Afternoon check-in is another awesome way to help your homeschool flow more efficiently and positively. It can be used across age-levels and according to learning styles. It has been a tremendous help for this busy homeschool mommy by keeping my independent learners on track and reinforcing concepts with my younger boys.
By afternoon, this mommy is worn out! The brigade is known far-and-wide (well, at least in our community) for its poor sleeping habits. Blame genetics (restless leg syndrome & insomnia from both sides) or bad sleep training, but these boys are early (like 5:30 am) risers, light nappers, and frequent wakers often due to nightmares (active imaginations-a blessing & a curse). Twelve years of sleep deprivation is a horrible thing for a mommy!
When we started homeschooling, we established a nicely flowing Morning routine. Good start to the day & all that-probably helps that we are morning people. But, we just struggled with afternoon and making sure all work was completed & correct. Often times, I would accept their “yeah, Mom, it’s all done” mutterings and try to figure out dinner. I felt horrible about it after the fact, but couldn’t break out of the bad rut.
If you homeschool, you know the amount of energy that goes into lesson planning, teaching, and prep work. Throw in everyday life with its household chores & errands…there are often days where no amount of coffee can keep my head straight by afternoon. What has been this mommy’s solution? (drumroll, please…)
I use Afternoon Check-In to connect with my boys and review of their daily work. It only takes a few minutes per boy. We are able to quickly review concepts, ensure work is completed, and prepare for the next day.
Homeschooling multiple kids in multiple grades means lots of lessons and school work to go over. Before Afternoon Check-In, I would feel so disorganized and miss checking on important items in the boys’ school work. Often times, I would be so tired that I would even let it slip-only to realize the next morning that I missed checking on an assignment (or three). Then, that boy (or boys) would need to make corrections to the previous day’s work and move on (with some grumping!) to do that day’s assignment. It would extend the school day, leading to a more tired mommy who then missed checking assignments…and so the downward spiral began.
After taking a realistic look at our homeschool, I set aside some precious planning time to devote to solving the problem. Boy, am I glad that I did! I was able to really consider what our brigade needed and incorporate the goals Coach and I have for our family.
We want to encourage self-motivation and responsibility with the brigade. I am sure that you can relate-the more your children can do independently, the more time you all have for learning and fun. Afternoon Check-In has helped our homeschool by keeping us all on track with daily assignments and responsibilities.
Afternoon Check-In will more than likely look different for each homeschool-just like Morning Gathering does. Each homeschool has its different members with different learning styles and schedules. Consider the following list of factors when planning your Homeschool Afternoon Check-In.
Factors to consider when planning & executing your Afternoon Check-In:
1. learning styles: What types of learners do you have? Our Morning Gathering series addressed this topic here.
Check in with your child in the way they learn best. For example, our Smiley is quite the performer. He enjoys putting on a puppet show and telling me all about his day and what he learned in a play-like fashion. Perhaps an auditory learner would like to sing a song to you about what they learned. A visual learner may like to show you a worksheet they completed or draw a picture.
2. # of students with independent work: Skipper and Professor have a few subjects that they are able to do on their own most days. They (usually) just go down their checklists and do great jobs. I still need to go over their work with them-to make sure they understand the main concepts, point out any finer points that they might have missed, and encourage them to recheck work for corrections to be made.
3. # of students who work with mommy: I never want to ignore or forget my prereaders and younger boys! Learning basic concepts like letters and numbers is so important in the early years-and really happens all day long. I realized how important it was to check-in with my little ones to review and reinforce the concepts that they encountered that day. A few extra minutes at the end of our school day to review daily lessons with our little ones has drastically increased their retention of facts and skills.
4. What will be included? Just school work? Chores too?: Will you include all subjects or just a few? Will you have only school work, school-related chores, and/or chores? I check in with the brigade on school work and chores at this time-just easier for me to evaluate where we are and what still needs done. Also, I had found myself cleaning up their supplies and prepping for next day. Now, they know to complete their duties (and help mommy out in the process!).
5. duties for clean-up: Will each child be responsible for their own materials? Will an older child help a younger child (or vice versa)? Or will it be a group endeavor? The brigade works on the buddy system-older boy helps a younger one-most efficient system for us at this time.
6. duties for next day prep: same as above-individual, buddy system, or group duties?
7. corrections: If corrections are necessary, when do they need to be completed by? Is assistance needed? More instruction in that area? What is acceptable work (perhaps provide example of )?
8. bonus for helping others when done?: if a child’s work is completed & corrected, do they have potential to earn “a bonus”? In our family, media/tech time is huge. Boys love the chance to earn a few extra minutes-and I love the extra help!
9. types of encouragement: What type of encouragement (rewards) will you give? Stickers, chart, verbal praise? The brigade can earn a “jewel” (see Tech Time Motivational Chore Chart for how Busy Boys Brigade does it!) for extra media/tech time-big incentive in our home!
Afternoon Check-In Help
So, great idea-but how do you make sure you actually do Afternoon Check-in? I wanted an easy way to remind myself and the brigade of what needed to be done so I created these bookmarks to keep us all on track with Afternoon Check-In.
For older students who can read and do independent work:
I showed this bookmark to my prereaders prior to use to explain what it was and what the symbols meant. I found that this preview of the bookmark helped my little ones to understand what to do better.
Here is a DIY bookmark. Smiley is in-between; he is getting better at reading but not ready for the older student bookmark. I created this blank checklist bookmark to fill-in as needed.
I made a few copies of each bookmark sheet, laminated, and cut into individual bookmarks. I left enough room on the bottom of each bookmark to place small stickers-helps keep track of successful day and give encouragement. Also, like with all new things with the brigade, I previewed our new Afternoon Check-In system with them. I explained the who , what, when, why, where, and how. It took a few days for it to stick but it seems to be working well for us.
As with all things, I think it will be important to be flexible and adjust Afternoon Check-In with changes in our lives & in our homeschool. I am planning to our Afternoon Check-In about every three months (just like I do our Morning Gathering) & make adjustments as needed.
**UPDATE: One important step that I totally forgot to include in Afternoon Check-In is prayer! (big slap to forehead!) We start our day the right way-so what better way to end & thank God for His love, grace, and glory?!?! I plan on having all boys gather and say a group prayer to thank God for His blessings for the day. An extra prayer never hurts, right? 😉
Thanks so much for stopping by and reading about how we use Afternoon Check-In to efficiently evaluate and encourage in our daily homeschool work!