Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Brave New (School) Year

I'd like to say that one day my kids will look back and realize how much thought and effort their crazy momma put into their education... but that is simply not realistic.  The truth is, I think about it every day, all the time.  I orchestrated lessons for them even before I knew we would homeschool.  I just can't help it.  I am a teacher.  It's my thing.  And, as fulfilling and exciting as it is to get a concept through to a class of students, it pales in comparison to being able to focus my love of teaching on my own children.  That does not mean that it's easy.  It does not mean that it is always smooth sailing.  But, the job is so much more flexible, the dress code is totally relaxed, and rewards are so very sweet!

Although the last three years have allowed us to hire awesome instructors to teach classes at the Inman program, and to create a classroom structure with super sweet peers, next year will "bring it back home". The boys are a little sad about the change, but the insane schedule of our last school year has left us ALL wiped out.  None of us want to repeat that calendar full of places to be and things to do.  There was no one program or activity that was at fault.  We loved hockey.  We loved music.  We loved our Tues/Thurs hybrid program.  We loved preschool.  We loved Aikido.  We loved our Mon/Wed math class.  We just also really love to eat at a table instead of a car, to slow down and talk to each other instead of just barking "hurry!  Grab your shoes and move!", and to be still and enjoy the calm.  My kids are homebodies.  This school year had them begging to cut back.  It was simply unsustainable.

Now, we are not losing hockey (at least for Ivey and myself), or music class, but we will be slimming down the time we spend at the 'schoolhouse'.  The only academic subject that will be covered there will be Mr. Dennis' social studies class.  Beyond that, I will be teaching a once per week "Farm Fusion" class for each age group.  This is the girls' social outlet.  The Valentine's Day parties, birthday cupcake celebrations, Easter Egg hunts, the end of the year celebrations.... they will all be comprised of the friends made in the Farm Fusion classes.  I am thrilled that my girls are finally old enough to join in the fun!  So, on Wednesdays, we will have a set day for friends, crafts, and group learning games & activities!

I have been so excited to regain the freedom to team each of my children according to their individual strengths and needs.  As soon as last year ended, I had already made my list of potential curriculum choices for us.  In order to "chill out" more throughout the year, I want to start early.  I know it won't go over well initially, but as soon as those little breaks and field trips start showing their relaxed faces, everyone will be on board.

The girls will begin a year of 1st grade content, which should not be an issue.  They are already both right on track to pick it up.  I will not put myself in a box this year.  Although she is incredibly gifted, Olive is four.  Ivey, who is also a very smart girl, will be 5 until October.  They are not only younger than your typical 1st grader, but they are emotional, spunky, silly, drama-filled perfectionists with patience on par for their age.  We will learn, but we will play.  We will read, add, build, study, and write... but not at the expense of their completely appropriate need to romp and sing and play and be silly.  We will be happy.  How do I know?  Because happiness is a priority.  It trumps formal education, because without happiness and security and love, nothing is retained.

The choices that I have made for the girls' year include:
  • My Days, My Pictures (Journaling.  Used "My Days, My Words" with the boys at age 6/7 and loved it!)
  • A Reason For Handwriting- A (The girls have always been jealous of the boys getting to color "border sheets", so this is going to be a big deal for them!)
  • Singapore Math 1A / 1B (Standards Edition)
  • Life of Fred (Math supplement & Fun)
  • DreamBox Math App/Game
  • First Language Lessons 1
  • Hooked on Phonics 1st grade (1st semester / or maybe just 1st quarter) 
    • Fun, Instant Gratification with Reading, Boosts Reading Self-Esteem, which will ease us into Abeka 1 after a few months.
  • Abeka 1 (Phonics, Spelling, Reading)
  • Wordly Wise 1
  • Science & History.... Through read alouds, chapter books, Magic School Bus, Liberty Kids, Activities, and Field Trips.  The boys will be demonstrating and explaining their science experiments/lessons to the girls with a "science fair" type feel. Then, the girls and I can choose chapter books to read together that explain the concepts from the lesson in an age appropriate way.
  • The boys will be learning world history.  As they do, the girls and I will follow their lead, but with age appropriate books, activities, geography lessons, and field trips.

For the boys, we'll be going back and addressing some weaknesses (handwriting/spelling/writing) while allowing other subjects to run at individual paces.

  • Art of Problem Solving PreAlgebra
  • Wordly Wise 7
  • Handwriting Without Tears (Can-Do-Print & Can-Do-Cursive)
  • Hake Grammar 7
  • Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) B (Student Intensive)
  • IEW Spelling Zoo B
  • World History with Mr. Dennis (Yay!)
  • SuperCharged Science (e-science subscription + experiments + research + demonstration/presentation)
    • Code.org (Asa especially loves this)
    • Online Typing Program
    • Khan Academy (Addison's favorite)
    • Life of Fred (Supplemental Math -Fun)
    • DreamBox (Supplemental Math)

We'll still have hockey, Aikido, and music... but we are all doing our best not to over-extend ourselves.  First grade takes so much energy and effort and .... energy.  I am blessed that my boys are very independent learners, and compliant homeschoolers.  Let's aim for a school year of more hugs, more bacon for breakfast, and more book reading in the grass with the sun warming our backs.  You only get to be 4, 5, and 11 once.... so let's fill it with memorable love, learning, laughter, and still reflection.  I have great memories of the boys and I writing our spelling words across the driveway in chalk, or making the Nile River in the backyard.  I hope to show the girls the same homeschool introduction. 

Let your hair grown down your backs, or cut it off with a number 3 blade.  Wear the same clothes four days in a row, or wear three different princess costumes, simultaneously.  Go barefoot, or wear hard plastic toy Cinderella shoes with no grip.  Wear a hat.  Eat a snack.  Hum a tune.  Just do these things as you continue to thrive and learn, grow and mature, show respect and responsibility, and paint beautifully strong, healthy, inner-self portraits.

And, I will do the same.

No comments: