Monday, August 9, 2010

The First Day of Homeschool

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!"

I agree.

Here they are. The students for 2010-2011:

Lydia- Grade 7

Miriam- Grade 5

Elizabeth- Grade 4

Joseph- Grade 2

Rebekah- K

John- Preschool


Alaina said...

Sounds like the best kind of day! I LOVE the time capsule idea!

Tara said...

Yeah! Happy first day of school!

Michelle said...

I love the time capsule idea! May have to borrow that one for our first day....anything to get them excited to get back into the routine of school. It's wonderful that you are so willing to adapt your school each year to fit the needs of your family!!

Amy K said...

What a great idea to do the time capsule. Meredith would love it! Glad your homeschool year is off to a good start. I'm blessed to know people like you and Ginny who can encourage and give advice.

Heather L. said...

Such great ideas!!! It sounds so fun!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Love this post! What a great way to kick off the year - I might steal that time capsule idea.

Your last three are my first three :) That's fun!

Hope you are having a great week!

Aaron Tague said...

Very cute idea. I am with you- the first 10 weeks are great then we need a change to keep the momentum going :) I am thinking about rotating subject to keep things fresh. . . kind of like blocking but in bigger blocks?

Glad your year is getting off to an awesome start :)

Andrea said...

I just don't know how you do it! (People say that to me and I only have 4 - lol!) The changes you're making sound like they will be very beneficial for you and I hope they will bless this year for you. I LOVE Homeschool Tracker.... as long as I keep it simple. It's really nice for each kid to have their own 'assignment' sheet. They love it but my oldest has trouble 'flexing' from it and I have to keep reminding him that nothing in homeschool is set in stone!
Hope you all settle into a groove and Hannah gets used to school quickly too!