September 1, 2010

Counting Down

Hello, Homeschoolers!!

I'm getting pretty excited for next Tuesday when we officially start our school year. Some of you sent me good ideas for how to make the first day special and I'm using them! On Monday I'll give my kids all their school clothes to look through and ooh and aah over. I love watching them decide what to wear for the first day. My son always lays his clothes out on the floor in a person shape--including shoes. Very cute.

Tuesday morning we'll go through our new routine for the first time. It might be rocky but I've promised myself I will be CHEERFUL no matter what--the entire first day. So we'll take baths and tidy rooms and get dressed (and take time out for first day of school pictures) and have a fancy breakfast.

Then we'll have devotional. We're studying the New Testament this year and focusing our discussions on the life of Christ and how we can be like him. Our devotionals are short--we read out of the illustrated New Testament, read an article in the Friend, sing a song, and say a prayer. It isn't lengthy but it sets the right tone for the day and reminds me of one of the many, many reasons that I'm doing this. It also gives me an opportunity to bear testimony Mon-Fri to my children. President Eyring said that the best way to improve our teaching is to stop saying things as quasi-statements and instead declare them with firmness and bear testimony more often. That's my goal for devotional--to bear testimony of at least one thing we talk about.

After devotional is music time. I am so excited for music time this year--or first few months of the year. I found a folk song guitar book on amazon that I'll be purchasing for my hubby for Christmas. In anticipation of Christmas morning when he pulls out his guitar to try out some songs, and my children flock to him as though the guitar has a gravitational pull that exceeds the earth's, I'm teaching my children songs that are in the book. That way, hubby will start playing and my children can start singing. Picture it. Magic. We're learning Erie Canal and Scarborough Fair and The Cat Came Back, among others. I also threw in Mama Mia and Waving Flag--just for fun. Music time is always a highlight of our day. We sing, we learn choreography, we dance, we play instruments. Then we sing at rest homes once we've learned all the music. My children love it. So do I.

After music we'll have a group activity that will be easy for the two youngest to join in. We're starting this year with dental health. I can't wait to make teeth out of clay and label teeth parts and practice correct brushing. Trust me--we need this unit.

I have a five year old boy--that means I work in lots and lots of breaks into our schedule. Music time is very active, the morning activity is hands-on, and before lunch we have "PE." That usually involves the children racing from one fire hydrant to the other, doing sit-ups, push-ups, "jumping jacks" (are my children just really uncoordinated or are jumping jacks really hard for kids???), and stretching. I love watching a three year old stretch. Hilarious.

After lunch is quiet time for Emeline, nap time for Eli, and work with Mom time for the older two. Cowen does have a short quiet time at first (this really helps him refocus later--have any of you found that with your youngsters?) while I read my scriptures and Miriam reads to herself. This accomplishes two things: 1) I read my scriptures; and 2) Miriam sees me reading my scriptures. After that, Miriam reads out loud to me for 15 minutes. She loves this snuggle time with me and it is probably the most valuable thing I do with her all day.

I'm starting something new this year that I am very excited about. After Miriam reads to me, we're going to have baptism prep. A short, 10-15 minutes, reading and talking about baptism. What it is, what it means, what she should expect. I have a baptism book that someone gave to me when I got baptized that I am going to use for a conversation starter. We'll read a few pages and then talk about it. If anyone has other good baptism resources, please--shout them out!

Cowen won't be neglected, especially now that he's officially a kindergartner. We'll be spending our 15 minute one-on-one time going over letters and sounding things out. He likes to do that with me, but 15 minutes is a pretty generous estimate. He usually lasts five minutes before he's "done" with reading. That's okay. We'll just take it one minute at a time with him.

When both children have had their one-on-one time, we'll combine again for the last hour of school. I've thought and thought and thought about the math/language art issues I had last year and decided the fault lay mostly in me. I'm a teacher--by trade and by choice. I can make most subjects interesting if I choose. Last year, I didn't choose to make math interesting. I didn't do fun lesson plans. We just worked out of a book. This year I am taking myself to task and restructuring math and LA. First, I'm going to trade weeks as trying to do too much makes me stressed out and hurried. The important things--music, family bonding, hands-on activities, devotional--all take place in the morning, so anything that gets done in the afternoon is bonus. (Remember, I don't think kids need to go to school at all until they are 8--I'm not what anyone would consider an academics nazi).

So, the first week is LA. I have a few materials that I love like Sequential Spelling and Imagine It! reading comprehension tests and Language Lessons for the Very Young. I'm going to use those resources but also keep firmly in mind that I am a teacher. I will introduce new concepts in accessible and fun ways. That's my job. The second week will be math, and same goes. I have more resources to draw from this year, but I'll remember that my own creative brain is the most important of those resources.

Friday mornings are nature day because no one in their right mind stays inside every day in Utah in the fall. It is really the best time of year anywhere, but especially here after the dreadful summer heat. I already have a list of places we're visiting.

And that is it. My grand plan in a nutshell. Probably more info than you wanted, but it felt good to write it. To know all my summer musings and prayer have solidified into a plan of action. Now I just need to finish putting everything into page protectors (the best way to reuse materials) and finish a few other details and we are ready to go.

I hope everyone else is also excited for the new year, or that the new year got off to a great start if you've already started! Good luck to us--and that means you!

1 comment:

  1. I love reading this post! It sounds like your devotional time is going to be wonderful. AND I really need to come to your house for the clay teeth and proper brushing... actually my son does. The one we spent over $2000 on for his braces. I hope you'll post pictures.