We started school on Monday of this week. Our town doesn't start until Thursday of next week, but it's always around this time that I'm growing tired of our open-ended days and start yearning for some structure. Plus, I love starting so early so we can be spontaneous enough to take days off during the rest of the year and still finish school in mid-May.
This is my first year officially schooling two kids (Tommy for 2nd grade and Ben for kindergarten). Last year Ben had lots of freedom to either join us or not for school, and he usually opted not to join us in favor of doing a craft nearby or just playing in another room.
I had some apprehension about schooling two kids. I wondered how in the world it would work, since both kids are young enough to need me to be very hands-on. Well, it's only been a week, but so far it's been smooth-sailing with two. We'll see how things go the rest of the year.
Another reason I was nervous about starting school this year was because of almost constant power struggles between me and my oldest. Last year was difficult for us at times (okay, it was really difficult at many times). It took me until almost the end of last schoolyear to figure out that:
a) I was pushing him too hard and making him do what I thought was a good amount of work, instead of what was a good amount of work for him. Now my goal is to get his "focused attention" on a given subject and to get his best work. I stop him after he produces a few perfect letter F's (for handwriting) or he masters his math concept for the day, instead of expecting a whole page of F's or two pages of math problems. It is better that he gives me his best work rather than get frustrated trying to produce a large quantity of work.
b) he needs to know what the flow of the day is. He constantly asked questions like "What's happening after this? and then after that? And when is such-and--such happening?", which took up a lot of our time and my patience.
c) he needs to have control over his own schedule. He had a hard time last year being told what to do all the time ("Okay, now it's time for math.... and now it's time for reading....") and not having any say over what came next.
To resolve both of these last issues for this year, I laminated our schedule posted it on the wall. He is able to choose the order in which he wants to do things. He gets a lot of satisfaction from checking off each subject as he completes it.
Our school room. Pretty much the same as last year, except that we added a piano and another bookcase to house our ever-increasing collection!
The books we are working on, in addition to the 3Rs. We are using the Charlotte Mason method which focuses a lot on learning through reading really good books.
First day special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. The boys received boxes full of new school supplies as their back-to-school gift.
I am optimistic about this school year! I just need to remember to focus on my relationship with my children, rather than making sure we check all the subjects off the schedule and all the days off the calendar. I need to remind myself that the reason they are being educated at home is so we can learn to love each other and live as a family, not just so they can just have a different teacher.
This article below is from a blog that I find very encouraging. The author's posts have helped me a lot lately, in letting go of a lot of my uptightness (is that even a word?). I especially love this post, on letting go of our schedule and just being with your child: