Friday, August 27, 2010

Not All Fun & Games

As we progress into a steady routine of completing lessons and charting attendance, I have already found myself making mistakes as my daughter's teacher.  The responsibilites overwhelm me at times and I can find the tasks daunting.  It's work- physical, mental, and emotional work.

Most parents would assuredly admit to losing their patience when their children consistently disobey or repeatedly interrupt or exhaust their energy.  This is all very true for me, but as a homeschooler, I now have to be constantly aware of my attitude and expectations as I watch how my daughter learns.  Patience, patience, PATIENCE!

I find myself getting lost in checking off items on the agenda.  There's no need to rush to see what subjects we can complete each day.  It's about enjoying the learning process.  I have forgotten that a few times.

We're still learning though.  We're ALWAYS learning.  The mother AND the daughter.   For instance:

  1. I'm figuring out that when she mentally checks out on a lesson, instead of pushing her to finish it right then, I need to remember that's okay to stop and come back to it later. 

  2. I'm finding that some things just take longer to memorize.  If it's new material, I shouldn't expect my daughter to be a genius and grasp new concepts right away.  It doesn't matter if we have to take the time to review before we go to the next thing. 

  3. As long as we're doing it, we're succeeding.  She's learning, and that's the goal.
The beauty of homeschooling is that she can work at HER pace- It's not a race.

I wish it could always be fun though.  While we have to hunker down and work a lot of the time, my internal thermometer lets me know when we need a break here and there.  There has to be time for free play, time to give my son some attention, time to clean the house, time to get creative, time to socialize....

It all takes TIME.  The kids, by their very nature, take up our time.  There are only so many hours in a day to do what we want and need to do. 

And it's a JOURNEY.  All journeys, whether going on a road trip, taking a vacation flight, or hiking a new trail, require perseverence, flexibility, patience, a desire for adventure, and a sense of well as, time.

Today, we decided to journey backwards by starting with the things we like and ending with the things we HAVE to do.  Brody has been wanting to make a lion mask, so that's what we did.

It took some time, but that part was fun :-)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A gradual start

Every day gets a little smoother...

Day 2- We met our online teacher and other local homeschool students in our program.  Then, Bella got to take a behind-the-scenes tour at CiCi's Pizza!  Running the cash register was her favorite part.  Eating pizza was mine :-)

Later we completed our first history lesson.  Bella cut out pictures of animals from different continents and stuck them onto the globe.  It was a review of continents and oceans for her, but she enjoyed it.

Day 3- Bella has been most excited about Science since we first started talking about homeschooling.  And it was quite an introduction to the subject.  She had to learn all new terms for the metric system!  Here we are being scientists:

Even Brody wanted to be a part!

Day 4-  After such a successful day Wednesday (we completed 3 subjects in the afternoon), I decided to see if some outdoor exercise would help the kids calm down the rest of the day.  So we took a bike ride with some friends for an hour, went to the library to get new books, and sat down for Math & Language Arts this afternoon.

It worked like a charm.  Brody's been a lot quieter this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of Homeschool

Because everyone takes a "First Day of School" pic, here's Bella's first day of second grade (minus the backpack)!

So here's the honest truth.  Our first day wasn't the smoothest.  We kept trying to get things done, but then there's a certain little 3-year-old I'm still in the midst of potty training, running around making loud noises.  I attempted to keep him occupied any time Bella & I had to sit down for a lesson, but he moves quickly. 

I had to tell Bella to be patient a few times, because we're going through all these boring orientation sessions so that we understand how our curriculum works.  She can hardly sit in her seat.  Needless to say, there have been a lot of breaks!  We chug, chug, chugged on though, so we can get started as soon as possible on the good stuff!  I can tell Bella's itching to begin ;-)

In an effort to begin routines, however, we woke up at 7:30, got dressed and ready before coming down for breakfast.  After that, we started the day with our "God Time"which introduced the big idea for the month: OBEDIENCE.  Thank goodness for this reminder!  Since I don't have a specific Bible curriculum, I'm working from our church's current theme.  Soon, the kids will enroll in an Awanas program and have a weekly scripture to memorize, as well.  It is an important part of our education to include a little of this in our day.

After many technical difficulties (mostly on our online school's end), we completed just one Literature Arts unit.  I don't feel entirely confident with the program yet, but as I told Bella, "This wasn't a normal day.  It's going to take us a week to get to know how this all works."  So we have to keep going and not get discouraged.  It was just our first day.

Tomorrow's a new one.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Our curriculum

There are so many choices out there for homeschoolers!  There are different learning methods, as well as, curriculum packages.  Our family is excited to try out the k12 curriculum for a few reasons: 

1.  It's free. Our state has set up a public school called the Georgia Cyber Academy, which provides this curriculum for a certain number of students in the state.  When registering for the first time, they set up a lottery if the registrants go over their acceptance cap.  It has actually "become the largest public school in Georgia."
2.  It's organized.  I think every homeschooler would say that getting organized and keeping up with state requirements would be one of the most difficult aspects of homeschooling in the first year.  For me, having GCA take care of my attendance, testing, and documentation requirements is a relief!
3.  There's accountability & support.  We have an assigned teacher who checks in with us and is available to answer questions whenever we need.
4.  There's community.  Because Bella is technically registered as a student in a GA public school, there are up to 5, 000 other children across the state who are using the same curriculum.  We're all connected so that we can meet other homeschoolers her age or go on field trips together.

This our first year, our first try, our first choice.  We may decide that it's not quite what we're looking for, but that doesn't worry me.  There are "much- much, oh, ever so much-much, so muchly much much more" resources out there for us to discover (quote by Dr. Seuss)!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Not our first day

We sat in our driveway at 7:30a.m. to wave goodbye to our neighbors boarding the bus this morning for the first day back to school.  It was slightly bittersweet with a hint of a secret liberation.  While I always liked getting caught up in that back-to-school hoopla of buying supplies, new clothes, and sharing the jittery experience with others, this new feeling of a peaceful transition from summer to school is strangely inviting.

I no longer have to worry about what Bella will wear to school every day, or that she gets to sleep promptly at 8:00p.m. every weekday, or that she doesn't dawdle in the mornings getting dressed and scarfing breakfast in time to be at the bus stop. 

Our mornings are going to less harried, less stressed, less frenzied than they used to be.
Our evenings will be more relaxed, more fulfilling, more peaceful with less pressure to be somewhere every day.

Sure, we will have appointments and playdates and field trips and schedules to rush out the door for.
(I say, "rush out" because I am horrible at grasping how long it takes to do anything.)
However, we're suddenly in charge of what we do and when we do it.  If it doesn't fit a pace we're comfortable with, we'll politely cut that activity out. 

Just like that.

We start homeschooling next week, and I'm not a bit nervous.  Excited, really.  Full of anticipation.  Happy to not be in a hurry. 
Until then we're making the most of a quieter week.  The pool was almost empty today.  I didn't mind :-)

(to be continued)

Photos by Squeezebox Photography.