When we officially started homeschooling last year, I promised that it wouldn’t “take over” the blog…
This year, I thought it only fair to warn you that I may need to amend that promise, just a little bit.
No, I will not be turning this into an all-homeschool, all-the-time sort of site.
But, home education, and the discipleship of our child (soon to be children!), is something that we, as a family, hold very strong convictions about, and therefore it is a part of our lives – a big part. And, it will continue to be a major component of our days and weeks…at least for the foreseeable future.
So, while I can still promise you that it will not “take over,” I do believe it will become something of a regular topic. If you don’t want to read about it, that’s fine. Just skip it. I don’t mind! I don’t read every homeschooling post I come across in my blog reader either (and I enjoy reading about homeschooling!).
That being said, on to the “real” post:
This was our first week of First Grade. I’m still not entirely sure how this is possible, but apparently, it is.
In addition to being our first week of school, it was also our first week of using a new curriculum, and our first week of operating on this schedule in its entirety. (We’ve been easing into it somewhat over the last few weeks, but obviously, without school in the picture, there were some rather large chunks of time left unaccounted for.)
Tuesday, our first day of school, was a bit different, and didn’t go exactly according to plan…which was totally expected. So, maybe it did go according to the plan? Either way, school took quite a bit more time than I had “allotted” on the schedule, simply because everything was brand new. This wasn’t your typical new school year, new grade, new textbooks kind of brand new… No. We changed everything – the curriculum, and as a result, pretty much our entire approach to school. So, in addition to simply introducing each new book, the whole concept required some rather lengthy explanations too.
But, at the end of the day, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, not only had we introduced the new curriculum, and completed each of the planned lessons…I had also finished the laundry – we’re talking washed, dried, and put away – long before bedtime (something that hasn’t happened in quite some time!), and managed to get a decent dinner made and on the table… I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, but it was definitely worth it.
And, the rest of the week has gone just as smoothly! We have all fallen into our new routine very quickly, and we are loving it! It has made each day’s work more manageable, and we much prefer the stability and consistency that operating on a schedule offers. Of course, time will tell, but right now, it even appears as though our current school day will accommodate a newborn’s eating and napping habits relatively easily! (And, if not, it is an adjustment we will happily make!!)
Math and History seem to be tied as Hannah’s favorite subjects this week. Math is just a review right now, so we’ll see if the enthusiasm remains once the assignments increase in difficulty. And, she has really enjoyed coloring and learning about maps during our history lessons… And we are looking forward to discovering the “New World” with Christopher Columbus, meeting the Indians, visiting Jamestown, celebrating the First Thanksgiving, and going on adventures with other explorers.
At one point, on our first day, I asked Hannah if she was ready for a break…as we had been working for a few hours straight. Her response? “No, no! I love school!” Most of the week was punctuated by statements like this…
“Oh yay! I love History!”
“Do we get to do Math today?
“Really? I get to cut and glue? Crafts are my favorite!” (This was a simple workbook page.)
“Mom, school is so much more fun this year!”
I already have to revise our history lesson plan! (A good problem!) When I originally made the plans, I based it on the curriculum’s recommendation of how much material to cover each day. But, I somehow missed the little notation that said each lesson could easily be taught in one day, and did not necessarily need to be broken down over multiple days… I realize that this is only the first week, but after working with it a little bit, we can definitely cover far more than what is suggested. (We will be alternating our History and Science lessons, and this should allow a little more flexibility in the scheduling!!)
Reading was one of the main areas of frustration – for both of us – towards the end of last (school) year. So, even though I only have one student, and you could say that I know her pretty well, I went ahead and did an “Informal Placement Evaluation.” This curriculum is designed for use in a Christian school classroom, so this particular evaluation is supposed to be used place students into appropriate reading groups. But, we went ahead and did it anyway, to see if it would help me to better identify areas where she was struggling, and figure out which areas needed more attention this year.
Boy did it!! Here is what I discovered…
One of the things we (I) was doing “wrong” last year was having her read out loud before reading silently. I did this to ensure that she was reading/pronouncing the words correctly, as I did not want her “practicing” the wrong way. But, I realize now that I probably should have reversed the order (once she had developed a solid grasp on the sounds, and blends).
As long as she is reading aloud, her pronunciation and comprehension is great. She can explain what she read, tell me what happened in the story (in her own words), and correct any pronunciation issues. (She sometimes skips letters, or adds in letters that aren’t there, but can usually correct that herself, even before I point it out.)
The problem was with silent reading… Because she wasn’t “hearing” her mistakes, she never corrected them. She just tried to continue reading the story. But, as I’m sure you can imagine, the story never made much sense. So, logically, it would follow that she couldn’t answer (what I thought were) simple comprehension questions.
You have no idea how excited I am to finally understand a little more of where her frustration was coming from! So, we are going to be focusing in on reading silently – with comprehension – this year. And, even in the last few days, I have already seen tremendous improvement!! She can now read the instructions on her workbook pages on her own, and then go on to do the assignment correctly! She can also read a story silently, and answer simple questions about what she has read. (And, when she can’t, it is much easier to figure out why, and where the confusion is coming from!)
So, all in all, a great week! Dare I hope that every week is like this? No, I’m not that naïve. I know that there will be sick days, and cranky baby days, and ministry days…and other days that I can’t even imagine, or plan for, right now. But, if this week is any indication of the year we are in for…I can’t wait!!
Fellow homeschoolers, how was your week? Share your week, and see what others have been up to, over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!