I spent months researching, scouring blogs, seeking out any wisdom I could glean to help me wrap my head around what it is we will be doing when we homeschool. I've researched philosophies behind homeschooling, visited homeschooling families, subscribed to the local homeschooling Google group, determined organizational plans, and researched the many curriculum choices. In addition to the research, I laminated, labeled, reorganized closets, moved the scrapping stuff (is this what happens?), printed out reading lists, and borrowed 4-5 Sonlight curriculum to try out for the summer (Thanks Leah). I've modified the Instructor Guides that come with the curriculum, not because I'm a control freak (although I am) but because we are not doing the curriculum straight through, but only as a way to see if this system and materials are a good fit for our family. Here is a look at our first week's plans. The original organizational method I wrote about in my first post on planning, didn't work, once I had decided to give Sonlight a solid try.
You may be happy to know we are officially into week 3 of school. And if it weren't for the workboxes I use to organize it all, my son Caleb might not even know we have started school. We are doing much of the same things we've always done, only I'm pre-planning what we do, and coordinating so we get a wide variety of subjects each week. Below is week 3's lesson.
You'll notice that I've stopped being so particular with what stories are read. Logistically its just easier for us to know that we need to read 2 out of this one, 3 out of this one, etc. Then I just keep a piece of card stock as a bookmark, that the adult reading the story records the date and what has been read. That seems to be working much better. I love the anthology books with the classics in them. These are book I remember reading as a kid, but wouldn't have necessarily searched them out in a library. This is exactly what I needed. I've discussed my lack of confidence in picking out quality books, as I talked about in my post, Chosing and Reading Children's Books. Sonlight curriculum helps me with this. (We still check out 10 library books every 2 weeks!)
I'm not a full-time stay-at-home mom, as I work two days a week at the local university and also volunteer two mornings a week as a science lab teacher. So the homeschooling responsibilities are not solely on my shoulders. I make the schedule for the week, and whoever is home with the kids can follow the lesson plans, be it me, my husband, or our college-student baby sitter, who also happens to be an elementary education major!
I'm a sucker for having things in containers (I had a severe addiction to Longaburger baskets in the 90's) so its no surprise that I liked the idea of workboxes. I found some great resources like Sue Patrick's Workbox System, 1+1=1, Just Laine (just found Laine....love, love, love her site) and No Reimer Reason. And finally decided to do it.
Here is a collage of our workbox drawers here in the early stages in our homeschooling "career."
I'd love to sit here and tell you that everything is going as planned, but I feel you'd all see right through that, right? We'll always hit bumps in the road. So my first surprise was my son's lack of enthusiasm for anything I would title "school." While I never intended for his homeschooling experience to "look" like school, I was surprised to discover using the word affected him. He did attend preschool for several mornings a week for the past two years. My husband and I had occasionally mentioned that Mom and Dad would be his teacher for kindergarten, and that seemed ok to him when it was just words. But there have been days in the past 3 weeks when Caleb just will refuse to do something.
It was my husband who had the first successful school experience. And you know how he did it? He didn't call it school! He just offered to read Caleb some stories, and it worked. For our "Stories from Africa" reading, I had scanned the graphics within the stories for him to color while he listened, and since we've done that quite a bit already, Caleb decided that wasn't school, so he'd participate in that as well. I'm learning to allow Caleb to make decisions on what he's like to do next, or just use the power of suggestion by setting the next workbox drawer out, and see if he comes up with the idea sometime throughout the day to engage with it! Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
With the frustrations there's also been some wonderful moments. My favorite this week was when Corban went down for his nap, Caleb just looked at me and said, "What letters are we working on today, Mom?" Handwriting has been his least favorite, so him bringing it up (without it even being set out on the table) for me was a huge step in the right direction.
Overall, I'm excited to have started, and am enjoying the ride, knowing its only the beginning of a wonderfull journey!