School Has Begun!

The official start of school was yesterday, and it is going great guns!!!  There was blood, sweat, and tears!  OK….maybe not blood, but definitely sweat and tears.

We began with a unit study on Self Control.  We have a Self Control Goal (complete with posterboard) for the next 6 weeks.  We have to get 110 stars AS A FAMILY  for going above and beyond when it comes to Self Control.  This includes Controlling our Eating, our Anger, our Thoughts, etc.  It’s close to the end of Day 2, and we have 3 stars.  Almost all of them for Spending More Time on Spiritual Pursuits.

We have a First Week of School Project.  Every day we will be doing something different to celebrate the First Week of School.

Monday – we took the First Day of School Pictures that every homeschooler takes, with the kids holding up signs saying what grade they are in.

Tuesday – today I wrote up the following questions and they had to answer them.

1.  What can YOU do to have a great year this year?  The best answer: Barbie. “I vow to concentrate and reach for good grades.”

2.  What can I do to help you succeed this year?  The best answer: BAM!. “If you see me start to give up help me.” (They all had answers similar to that, so I need to do more encouraging.)

3. What do YOU hope to learn this year? The best answer: Eyes. “I hope to lean about God.” (misspelling is his)

4. Our family should be ____________________ every day! The best answer: Kissy. “I think our family should be respectful all the time to one anothe everday.” (misspelling is hers)

5. School is important because __________________. The best answer: Barbie. “School is important because it teaches you how to survive the business world.”

Wednesday – we will be creating our own “Twitter” accounts (fake)

Thursday – each child will be summing up his slogan for the day of his twitter account….in other words, creating a “tweet”.

We started our Language Arts books, and Barbie started her English III books.  It’s going to be an adjustment, but I can’t say enough about how much I like the IBLP Language Arts books.  It already has my 2nd and 3rd grader beginning basic outlines.  What a great skill to learn!!!!!!

All 3 girls are loving their individual science classes.  And I’m caught up on grading!  (Minor miracle, I won’t be for long!)

Fellow homeschoolers:  How is YOUR first week going????

 

Homeschool 101: Planning

Now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty as they say.  It’s time to really talk about how to schedule.  *****WARNING:  FOLLOWING CONTENT MAY NOT BE APPROPRIATE FOR ALL HOMESCHOOLS!******

In fact, you may read this and think, “In a Pig’s Eye!”.  Or you may read this and think, I’ll take this idea or this idea and use it, but the rest of it, no way!

The simple fact is, no two homeschools look-alike.  No two homes look-alike.  I have a friend, she came over for dinner the other night in fact.  She has 6 children, just like I do.  But she is not real big on schedules.  She knows what she would like to get accomplished, but for the most part, she follows her children in what they want to learn…and the entire family just digs in and has at it!  And it works for her….wonderfully!!!!!  Her children are happy, they have a love for learning, and they ARE learning!  Tremendously!

My family can not do this (and my friend and I actually had a conversation about this).  I’ve tried the no scheduling thing….I clean and the kids play legos!  That doesn’t work for me.  So I schedule.  I OVERschedule.  I’m trying to do better on this, by the way.  Leaving more room for relaxation and play.  In fact, this year I bought several games for school – just don’t tell the kids they are learning games, OK?????

You have several options for scheduling (which I believe I’ve mentioned).  You can school year round.  You can school only when the public schools are in session.  You can do a Sabbath schedule.  I even ran across someone who does a monthly schedule (they school for four weeks and break for one)!

Papi and I have come to the conclusion that we prefer the Sabbath Schedule.  We school for 6 weeks, then take a week off.  We do that six times, with several weeks off during Christmas (this year we are actually taking off the entire month of December). This actually gives us a 7 week Summer Jubilee!!!!

Once you’ve figured out about what your schedule is going to look like, you can actually plan it out.  I have done the planning for the entire year before….but it really doesn’t work for me.  I get very stressed if something doesn’t go according to plan….especially if someone is running behind on something.  So this year I have a NEW PLAN.  You ready?  It’s pretty revolutionary (tongue in cheek).  I’m going to only plan for each Unit.  In other words, in the week I have off….I’ll plan in general for what we will do the next 6 weeks – and do more intense planning the Friday before we actually do that week.  Did I confuse you?  Ok – let me break it down. 😉

I have a planner.  I know what I want to get accomplished for the 6 weeks.  I want to go through the entire Wisdom Booklet and the kids to get through the Language Arts that goes with the Wisdom Booklet.  AND I want them to work in Math, Keyboarding (for the girls), and Science (for the girls).  So this will be what my scheduling looks like.  During Sabbath week I will read thru the Wisdom Booklet and plan what week we are doing certain things.

So I will have a title each week for Scripture/Music, Resources (that’s what we are working on in the WB), Projects, Additional Studies (Language Arts, Math, Keyboarding, and Science) and Other (this is for Service Projects, play dates, other stuff that is going to be done that week).

