Friday, 7 September 2012

Back At It

It is official. Our 2012-2013 homeschool year has kicked off. The boys are excited. I am jazzed. This is a journey that my children and I are taking together. Even just yesterday watching them learn together brought tears to my eyes. It was a strong affirmation that YES we are on the right path. YES this decision is still the right one.

I could say I was surprised by how well our first days went but I'm not so much surprised as I am relieved. I set fairly low expectations (in a good way). I know there is a lot for the boys to take in. Even in public and private school the first few days are all about review, going over curricula and gearing the students up. That is what the last few days has been. Gearing them up and they are right revved.

I have to say too that there has been significantly less whining and rough housing as well. The structure and routine suits the boys. They need more focus and this is going to help them get it. We are getting our groove and I already feel more confident than I did last year. Maybe I just feel more prepared (found a way to lesson plan that really works for me). 

The vision that I have for our homeschool is taking shape before me and I am loving it. In just a few days I can already tell what some ideal strategies will be for making our homeschool a successful place for learning.

Such as but not limited to:

-Doing Math and LA when Evelyn is sleeping (this requires more concentration from both the boys and myself and I don't want them to miss out on anything, plus when it comes to math manipulative time having Miss Grabby Hands napping is just wise).

-Don't force the day to start too soon. I once had this idea that I could get up by six and have school going by 8. Nope, not happening. Am I bummed? Not really. I don't mind the extra sleep, we can leisurely get up, have a nice breakfast, kids get some early morning energy out. It also makes no sense to be in the middle of things when Daddy is leaving for work. Once Daddy is gone we get ourselves started.

-Don't start the day too late. There is a fine line between too late and too soon. If we start too late the boys have lost their "school drive" and quite frankly so have I. For example we started later today so I skipped our Wind Up. That sucked and nothing else felt right or flowed. Seems as though 9:30/10 is the ideal time around here. 

-Keep activities and lessons short. I think the longest we can probably extend something is to twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes tops with a sweet spot of probably just fifteen. Anything longer than that and I have completely lost my audience. I also have to keep them engaged the whole time or I lose them. 

-Religion class will become an evening activity. I think. I am not 100% on this yet but I feel that bible readings and prayers and learning about our faith make a perfect wind down activity before bed. I like to think that filling their little heads about God and Jesus before bed will make for nice dreams. 

-Don't Cram! Ease Up! Lay Back! Don't forget that patience is a virtue. I have to constantly remind myself to be patient. The more I push the more they will push back. Knowing what and how to push something is becoming a fine art and I am becoming a skilled painter. 

-Let go of perfection. Vik likes to do goofy things when working on sheets. He likes to do it his way. It may say make an X over something but he likes to circle it instead. It won't be unusual to see an angry bird midway through a line of 5s. I know that. I accept that. That is him and I accept him unconditionally. We can work through that. 

With those observations out of the way, how about a bit of a run down of what we did during our first three days. 

My sister had the boys for a sleepover on Tuesday evening (she took them to a corn maze the lucky ducks!).

I picked them up Wednesday around noon and we headed home for lunch which was homemade Mac & Chz with these. Perfect right? After lunch we got a few of our plans underway. We went outside and took our 1st Day of School pix and afterwards we did a little interview of what their favorite things were. This is something I plan on doing each year with them. Here is a peak of it put together.

Then the boys got to go through their buckets. Not so fast though. It was an exercise in listening to directions. I had them pull out specific things to put into their pencil cases and look at their scribblers and binders. Kind of like Simon Says. Mamma Says find your pack of crayons. Mamma Says find your eraser. At the end each were left with a bag of smarties in the bottom. Smarties for my smarties :)

After that we looked through the variety of books we were going to learn from and I told them about the things we would be learning about. They really enjoyed getting a look at the Earth Science book. Every day now (and I am sure until we actually do it) I am asked about doing the volcano. 

That was about it for our first day. Nice and easy. See low expectations.

This was our first full day. The first day where we would really get into things. Some started smoothly, some rockier but everything we started we finished. We began with our Wind Up. Some people call this Circle Time or Gathering Time or Calendar Time. I'll have to do a post on that itself someday soon. 

Snack time followed our Wind Up. Then we got into our Social Studies unit "Who I Am/Where I Am" with a little project I picked up from pinterest. I look forward to sharing it when it is finished. Next we started our History unit about Dinosaurs. I am basing this unit off of the Magic Treehouse Book Dinosaurs Before Dark. We will be taking info from the book, fact checking it, doing some timelines, some colouring, some flow charts.

After that we took a walk around our neighbourhood (which isn't out of the ordinary but did serve a greater purpose in this instance).  We capped off our day with some math. I made a last minute change to my math curriculum plans and will have to fill you in more on that later too. 

As I said before we skipped out circle time and were behind all day. Evelyn slept quite poorly last night and was quite cranky all day with a very short nap which meant a lot of our plans for the day wouldn't get done. Really the only thing we did do was some more activities for our "Who I Am/Where I Am". Today I printed off the map of our neighbourhood and we traced out the route we walked yesterday. This whole unit is for them to develop a greater understanding of where and who they are in the world which will lead nicely into our October unit on Maps/Globes/Compass. 

We didn't hit math today or science or history BUT there in lies the beauty of this whole homeschool thing. IT DOESN'T MATTER. We will do the things we missed very casually over the weekend and be back on pace on Monday without feeling like we didn't get a break or feeling like we got behind. 

Next week is going to be a big week. A full week. This is where the testing of ourselves starts. Testing the limits, boundaries, strengths and weakness of our own person. It is also where the learning really begins. It is where happiness will be shared. 

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