xi'an, to see the terracotta warriors and more.

 

Our recent favourites were to St Andrews Castle, and the public observatory in Dundee.

 

Laura

 

Cool. I have to come up with a list of places to visit before we have to go home. DH will probably only get to come on one or two of them with us. I'm thinking that China and Australia would be pretty cool. But I have to admit that China does feel pretty intimidating for travel. Maybe I need to get more cool travel dvds from the library.

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What do you think made it a good fit at those points in time? Did if fit better with your family situation, like moving? Or did it match up with something that the kids needed then?

 

I think a number of things. Both times were considerably different.

 

The first time, I chose to so I could focus on the other child's needs. However, I was so thankful for the BREAK. I guess I was more burned out that I realized. That child used Abeka DvDs.

 

The second time, life was going haywire. It got MUCH worse. DS had entered a time of explosive progress and I wanted that supported. He gained several years worth of ability in just that one year. What would have been the worst schooling year turned into his best! He used K12.

 

Both were dc's 7th grade years.

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For China, I would definitely recommend taking a tour unless you have a lot of time or are comfortable with the language. Dragonair has good tours (although I don't know what the prices are like these days).

 

Laura

 

Is there anything that you did in China that wasn't as good as you'd hoped?

 

I'm thinking of our day trip to Versailles when we visited Paris. I guess I'm glad to have that image in my mind, but the Hall of Mirrors was under reconstruction and I just found the whole place rather underwhelming.

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Is there anything that you did in China that wasn't as good as you'd hoped?

 

I'm thinking of our day trip to Versailles when we visited Paris. I guess I'm glad to have that image in my mind, but the Hall of Mirrors was under reconstruction and I just found the whole place rather underwhelming.

 

The Great Wall is wonderful (although the bit that tours go to is usually quite crowded). Personally I'd skip the Ming Tombs (mostly empty underground tombs). The Forbidden City is a must see. The Summer Palace is wonderful but I'd try not to join a tour for that - again, it's largely empty, so wandering around is the fun thing to do. You can always tell your guide that you will meet him/her at a specific time. You'll mostly be looking at buildings, as Chiang Kai Shek took most of the best artworks to Taiwan (the National Palace Museum in Taipei is definitely worth a visit!)

 

In Xi'an, there are some fun things in the city (various temples) but the Terracotta Warrior complex is the big thing.

 

Laura

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The best thing I ever did was .... last summer I arranged ALL of their lessons for every subject, every day, with a daily schedule and any worksheets, etc. necessary to complete the work into 4 unit binders and divided by weeks. That way, every Sunday night, I pull out their weekly binders, take out the stuff they did last week and put it back in the unit binder and take out the new week's work and put it in their weekly binder. It takes very little time (except for the summer planning, that took about a week or so) and this is the first year I have stayed completely on schedule!

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1. Routine. Routine. Routine. Our life is about getting school done every day and not about getting to activities. The kids know the expectations and they meet them 'cause that's just what we do. It's routine.

 

2. Memory Work. They know so much just from doing daily memory work. I've got a memory work basket and they quiz each other with the flashcards/lists we're working on every day and the poetry they're working on. They review stuff from almost all subject areas in this way every day.

 

3. Travel. We study and then go see as much as we can.

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Each kid (I have had from all four to just one at home any given year) gets a daily sheet of notebook paper on which, the day before - based on what got done THAT day - I list each subject to be tackled and what is to be accomplished (how many math problems, how many pages of history, etc.) As the day progresses each kid slashes through each subject as it is done to my satisfaction. I make any notes - like "repeat the DVD lesson and tackle different math problems as kid did NOT understand the concept" or "did three extra pages of grammar!Kid forgot to stop!" and after referring to the pages as I make out the next days sheets I keep them, in order, in a large notebook. Should anyone ever care to ask, I have proof of what was done each day.

 

Not that Illinois cares.;)

 

I also keep a running tap at the top of the page - today will be 106/70 - dd has done 106 days of school and has 70 left to go. She likes to see the numbers change as she counts down to "freedom".

 

I might as well ad - after every third item is slashed off - the kid gets a short break. For dd this year walking the dog counts as a subject (to make sure it gets done). She also has math, science, history, grammar, lit, geography, practicing music and/or lesson/band, and "words" (spelling and vocab. mushed together.) Writing comes in as assignments in other subjects, or I pull WriteShop off the shelf. PE is Kyuki-Do 2 or 3 times a week (she is a blue belt).

