Monday, January 10, 2011
Building Good Habits to Make Independent Students
During the last week while I was fighting a cold and didn't feel like doing anything I observed how much my students do on their own. I'm speaking of my 7, 9, and 10 year old children. One morning I slowly made my way through breakfast and just sat at the table contemplating going back to bed when I realized that if I just sat there they would do most of their work on their own.
They found the websites they are using for math and spelling on my desktop and the laptops and started working. When they finished the computer work they started reading and practiced handwriting and then they were done with all of their independent work.
As I sat there thinking about why they were working I realized it was out of habit. They are used to doing certain things every morning and now they do it automatically. I am going to work on building more good habits so that more of their work will become just another part of their day. I chose one habit to establish each month for the next six months. I will share my plan with you.
Habits to establish:
January Goal- Read a chapter of the Bible at the beginning of school time and after breakfast on every non-school day.
Habit Builder- The children and I will take turns reading aloud until we have covered a whole chapter. Gradually we will read less aloud until they read a chapter to themselves each day.
February Goal- Quiet reading time after dinner(evening meal).
Habit Builder- Everyone will work together to clean up the kitchen and pick up the house and then head to the living room to read for at least 30 minutes. I will make some tea and have blankets and pillows available to make a cozy atmosphere. I think a basket of special books and magazines that are only brought out for the evening will be a nice touch for the children.
March Goal- Drawing practice after lunch break.
Habit Builder- I will keep the drawing supplies set up in a safe(from David the graffiti artist) but accessible area. We will start our afternoon school time with drawing. I am planning a magnetic display wall so they can post their work.
April Goal- Write their daily notebook page with minimal help.
Habit Builder- The first week I will require them to write one sentence on their own. Each week I will have them write a little more until they are writing 3-4 sentences without much help. I will correct misspelled words and post them on the spelling wall and add them to their spelling practice.
May Goal- Graduate from daily flashcard practice.
Habit Builder- I will have to start this goal now. I will quiz each child at least once per week and make sure they are spending adequate time studying flashcards. As we move closer to the goal date I will quiz them more often and encourage them to quiz each other. I think a special reward will be appropriate after they have achieved this goal.
June Goal- Independent math
Habit Builder- I will train them to set up their math problems on graph paper, teach them how to read the Saxon lesson, and work the problems. I will also train them to turn their work in each day and to correct any problems they missed the previous day before they begin the next lesson.
I hope I have the patience and will to do this. I will have to keep the end goal of more independent students in sight. We will all benefit from accomplishing these goals!