I will read thru my Wisdom Booklet, making special notes of supplies I might need to purchase for each week, Picking Memory Verses we will be working on, researching books to pick up at the library and finding fun hands-on projects to drive the points home.  I will write it all down in pencil in my planning book in my “Notes” section.  I will check where everyone is in Math, Keyboarding, and Science and decide where I would like them to be by the end of the unit.  If they need something particular for a science project, then I will put that down in my “to buy” section as well.  Believe it or not, even with 6 kids…this usually only takes me a couple of hours.  I easily get this done during the first two days of our Sabbath break.  If I need something I know that I can’t get at the local market, i’ll order it (if budget allows) right away.

So within a couple of hours, I have a more specific idea of what is going to happen in the next 6 weeks.  Then each week (Friday or Saturday), Papi and I take about 1/2 hour together and really go thru what we will be doing the next week.  We scan through everything, we even plan our family devotions out for the week so that they reflect our focus for the week.  We break down what we will be doing each day, including family projects, individual projects, and final quizzes.  After that, I take about 1/2 hour to get any extra stuff set up that I need to….items for crafts, maybe a poster board with our Character Focus and goal or if we will have an extra focus.  Then I’ll go through their Math, Keyboarding, and Science, and write what I would like them to accomplish for the entire week.  And finally, I write down the plan for each day in Language Arts.  This will take me about 1 to 2 hours.  Sometimes I break it into 2 days, just for my sanity. 🙂

Now I want to warn you.  And this is something that I really need you to hear.  So If I’ve said it before, it bears repeating.  Homeschool is NOT Public School at home.  Let me say it again….Homeschool is NOT Public School at home!  Please, as you are making your day-to-day schedule, don’t make your kids work for 8+ hours.  They don’t need to do so!  Public school is 8 hours because they have 28 kids in a class. Several years ago I read several books by Charlotte Mason and I truly LOVE the way she does school.  NO CLASS should be longer than 15 minutes.  Except math, and that should only be 30 minutes.

I don’t have the minute to minute schedule made out for next school year, yet, because things have changed A LOT in the last couple of months.  But I do have an idea of what a day MIGHT look like, so I’ll give you a little glimpse in the mind of this crazy Homeschool Mama.

We will start school at 10 am.  We will work in our Wisdom Booklet (together) for about an hour.  But….WAIT….you just said no more than 15 minutes.  You are right.  I did.  We will work on music for about 10 minutes.  Then we will be taking turns reading in whatever resource.  Some weeks that will be in Greek, or really working on tearing apart our scripture.  It could be that we’ll be working in History or Geography or Anatomy.  It really depends on that Wisdom Booklet. We read together, someone reading, taking turns.  So the older kids are reading to the younger, and the younger are working on their reading skills.  I will also be asking questions.  And we will get up for a cleaning stretch midway…so we won’t be sitting for long!  At 11 am, I will assign everyone their projects for the week on Monday and they will all scatter into different rooms to work on them. They will work for about an hour, I’ll be making lunch and answering questions all the while.  They get 45 minutes for lunch, then we do a 15 minute pick up and we’re at it again.  I’m not really sure how it will go from 1 – 2 but I know that each kid will have math for 30 minutes every day.  Some days kids will be working in Keyboarding or Science for 15 minutes.  And everyone will have to work in Language Arts for at least 15 minutes per day.  I have to work out how I’m going to do it, and it really depends on how their Language Arts Levels work out.  I already know that Smarty Pants and Eyes are in the same level, I haven’t tested the other four yet…that’s on my “to do” list.

Then that’s it!  Anything they need to work on after that is their choice (teaching responsibility and diligence is really important).  I want my kids to be independent learners.  It’s important to me that they work independently successfully.  I know for sure all of the kids will want to go out and play for a little bit, until it starts to rain at least.  Then everyone will come in and continue to work on anything they need to finish….”Homework” if you will.  A lot of times the older girls will take their work into the front yard and do their workbooks or projects outside while waiting for the neighborhood kids to get home from school.  Then they put them in my trunk while they talk to their friends.  I know this because after their friends have had a snack and a drink, played some basketball or soccer, talked a little,  and gone home, the girls forget their books in the trunk and can’t find them the next day!!!!!

I always keep in mind that the goals I have for them are just that…goals.  And not every goal is reached.  That’s important.  As long as the kids are working hard and practicing diligence, I’m ok if we don’t necessarily reach our goals.

I hope this helps a little.  If you are having trouble scheduling, please contact me….I am seriously the scheduling Queen and can help you get it set up.  In fact I have ANOTHER friend (wow – 2 – it’s some kind of record!) that I am actually going to help her plan out her “minute by minute” schedule and how to implement it.  She’s been homeschooling for awhile and is sick to death of fighting with her son and math for 4 hours a day!  (No one is winning and I feel her pain). I’ll be happy to help you as well!