Monday, August 12, 2013

How Our First Week Went

Well!  It went well.  Surprisingly so.  As we inched closer to the start date, I could only wonder how this would work.  Our daily summer routine was less than ideal.  How could I devote 4 hours to school work (at least, aspire to that devoted block of time) plus feed and provide basic care for my 3 young children?  I was already worn down, overwhelmed and always feeling behind in housework, and now, let's educate my child?  On paper, not a logical move.  The decision had been made, and so, I unpacked my materials, prepared for Day 1, and prayed.  And something happened.  I got up and even though I failed to beat my early riser, chose not the let that bother me.  TV stayed off, and we ate our cereal, and got the kitchen clean.  We got dressed and began at 8:30--us! 

I turned on the music CD that came with my curriculum and "Your a Grand Old Flag" began to play in the background as the we finished getting ready.  We said the pledge, and then, it happened.  God showed up.  I mean it.  We got down on our knees, Mom and kids, and thanked God for our country and the freedom to do exactly what we were doing.  And it was just right.  I hadn't planned to do that--kneel with my kids-- I was just struck by it. And it occurred to me that in all my praying over them, I had never taken that posture with them as active participants.  Lesson 1 and it wasn't even 8:45.

Our basic schedule that is evolving is begin by 9, Math concepts lesson, snack, music/movement break, read aloud, break outside, baby up and lunch, finish/review letters and math activities.  Sarah usually does the math with us and I always allow her the choice of quiet play later in the day, but she usually chooses to stay with us.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to work 1:1 with J, knee to knee.  And we are doing it!  I told myself that this month would be the "training wheels" period as we learn the curriculum, its pacing, and how to modify.  But my boy is learning!  The first lessons have been on the concepts of big/small, near/far, in/out/above/under and basic patterns.  We use manipulatives to introduce the concept and these are perfect for J.  With the worksheets, we do it together, sometimes with him pointing to an answer, circling or coloring an answer.  I modify things completely his response method such as using stickers to indicate in/out on a picture instead of drawing a more complicated image.  Sure, I'd like to work up to the preferred response method, but if he can grasp the concept, that's the point!  The focus of organized lessons and activities has given structure to our days by providing an impetus to our time together.  My purpose, both to bring J further along academically and bring us into a closer sync, is being accomplished!

And I can see more clearly J's weaknesses firsthand.  Obviously, listening comprehension is a challenge.  Our first stories have been classic tales, like the 3 Little Pigs.  While we have a complete new library of picture books as part of our curriculum, these first weeks are strictly oral reading, which stretches J's comprehension and attention.  He is unable to answer a recall question but I do not doubt that with the support of visuals and repetition this will improve.  We are using an on-level curriculum, so my plan is to track along, modify and slow down and review as needed.  If we do 25 percent of a rigorous curriculum (The Calvert School), I'm happy with that.  But I think we are doing a whole lot more!

We are only 6 days in and I don't want to paint our new homeschool routine as an instant family makeover.  It's not.  But I truly believe it's the start to new, exciting days.

Woo hoo!  We're doing the thing!  Thank you for reading, encouraging, and caring! 

Happy First Days of School!

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