Here it is, nearing the end of July and I’m gearing up to start another school year. Sure, we only did preschool last year, but I treated it as if I were “really” doing school. Which, in a sense, I was. Even this year, I don’t have a teacher coming over to check up on me or anything as Hannah isn’t old enough to “officially” start school, but I know she’s ready. So we’re doing Kindergarten anyway. Then next year we’ll sign her up as a first-grader. Caleb is starting preschool this year.
Our first day of school is August 2nd. We do school 4 days a week with the last day being a catch-up and book day. We have a week off every month and the months of December and April we’re doing mini-topics and breaking away from the norm by having a lot lighter schedules those months. We should be done with Preschool the end of May and Kindergarten the middle to the end of June. Then we’ll have July off as our summer vacation and start it over again. The weeks we have off every month are designed both to be a break and a catch-up week, if we need it.
I’ve learned some things while homeschooling preschool with Hannah.
#1: School at home doesn’t have to look like school at a public school. This for me was the hardest hurdle to get over. We don’t need to work on Math for an hour, if they get it, just move on. While we do have a table that Hannah does work at, we also do a lot of school on the couch.
#2: Sometimes you need to teach something several ways before they get it. This was another hard one for me. I would get frustrated because Hannah wasn’t getting what I was teaching. I wanted her to be able to read, right now, even if she was only 3.
#3: Have a support group. What I mean by that is, have a couple of people you can go to to vent when you’re frustrated. Someone to bounce ideas off of or someone to suggest something in a way that you didn’t think of. Tim is the main member of my support group. His style of teaching is so different than mine and he suggests things that sometimes I knew but needed reminded. “Hannah IS only 3, ya know, most kids her age CAN’T read yet.” He’s my level head.
#4: Figure out a time to do school that works best for you and stick to it as best you can. You don’t have to start school at 8am and go until 3pm, like a public school. I have found that our best time is in the morning. So, we do school right after breakfast. On a good day we have time to do chores and go outside before lunch and then rest time. However, morning is also the best time to get everything done, so sometimes it doesn’t work so well. Because we do school 4 days a week with the last one being a catch-up day, I have the chance to also use that one day for appointments and such. I try to grocery shop on Saturdays (partially to catch the Farmer’s Market in the morning). I’ve even heard of people starting their school day at 3p.
#5: Homeschooling is a commitment and should be treated as such, but it’s also flexible. It’s way too easy some days to give in to the temptation to not do school, for the 2nd or 3rd day in a row. That being said, one of the nice things about homeschooling is it’s flexibility. Too nice a day to stay inside? Go for a nature walk or a zoo or a Pioneer Village… You can turn just about anything into a learning experience. Just make sure you aren’t doing more field trips than actual school.
#6: My attitude affects my child’s ability to learn. I found this to be true with Hannah when I changed my attitude and stopped expecting too much out of her. Suddenly, she learned the things I had been frustrated about and more. It was then that I realized school had started to be fun again.
My goals this year are:
*to catch anything that Hannah might have missed, since we’re repeating what we did last year (I used the Kindergarten curriculum last year as preschool).
*Let Hannah go as far as she can handle with Math (a subject she loves).
*Teach Caleb colors, shapes and numbers.
*Try to keep the atmosphere one of fun, most of the time.
*Try to have some deadlines on when to finish work. (This is something, I’ve been told that people from homeschool backgrounds generally struggle with. In the real world, you don’t have all day to finish something.)
So, we’ll see how everything goes. Another thing I’ve learned is that sometimes, it looks great on paper or in thought, but is hard to do in practice.
May God bless your socks off!