Tuesday, August 7, 2012

First Day of School 2012

Yesterday was our first day of school. We started so early so that we can have more flexibility throughout the rest of the year to take time off when we need to. And because I've had about as much of summer as I can take. Ben is doing preschool and Tommy is doing 1st grade. He was supposed to do kindergarten this year. Earlier this summer I started planning out my school year for kindergarten and realized that Tommy had 'accidentally' learned about 80% of K material. Oops! That meant I had to switch mental gears and seriously consider doing first grade instead of K. I'm not a big fan of changing plans, so I took this decision very seriously. I researched what a first grader would be learning versus what a kindergartener would be learning. I gave him a 1st grade readiness test from a respected homeschool curriculum company (which he totally aced). In the end, I decided that it would be better for Tommy if we made the jump to 1st grade. However, one thing I need to keep reminding myself is that it doesn't matter so much what I call the grade; it is ultimately more important that I teach him according to his abilities and interests, not what a grade number says I should be teaching.

First Day of School special breakfast and gifts. Their gifts were "cool" pencils and an electric pencil sharpener. The sharpener was really for me; the hand-cranked one we currently own is quaint in theory, but in practice is a perfect place for crayons points to get jammed and for pencil shavings to explode from. I also conducted an interview where I asked the boys various school-related questions. 

Some gems from Tommy's interview:
What do you hope to learn about this year?: "Rocks, like what the clearest rock in the world is. And what the shiniest rock in the world is. I just want to learn all about rocks."
What do you want to be when you grow up?: "A builder."
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?: San Francisco 

And some from Ben's interview:
What do you hope to learn about this year?: "Really cool umbrellas." (huh?)
What was your favorite thing you did this summer? "Camping with our friends."
What can Mommy do to be a good teacher this year? "Be really kind to your kids. Which would be me and Tommy."

Our "schoolroom", which is also our dining room. It's perfect for school because of the long table and tons of wall space for maps and white boards.

I didn't plan on doing real work today. I thought we'd do all the fun "First Day of School" stuff, look at all the new books, go over the new schedule, and then they'd want to go outside to play. But they begged to start work. Being the nice mom I am, I let them do as much handwriting work as they wanted. Which turned out to be twenty minutes' worth. I'm soaking it up because I know the novelty will wear off soon enough!

Our tentative schedule. Each 'lesson' takes 10-15 minutes, so the whole school day should take no longer than 90 minutes (not including the break). I'll probably tweak this as time goes on and we work on our groove.

For those interested in curriculum details: 
This year (and probably for the next few years) I'll be focusing on the 3 Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. I used these three books to get most of my ideas for how to structure my schooling and what information to focus on:
The Three Rs by Ruth Beechick
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

For Tommy I'm using Rod & Staff PenmanshipMath-U-See, and readers from the library for reading practice. In addition, he will be doing narration from Aesop's fables, scripture and poetry memorization, and we'll do read-aloud about science and history once a week. Realistically, it will probably be a lot more often then that, since science seems to be Tommy's favorite subject and since history is my favorite subject. Narration is one of those things that normally wouldn't be done every day, but it only takes a few minutes and speaking is an area that Tommy really needs practice. Ben will be tagging along with Math-U-See and in addition will be using the Explode the Code primer for reading/writing. Both kids will also learn about well-known classical music and artwork.

This post is mostly for my own benefit so I can remember how I did things and either laugh at myself in months and years to come, or remind myself of things that worked well for us. But I hope it gives others some good ideas as well. :)

1 comment:

  1. I love how your schedule doesn't have any times on it. That's kind of how we do it here. Our kids are much older, but I like giving them what they have to do and the rest is up to them.

    I'm stopping by from the Foster2Forever FB group. I didn't see a way to follow you. But I'll be back.