Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things I've Learned (or Relearned) in Our First Couple of Weeks of Homeschooling

In reflecting on our start to this year's homeschooling adventure, I've learned (or been reminded of) several important things.

1.  Life happens.  Be flexible.
     If the computer is acting up or you get an unexpected call from a relative who needs taste-testers for her snow cones, it's okay to change gears for a little while.  After all, learning about the role of preservatives in snow cone syrup is science, even if it isn't about ocean currents and tides.  Just try to get back on track as soon as is reasonable.

2.  My kids feel better when they know up front what they need to accomplish for the day.
     Knowing that after handwriting she'll be able to take a break before history and science (which finish up the day) helps Miss C. power through those handwriting exercises.  Miss J., my perfectionist, likes to know exactly where she is in her plan for the day.  Since Miss N. and Mr. B. are old enough to be given deadlines and plan for how to meet those deadlines on their own, we all feel better having a clear plan for everyone.

3.  It's okay to change plans if you see a problem with the plan or an unanticipated need. 
     I abandoned two different sets of plans for math because they required more practice than I considered appropriate for the attention span of my second grader.  I also jettisoned a couple of units that I considered redundant for my fifth grader.  I added an additional grammar resource for my ninth grader for review purposes.  All of those changes were made to address specific educational needs of my children.

4.  Have fun.
     How do I keep my children motivated if I don't appear to be enjoying the lessons?  Homeschooling is a joint discovery process, and my involvement and excitement about the journey are essential.

5.  Read to them.  Read things you loved as a child.  Share your love of books.
     I have been reading to my girls at bedtime for over a month now.  I found The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew on my Kindle, and I introduced to them the poor family who lived in the little brown house.  Now we're reading about a very bored and improper princess who takes matters into her own hands in Dealing with Dragons.  I love sharing these stories with my children and hearing them say, "Just one more chapter, please."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing (and Rewriting) Curriculum

One of the things I've learned during the past two weeks is that it's easy to overcommit.  After planning a scope and sequence for my daughter's high school English and history classes and making lesson plans for the first half of the semester, reality finally caught up with me.  I was trying to cover all of the things that had made us decide to homeschool these two subjects as well as most of the things she would have been covering if she had taken them at school.  After trying to cram just one more "classic" into her already full semester, I finally saw what I was doing.  What is the point of crafting a course for a single student if I'm not designing it to meet her specific needs?

It's a good thing I really like planning.  I have a feeling this won't be the only time I wind up redesigning a course at the last minute.