Monday, August 25, 2008

Watching the bus go by

So it's official. We're homeschoolers. As the school bus went by this morning for the first day of school, Stephen wasn't on it. On what should be his first day of kindergarten, I'm thinking we're going to go rent a movie, make some cookies, read a few books and just hang out. In fact, for the first few months of his kindergarten year, we're going to be doing a lot of "just hanging out". We're taking a trip the 3rd week in September and I don't want to start before then, so our target start date is Oct. 6. That's when things are going to have to start having a little more structure. We'll be starting Accountable Kids back up again, too (we quit because M-A kept tearing the cards down) and they won't be able to call the shots all day long on what they do.

But my heart is so happy that Stephen's not going to public school. All of his friends are in school now. He asked me a few days ago what kids do in "real school". I immediately told him that we can call it "public school" or "conventional school", but our home school will be "real school". We also talked about how when public school kids are learning about animals, they'll have to read about them in books....and when we learn about animals, we'll go to the zoo. And when they learn about stars, they'll read about them in books or do projects in their classrooms....we'll get a telescope and head out to our backyard. And when they learn about rocks, they'll see them in books...while we're at the museum or at a nature park to collect and compare rocks. He thought that was the neatest thing. I think he's getting really excited. (This post is not to diminish the choice of any parent that has sent their kids to conventional school. This is just our view and experience--I don't expect everyone else to feel the same way.)

I'm trying not to be too ambitious about our first year. Especially with Marc-Adam being in the phase he's in. He wants to be in the middle of everything, which has made it a little difficult lately when we've tried to do some book work. I have a lot of things lined up that I want to do, but I'm really trying not to set us up for failure. Some of what we're doing this year is what we started and didn't finish before or planned to do, but never got to last year. Some of it is different, though. Here's what I've got lined up--

For math, of course we're sticking with Math-U-See. We started, but didn't finish, the Primer some time last year, so we'll be finishing that up this year. My plan is to finish it up before we start up again in the spring (after our Christmas break), so we can start Alpha then. But it'll be okay if we only make it through Primer for kindergarten.

For reading/language arts we'll be kind of doing a mish-mash of sorts. I've gotten him two Explode the Code books to work out of. The plan is to work out of those and just read, read, read as many books as we can to really give him lots of practice and give him a good foundation before we start real language arts (grammar, spelling, etc) next year. We'll also be using KONOS, which has some language arts in it...I'm not sure yet if we'll use it for LA this year, though. And for his handwriting (which is partly why we're only focusing on reading this year instead of a total LA curriculum) we have Handwriting Without Tears. I really wanted A Reason for Handwriting, but it's more expensive and the store I was at when I had handwriting on the brain only had HWT (and on sale!). I like the way it teaches to write the letters, because it's exactly the way I was teaching it before we had a real curriculum for it. Stephen's handwriting is just really not good. I've been trying to work with him on it without stressing us both out, but that's a really fine line. I'm going to try not to push it too hard. But I can't tell if I'm teaching it wrong, he's just not ready or if he's just being lazy. If I'm teaching it wrong, or if he's just lazy, I can fix that. But if he's not ready, then I'll be doing more harm than good by forcing him and making us both cry.

And for everything else (science, history, bible, music, etc.) the thing I'm really excited about is KONOS. We'll be doing the Orderliness study first. I don't know how long it will take us, but if we finish before I consider our school year over, I'm not sure if I'll start another unit. They say that each unit takes 9-14 weeks, but that you can stretch it out. Since I plan on just covering the subjects on surface level and taking it slow, I might be able to stretch it out to cover most of our school year. Through the Orderliness unit, we'll be learning about days of the week, months of the year, seasons, planets, animals, trees, rocks and classifying those last three things. There's also a study of the book The Secret Garden, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to do that yet. And we'll be studying about the character trait of Orderliness through what the bible has to say about it. There are lots of really fun activities laid out for the whole unit. I'm really very excited about it.

So maybe I'm being too ambitious. But I'd rather set our goals high and have to adjust later than to set them low and not be prepared or not do as much as we could have.

Even though we're not starting quite yet, the fact that Stephen's not sitting in a classroom right now means we're homeschoolers!! I feel like I can finally say that for real now...every other time up to this point, it's just been "We're planning on homeschooling." I'm also getting more brave about telling people. For a long time, I didn't tell anyone unless they knew me and I knew them pretty well. But yesterday morning, as all the kids "upgraded" their Sunday school classes and everyone was getting ready for school and talking about it, I started telling more and more people. I'm proud of our decision now, instead of worried about what people will say or think. I'm feeling so many more emotions than I thought I would on this day. But I'm really feeling excited and FREE!


And for a small funny, there's this: A couple days ago, I was flipping through our Konos book to get reacquainted. I was looking at the part about memorizing the days of the week. I was pretty sure Stephen had the days of the week memorized. He always knows what day it is and if I say "the day after tomorrow", he immediately knows which day of the week I'm talking about. So I asked him if he could name all the days in order. He wanted to start with Monday, but I corrected him and said, "Start with Sunday." And he named them all, in this order: Sunday Saturday Friday Thursday Wednesday Tuesday Monday. LOL! So, just to see what he would do, I told him to start with Monday, and he got them all right (except he stumbled and almost switched Sunday and Saturday). That was just strange to me. I bet once he can see it visually on a calendar, it'll click and he won't get it backwards anymore.

Happy school year to everyone!! :)


kel said...

Isn't it wonderful?

We're almost finished with our school for the day. At 10:15. We've gotten so much done I'm amazed, and she doesn't have to sit in school for another 6 hours. :)

Kate said...

That sounds wonderful! I'm so happy for you.

Jana said...

I'm so glad (and jealous!) that homeschooling works for you guys. It's just not for us, but I really admire families that are successful homeschoolers. Plus, you don't have to worry about the school "kidnapping" your kid (you'll have to read my post today).