 

Oh - and NEVER let a kid put off math until last! Do it first (right after walking the dog) when the fresh air (from dog walking) has woken up the sleepy grey matter. ;-)

Edited by JFSinIL
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The best thing I ever did was .... last summer I arranged ALL of their lessons for every subject, every day, with a daily schedule and any worksheets, etc. necessary to complete the work into 4 unit binders and divided by weeks. That way, every Sunday night, I pull out their weekly binders, take out the stuff they did last week and put it back in the unit binder and take out the new week's work and put it in their weekly binder. It takes very little time (except for the summer planning, that took about a week or so) and this is the first year I have stayed completely on schedule!

 

I know that I sometimes misjudge how long something will take - how do you cope with that in your system? Or if a child is not getting a concept and you have to spend an extra week reinforcing it.

 

It does sound lovely to have everything worked out in advance.

 

Laura

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Some of the best things we have done:

 

1. Schedule the subjects. My ds wants to know what is next.

 

2. Start school at 10am. Last year we didn't start until 11:30. We are not morning people and this gives us time to do our own thing and come together in a good frame of mind.

 

3. We bought exercise balls to sit on. They're great for ds, the wiggly kid.

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What has made this year smoother than previous years is a flexible schedule. On Sun. evenings, I make up a weekly sheet for each kid and allow them to work through it during the week. My 7th grader chooses to do writing and math daily and everything else in blocks like history on Mon. and science on Tues. etc. The 2 younger ones usually choose to do a bit in each subject daily but will work ahead if there is something they want to do with extra free time on Fri. For instance this is a half week here since my sister comes today. On Mon. ds7 (2nd grade) did his entire grammar and math for the week, so he could be ready for her.

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The best thing I ever did was .... last summer I arranged ALL of their lessons for every subject, every day, with a daily schedule and any worksheets, etc. necessary to complete the work into 4 unit binders and divided by weeks. That way, every Sunday night, I pull out their weekly binders, take out the stuff they did last week and put it back in the unit binder and take out the new week's work and put it in their weekly binder. It takes very little time (except for the summer planning, that took about a week or so) and this is the first year I have stayed completely on schedule!

 

I really like this idea. I may implement it now and see how it works for us!

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studying the subject. I used to think of the field trip as the grand culmination activity when studying a subject. Then I discovered how much more effective it was to actually do a field trip first, as it really whet the kids' interest to study about that person/place/thing. It also gave them a frame of reference into which they could place their newly-learned facts and concepts.

 

And you probably know this, but ample, rich read alouds should never be dropped fom the curriculum. Always make time for them! There have been several seasons where a math lesson and a great book kept us in the homeschooling arena when we may have otherwise sought another option.

Edited by AuntieM
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Great thread. Thanks!! This is really making me think about things to do better next year.

 

Some things that have helped this year is our homeschool basketball team. We just finished our season Saturday and finished a respectable 3rd. How did this help? Well, with three kinesthetic boys, having practice two times a week made them more aware of getting up and getting their work done. It only took one missed practice to realize it is academics first and recreation second. For us, it made them stay on task much better.

 

Also, for TOG I made unit notebooks. This helped tremendously and I am thinking of doing "workbooks" for everything over the summer. It really kept us on task each week.

 

I also loved using FLL 3 with my youngest. It has been a joy!!

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I know that I sometimes misjudge how long something will take - how do you cope with that in your system? Or if a child is not getting a concept and you have to spend an extra week reinforcing it.

 

It does sound lovely to have everything worked out in advance.

 

Laura

 

Good question. First, I tried to be realistic in setting my expectations in the first place (not always easy for me). Second, we do "regular" lessons 4 days a week and the 5th day is catch up so if someone is sick we can adjust accordingly or if something takes longer, no big deal. Also, the weeks aren't "dated" just numbered. So for instance, if we suddenly need a week off for whatever reason, no big deal, we just hold off and resume the next week. And my daily check-off sheets are on the computer so if ds is really stuck on a math topic and I need an extra week with it, I could go on to the computer, adjust the daily sheet and just move the math sheets to a new week.

 

It isn't a perfect system but I definitely feel more compelled to complete the work since I know what is waiting for us next week and changing things is sort of a pain so I don't unless I REALLY need to, not just because I got lazy one week (which sometimes happened before). ;)

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I know that I sometimes misjudge how long something will take - how do you cope with that in your system? Or if a child is not getting a concept and you have to spend an extra week reinforcing it.

 

It does sound lovely to have everything worked out in advance.

 

Laura

 

I have just started a system where I make up a schedule on the weekend. As life is chaotic at the moment, and any given day we may have to change our plans, we have to be flexible. So I plan for each day. If the lesson goes as planned I tick it off and record in the 'official' book. If not I circle it and carry it forward. Obviously this stacks up towards the end of the week, especially if something has to be repeated, or takes longer to 'get'. i don't worry about this, I just carry it forward to next week. I can see at a glance if we are missing the same lesson (after 2 days missed it becomes the priority subject). The big advantage is that only stuff that HAS been done goes in the official record book!

It also helps that I have streamlined things for this time in our lives. MUS, IEW DVD course and Apologia. They play music and draw all the time anyway, and I add in little topic/unit studies as I can.

 

Willow

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Warning homeschooling content

 

 

:lol::lol::lol:

 

As for subjects, the best things for us have been Latina Christiana, Classical Writing, and Professor B Math. It's huge for me that my children have not acquired my math phobia, even though I'm the teacher.

 

As for methodology, the best thing for us is that I vowed to begin every day with Math and Latin, before anything else. This really keeps us on track. And the children view those subjects as inevitable as the morning sun--automatic. We also have a basic routine of subjects that we follow most days, and that helps keep things moving (even if I'm not in the mood, momentum keeps me going).

 

ETA: Another good procedure has been buying labels for my laser printer to print Homeschooling in the Woods timeline figures on. I do this in one fell swoop in late summer for the whole year. Otherwise, the timeline Would Not Happen. But since they are printed and simply need to be colored and stuck on the timeline, I do them!

Edited by WTMCassandra
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Enrolling my kids in Columbia Virtual Academy for numerous reasons:

 

1. Keeps me accountable. We actually get stuff done now.

 

2. They pay for some of our curriculum (ofmy choice) which means we can actually get decent curriculum that works for us rather than being stuck with doing it myself or using what we have whether it works or not.

 

3. Pays for DS's taekwondo which he LOVES. He wants to get his black belt and become an instructor. We could never afford classes for him otherwise.

 

4. Pays for DD's art classes which she's enjoying. She's been begging me to teach her to draw but I just don't know how to translate my knowledge to kid-appropriate instruction. Finally, she gets to learn to draw.

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Cool. I have to come up with a list of places to visit before we have to go home. I'm thinking that China and Australia would be pretty cool.

 

Nah, Australia is boring. Big, dry place with a rock in the middle ;)

 

 

 

Ok, it isn't boring and it's a **** impressive rock. The best way to see this country is to road trip. No need to come to Bendigo, but if you do, I'll vacuum the floor so you've got crash space, alright.

 

 

:)

Rosie

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I think that the best thing I've done, is to take full advantage of the flexibility that home schooling offers. It's been a mental struggle for me (a planner) to go with the flow, and to not get my hackles up when we deviate from The Schedule. It's been wonderful to take and run down those rabbit trails, without pressuring myself (or my student) to maintain pace with other students we know. It's been an adventure to take regular field trips and project days to keep learning fun and hands-on, saving the workbooky stuff for rainy days or never :)

 

Along these lines, our best discovery was how useful our karaoke machine proved to be! My student is a complete HAM, and our preschooler is showing the same tendencies. They love them some microphone LOL, and nothing is more entertaining than a pre-lunch performance of Grammar Rock or the like. We use the karaoke machine to play regular CDs, so we'll often pop classical composers into it to listen to as background music. Recently during our American Revolution studies we were listening to Mozart. My preschooler picked up the microphone and began humming to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. My 8 year old made up his own lyrics to Rondo alla Turca and belted them out unashamed (note: the lyrics centered around the 'ridiculousness of three-digit addition' but it still beat the usual whining!). It's just been a fun way to marry my need for some way to affirm that they are learning what I'm teaching with their need for a creative, fun outlet.

