Monday, August 4, 2014
Back To Homeschool Tips
This morning, one of my kids needed some time to cool off, so I sat down and did some flash cards with them. (The unspoken message there being, "I'll help you regulate yourself if you need it, but next time, you might want to try a little harder on your own.") The flash cards were a spur of the moment inspiration, but it reminded me to think about what we already have.
It doesn't have to be a clipboard-in-hand, official inventory, but it's a good idea to go through your shelves and refresh your memory about what's there. Sometimes I discover that what was a flop with one child, several years ago, will be just perfect with another child now.
I've had years where we start off learning not only Math, English, Social Studies, Science, and Spelling, but also Bible, Latin, Botany, Art, etc etc etc. There's nothing wrong with any of the extra subjects, of course, but if I bite off more than I can chew, I end up cranky, and feeling like a failure when we're barely squeaking by in the basics by the end of the year.
If you want to take on something extra, give yourself permission to go slowly through the material, taking as long as you need to finish it. If a "semester" course takes a year for your 10 year old to get through, I can assure you that they'll have a much better grasp of the subject than if you try to plow through it for a month and then give up and quit. (The exception to this is high school, where rules are a bit stricter.)
Don't Force It
Conversely from the above point, if a program or a subject is just not working for a specific child or for you or your family, it's okay to quit or change. You don't have to do Latin. You do have to do math, but you don't have to use the program everybody hates any more. Try something else and see if a fresh approach makes a difference. I discovered last year that Eli prefers to do his math on the computer, and Jack prefers a book. It's all good.
It's not just Girl Scouts that need this handy motto, it's moms, too, and homeschool moms in particular. Now is the time to firm up curriculum plans and place those orders! (No one likes to start school without a crucial piece of curriculum.) Hopefully, you took advantage of the sales in July to restock any school supplies you were running low on. Get out that fresh new planner (or make your own) and figure out the first couple of weeks worth of lessons. You can tweak things later as you go, but having the beginning planned will help you have an answer when one of your students wants to know what they're supposed to be doing next.
Be intentional about outside committments
In the early years of my children's schooling, I tended to pendulum between signing them up for Art! Soccer! Cooking! Spanish! Playgroup! Swimming! Choir! and whatever else I could manage; and getting overwhelmed and being a hermit. It's important to find balance. The key is spending some time thinking/praying/discussing with your spouse.
Something that I realized recently is that I really want Hannah in AWANA this year. We used to do AWANA when the big kids were little, but have taken the last several years off. However, when it occurred to me that 1) she's in public school, and 2) the church we've been visiting doesn't have a children's program, I strongly felt that AWANA would fill a need for us. It's important to our family that the kids learn Bible stories and Christian values from a young age. She's the only one of the kids that doesn't have that coming from school or church.
Extracurricular activities can be a positive supplement to your homeschool, or they can be a millstone around your neck, so choose carefully.
Make It Special
We don't have a whole lot of First Day traditions, but I do like to record the kids' height and weight and hand print most years. Some First Days we've gone out for donuts after dropping the school kids off. Some First Days we've had special new supplies. Last year, I got Brianna, Eli, and Jack personalized pencils and gave them to the kids on the first day of school. This year, my boys will be getting new homeschool t-shirts and different special pencils on the first day. It doesn't have to be a huge Pinterest inspired project to make the first day say, "We're going to have a great year together! I'm so glad I get to be your teacher."
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