Today we kicked off the 2009-2010 school year a little differently than in the past. Normally we dive right in so excited by the new books and materials. The first ten weeks fly by, but then the excitement wanes. The eyes aren't quite as bright and shiny. The teacher is less diligent. We stick to the schedule, though, and finish with a sigh in the spring.
Well, I'm not sure that all of that can be completely avoided, but I really desire to instill in my kids the desire to learn and take initiative as subjects become particularly interesting to them. Somewhere in the teacher's guides, schedules and outlines, we've lost an element of fun.
Here's some of the changes we'll be making. The older girls are moving to a computer taught math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks. Something tells me that the Mr. Roger's sounding voice explaining fractions is going to be much more instructive than the toe tapping mom. I'm going to be deliberate about integrating their subjects. Reading, writing, drawing... about their science and history topics. Also, we'll be blocking our subjects and not striving to do everything every day.
This year, much of my energy is going to be focused on reading with and to the younger kids. They are all on the verge of stepping up a level in their reading skills and I don't want to miss this prime time. Once a child can read, the world opens up.
We began this morning around the table with a pancake breakfast. It was fun to have Hannah with us. She'll be off to her new school in just two more days. We decided that we'd like to have breakfast together as a family before she leaves for school each morning. This will be a first, since we've always just eaten breakfast in shifts.
We spent the next hour creating something for a time capsule to be opened on the last day of school. Each page contained a drawing or written answer. The topics were: What are three things you are good at? A self portrait. What do you dream about doing? What will you do this year to improve in one area? They were really thoughtful. I'm looking forward to our end of the year party and revisiting the time capsule together.
Next, we went up the white board and brainstormed about the daily schedule, rules, chore rotation, quick lunch/snack ideas, field trips.... We organized the binders and books. I taught the older girls how to record their own grades on Homeschool Tracker, We determined the theme of the year to be, "Responsibility, Accountability, Independence."
And finally, we spent the afternoon at the Downtown Library. I taught (and retaught) some kids how to find books in the library. We left with some great resources to compliment the first chapters that we will begin tomorrow.
The consensus on the way home was, "Wow! This was the best first day of school ever!"
Here they are. The students for 2010-2011: