Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surprises...

Life is full of surprises. Just when you think you have your plans, something changes! I often think of the verse from Proverbs that says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." That's why I am so thankful to have a loving heavenly Father that charts my course! (even if I think it is ME who is making the plans!)
One big surprise to me has been the discovery of how much I enjoy homeschooling my children. I know this has to be God working in my life. When I first considered the prospect of homeschooling several years ago, I knew it was something I should want to do, but I just wasn't sure I wanted to. Now, a few years later, I can honestly say that I look forward to those steps into my basement to start our homeschooling day each morning. Some days are not even close to fun. Some days feel incredibly unproductive. Some days are uneventful and routine. But, through it all, I feel like I am enjoying the process, and I know my children are learning and growing. I love my children, so it makes sense to me that I would love to spend time with them watching them learn and teaching them the things I want them to learn.
Other surprises to me have been the way Isaac's first grade year has morphed into something that works for us. For example:
(1) I don't use lesson plans anymore. I pretty much know what I want to accomplish in a day and in a week.
(2) I have stopped using workboxes for now, although I would like to get back to them sometime soon. We have spent lots of time on Isaac's core subjects, and I know by the time those subjects are done, his attention span has dwindled. In the future, I may use workboxes for afternoon work.
(3) I am spending more and more time in the mornings working with Graham. He has really come a long ways in the past few weeks and wakes up each morning and begs me to "do school" with him. Today he said, "Mom, you are the mom AND the teacher!" Yup! He gets it!
I have decided (I think) NOT to continue taking Graham to preschool next year. He has been more and more excited to work with me, has dreaded going to preschool every day, and we could use the extra money. Although I have loved having a mini-Graham vacation every Tuesday and Thursday, it just isn't worth it to me at this point to continue.
(4) we scrapped the four day school week almost right away last fall. I found I was getting more and more behind, and had more pressure to have school on the remaining four days (even if we were sick or had an appointment or something). Five days works just fine for us!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Progress

We are mid-way through Isaac's first grade year, and Graham's 3 year old preschool year! I have lots of things planned for the rest of the year, and I am trying to avoid the mid-year blahs by re-vamping some things and getting re-organized. I took some time this week to re-organize my homeschooling closet. I took out anything related to scrapbooking and am using the whole thing for homeschooling activities. I needed to make it so everything was easily accesible for me. I have found that is the key for me. Not to sound lazy here, but if it is not easy or accessible, I have found I don't bother to do it. My life is busy enough the way it is, I need to SIMPLIFY everything I do.

Graham used his do-a-dot set that I got him for Christmas for the first time today. He loved it! It is such a good activity for fine-motor skills and color identification. It was also good for Graham to use self control as he colored. He likes to just scribble when using markers or crayons. With the do-a-dot printables I found online, he had to identify which color to use first and fill in the correct circles.

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Isaac is improving in his reading, although sometimes it is hard to see the overall progress. I know he is reading longer books, reading brand new material much better, sounding words out on his own and identifying long and short vowels better. I have realized how complex the English language really is. There are really no "absolute" rules with English. I wish I could tell him that EVERY word that has two vowels is ALWAYS long, but that is not true. There are exceptions to everything.
We plan to continue are current curriculum for reading, phonics, spelling and math. I plan on trying to find something new for handwriting, possibly, "Handwriting without tears," but we will see. I also would like to find a better daily devotional to use with Isaac.
Next week we will be starting a LEGO lapbook, this should be really fun for both of us.
Other unit studies we plan to do are: space, pirates, pioneers (may concentrate on Lewis and Clark and follow with a field trip to Bismarck) and Butterflies (in the spring we will do another painted-lady butterfly cocoon study). I would also like to do another spring trip to the farm during calving season, but I don't know if we will do a lapbook/unit study for that yet or not.
I plan to try to make Graham's preschool time more structured and to do a better job of keeping him busy without television!