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The best thing I have done is to schedule by goals, not by lessons/time. A few different times over the years I have spent hours creating wonderful daily lesson plans/schedules only to find that they didn't quite fit our style. We would either get too far ahead in one area or have to stop and review in another and therefore fall behind the schedule. I would become frustrated and drop the schedule and go back to "doing the next thing". This has not been ideal either.

Now we schedule by goals. For my ds we set goals in 9 week intervals and dd is set up on 6 week intervals. We talk about what to study, choose books/resources/curriculum and then determine what we think is a reasonable place to get to in the 9 or 6 weeks. My dc know what they need to accomplish weekly to stay on track and so their daily work is more flexible. The goal is to meet or exceed what we had planned. If for some reason the goal is not met we determine if the goal was set too high or if it was due to laziness or some other circumstance.

This has been a great approach for all of us and really gives my dc a say in their education.

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Also, for TOG I made unit notebooks. This helped tremendously and I am thinking of doing "workbooks" for everything over the summer. It really kept us on task each week.

 

 

What to the unit notebooks contain? I'm not very familiar with TOG. I have some notebooks this year for science and one of our history items (Eastern Hemispher Explorer). It has smoothed things out, but I'm curious what your books look like.

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Nah, Australia is boring. Big, dry place with a rock in the middle ;)

 

 

 

Ok, it isn't boring and it's a **** impressive rock. The best way to see this country is to road trip. No need to come to Bendigo, but if you do, I'll vacuum the floor so you've got crash space, alright.

 

 

:)

Rosie

 

:lol::lol::lol:

My family took me to Bendigo when I was a kid- it was a most memorable holiday, panning for gold and learning all about the Eureka Stockade.

 

And yes, that sure is one **** impressive rock stuck in the middle like that. :lol::lol::lol:

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For us, the best thing has been to really look at the needs of the individuals involved. My three dc are very different, and so is my approach to providing the best education for each one. I'm not so committed to any particular curriculum that I will use it with all of my dc - I use what works for each one. That said, the few things that have worked with all of them are FLL, SOTW, Apologia elementary science, A Beka math levels 1 & 2, and GWG. Everything else varies tremendously from child to child.

 

This individual approach works well with scheduling, too. One of mine likes to do math and grammar right away, when fresh, then do all of the "fun" things later. Another does best when starting with the the "fun" subjects, saving math and grammar for 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. The last one likes to do math in the evening. I can put together a reasonable plan to accomodate all of their desires, and everything still gets done.

 

However, it is just a guide, not a written-in-stone schedule. Trying to follow something like the schools use is too stress-producing for us. I'd rather be able to hear a child wonder about a topic over breakfast, run grab a book off the shelf to read something about it to them, and then move on with the plan for the day. Not having time to grab that book for a 10-15 minute read would hamper my joy-of-learning goal for my dc. I know some work well with a very strict schedule, but I don't and neither does one of my dc, so that just isn't the way we do things. We don't have to duplicate the traditional schools or someone else's homeschool for them to get a great education.

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Using RightStart math was absolutely the best thing we've done.

 

Signing up DS 12 for every sport possible was also key. Even so, he used every strategy he could to get his family to play competitive games with him. We were worn out.

 

Reading aloud every day is great. We all love it. And over the years we have built a family resevoir of great literature as some good inside jokes. Right now DS 9 will switch into Gollum-speak at odd moments. We're reading The Two Towers.

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Do you ever have the problem of one of them not wanting to do things earlier, but then having problems actually getting done? I'm having to de-link my kids more this year. The older two have always been taught using the same material, but this year, there is a lot on the computer or independent reading, so there are fewer things that they must or even can do at the same time. (And then there is the youngest, who is doing first grade work and is totally on his own.)

 

But I occasionally have the problem of one being done with the weeks work on Thursday and the other still not being done on Friday night?

 

Any suggestions on how to run different schedules but still keep everyone on track?

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But I occasionally have the problem of one being done with the weeks work on Thursday and the other still not being done on Friday night?

 

Any suggestions on how to run different schedules but still keep everyone on track?

