Friday, September 26, 2008

Tonight's teachable moment

Okay, it's Friday a.m. on the East Coast and we still don't know if the GOP candidate is going to show up for the presidential debates scheduled for this evening.

Sorry to infuse politics into homeschooling, but gee whiz, I'm mad as all get out about this. You see, my children and I had been looking forward to the debates and really getting to know the candidates better. Not only would this be a perfect homeschooling "moment", but one of these candidates is going to directly impact the future of these little people with whom I share so many important things.

As my children cannot yet vote, they depend on my husband and me to make the best informed decisions on their behalf. They are going to inherit this mess and the least I can do at this juncture is do my homework. That includes watching the presidential debates.

What does this teachable moment teach my children? That when things are looking challenging and the situation is getting complicated and frightening, it's okay to shirk your responsibilities and just not show up.

That's not okay. It's not the lesson I want my children learning today or any other day.

Leadership is about courage, wisdom, and fortitude. Sometimes, it's just about just showing up.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A little tongue in cheek

How I Homeschool

Homeschool Summer

What I Like About Homeschooling

I Will Survive

Patience my young Padawan

I think I may have survived my first week of homeschooling all three children, but I’m not quite sure yet. It’s all still a blur. I’ll really have to get back to you on that.

It didn’t help that we went to visit family out of state for over four weeks and didn’t return until days before we were to begin school. Thankfully, most every book, notebook, and pencil had already been purchased and was awaiting us all boxed up in a closet. The downside is that I hardly remembered what was in those boxes and had to scramble to get it all sorted out, reacquaint myself with the teacher’s manuals, and put together at least six weeks of study plans.

The funny thing is that as good as it feels to print up those handy six week planners I get from Donna Young, I always end up regretting working so far ahead. It never fails. I end up marking up the planners with all kinds of revisions within the very first days, only to go back multiple times during the six weeks and do it again and again.

The planner thing is absolute insanity this time around considering I now have three six week planners to coordinate. There are so many adjustments to make now that I know that my son needs MUCH more work, for example. He had finished a week’s worth of Singapore Math by Tuesday morning (we started school on Tuesday) including Test 1 in Saxon. It finally dawned on him that he didn't have to wait for anyone to be finished. This was a self-paced day in many regards, and he was off to the races indeed.

I'm having to reconsider his day to day schedule. I was only going to do the Story of the World for history with the two younger ones to streamline things a bit, but I realized this week that my son needs more stuff he do on his own than I had predicted. The best solution, I think, is to add History Odyssey to the mix. That way, we’ll still do Story of the World, but he’ll have more things that he can work on without my help. I've been very happy with the Level 2 material for my sixth grader, so I expect that the Level 1 study guide is what we're missing. I definitely don’t want to give him busy work just to fill the hours, but on the other hand, if he’s not focused on something constructive he’s a distraction to the other two, particularly his older sister. We just can’t have that. We just can’t.

I also came to the realization that my oldest daughter really needs to start doing more things on her own so that I have more time to work with the younger two. Since I do have a number of direct instruction type curricula in the mix for all three, I am facing a particularly interesting challenge when there is only one of me. Needless to say, the schedule needs some major tweaking. So, guess what I’ll be doing this very rainy weekend? Yep. Revising the six week planners, again.

We are also still recovering from a terrible case of jetlag. Not to make excuses, but that three hour time difference is a real bugger when waking up at 7 a.m. suddenly feels like 4 a.m. Ouch! Because I’m still figuring out this homeschooling multiples thing, I tried waking the kids up on a staggered schedule this week so that my sixth grader would have a jump start, followed by my third grader, with the first grader trailing right behind. I figured the differences in their workload justified trying it out.

I have to say it wasn’t as helpful as I’d hoped. We still ended up with some unfinished stuff to finish up over the weekend. Thanks to Hurricane Hanna, soccer is canceled so it will give my eldest something constructive to do. We have an art project we never got to, for one, which has turned out to be a mixed blessing considering we’ll be inside this weekend. I guess not getting through everything worked out for the best after all.

Much of the reason that we have uncompleted work is my own fault too. Not only did I over program by trying to cram five days of work into a shortened week (Labor Day holiday), but I definitely didn’t nail the daily schedule this first time around. I must improve the way I organize their day and remember to give myself a little down time too. I think I have some clear ideas about how to improve things, and I also know this is kind of like a new job for all of us. It’s just going to take some time to get into the flow of things.

Patience, my young Padawan. Patience.