 

Well, at our house, if they aren't done with school work, they don't do their extracurricular activities that day. We have something Mon-Thurs. nights, so that is a huge incentive. The one that's done gets to go. The one that isn't done has to go, too, but sits and works on schoolwork instead of participating. The potential for public embarrassment is a huge motivator. I think it's only happened a couple of times. The child that likes to do math in the evenings always gets it done; but if it were a problem, we'd move it to another time of day.

 

Also, I made it clear to my dc that their Friday co-op is a priviledge, and if their regular schoolwork doesn't get done, we will stop going. They love seeing their friends, so that's a great motivator. Also, they don't have permission to work on their assignments for co-op until their regular schoolwork is done for the day. Again, the potential for public embarrassment is a great motivator in accomplishing everything.

 

All that said, two of mine work very quickly and efficiently, and one does not. However, the one that doesn't is also the one with the greatest interest in social activities and in preserving public appearances, so it seems to work out okay. If we didn't have the consequence of no participation in extracurriculars, I suspect that child would be spending a lot of night and weekend time on schoolwork.

 

Even if you don't have extracurricular activities to hold over their heads, you may find that things stay on track more consistently if you can build in daily consequences for uncompleted schoolwork. No toys/DS/TV/stereo, etc. until it's done, for example, or no playing with neighbors. Whatever works for your dc!

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Hands down, our *one best thing* would be the scripture memory and Bible study we've enjoyed together as a family. I'm fairly certaint that, even with my best intentions, I would not have been able to do this with my kids if they were in school. I've loved, as an adult, memorizing long, beautiful or meaningful passages with my kids.

 

Lots of second bests, but right now: Speech and debate. It's quite an investment of time, energy and funds, but it's been very worth it.

 

Lisa

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I would say that is has been life changing b/c it has changed our homeschooling efforts as well as me as a mother.

 

Nature studies and walks are a norm around here, once a week at least. Through homeschooling, I have found the kind of mother I want to be, the type that best suits who I am and the kids benefit greatly from that. I am forever changed no matter if we homeschool or not.

 

Our time together has more depth than ever before. My outlook is different. So I guess finding a philosophy that fits is key but also getting away from the thought that a curricula is the only answer. Curricula is just a tool, everyone uses it differently and if you get down to it- you can use ANY curricula in ANY way you choose. You can pick the most touted curricula out there but if you don't USE it- what good is it?

 

I put WAY too much emphasis on curricula in the beginning, although I am glad to have researched all that I did to be aware of what is available.

 

Short answer:

1. Charlotte Mason philosophy

2. Weekly field trips/nature walks (if it's raining we go to a museum or something)

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Starting to homeschool was the best thing we've done. My daughter is happier and more confident now that she's learning at home. :)

 

Giving up curriculm that didn't work was also a good move. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But I was so concerned with getting my money's worth, I kept at it despite my daughter hating it. I learned to let go a bit.

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Warning homeschooling content

 

I was wondering what was the best thing you've done or used for homeschooling. Not just limited to a particular curriculum (although that is certainly welcome). But also, a different way of doing things, a particular field trip or activity.

 

A few things come to mind:

 

WTM, of course :) And Bible study along with much group discussion.

 

Selling the TV and cutting off the net and throwing out all electronic distractions (video games, etc)

 

Stopping all outside activities and just staying home and doing school

 

Year-round schooling, taking off as needed, no matter where or when that happens to be

 

Waiting until ds's were 'ready' before really digging into the reading thing ... which kind of goes along with aiming for a goal vs teaching a specific curriculum

 

Reading this board to get ideas for better curr. and other things

 

Turning all chores over to dc - if they can mess it up, they can clean it up - which led into turning the running of the whole house over to them as they've gotten older

 

Turning Fridays into a day for them to work, uninterrupted, on those longer writing/researching type things; or hobbies; or whatever they feel inspired to work on; or library trips, etc.

 

When I came to the realization that the goal was not necessarily that they all go off and work totally independently, all the time, on everything. I learned to get them started and grounded really well in the subject, and then slowly wean them from my help until they were working on their own ... in general. But! I also learned that this is not an all-or-nothing setup; and that whenever I wanted to introduce a particular book and make sure they were started well into it, that it was perfectly OK to round them all back up and do this as a group. Never say never, in other words. ;)

 

Well, they're about to shut all the computers down, so that's all for now.

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