Friday, October 14, 2016

From the archives: Drawing the wind (a pep talk on homeschooling)

First posted October 2009. Ponytails had just turned twelve and was in Grade Seven. Crayons (Lydia) was eight and in Grade Three. (Edited slightly)

It's now October. Do you know where your homeschooling plans are?

Did you lay them so thick that you can't stuff anything else in?

Are you wondering why you're only up to what you planned for Week Three and now it's Week Five or Six? Why you've skipped the last few days of French lessons? ("It's okay, kids, we'll make it up later.") Why the composer-study schedule has gotten buried under math and history?

Maybe it hasn't and everything is going along swimmingly. Everybody's still getting up early, the school room or wherever you work looks pretty good, your schooltime snacks are still nutritious, you remembered to change the calendar to October even if your "decor" is still Welcome Back To School, and nobody's begging for extra computer game time.

Maybe it's not going quite so well. You've all had nasty colds and the DVDs took over temporarily. The exercise plans lasted through the nice weather, but it's too cold out there now. All the new hymns are sounding strangely alike. The kids memorized their first poem happily, but now want to know why they have to learn another one. The one making the lapbook has only two mini-books glued in and says she doesn't want to do any more reptiles now, thank you.

And oops--you really were going to do more poetry with them this year, weren't you?

OK. This is your pep talk. You laid down all these plans, and now it's up to you to be persistent, with both yourself and the kids.

You bought that art curriculum, so make time for them to use it at least once a week.

You set them up with the history-journalling project, so encourage them to keep at it (it's going to look amazing when it's done).

You know which readaloud books you want to get through this year, so don't let them cajole you into reading only Book A when you had planned to alternate it with Books B and C. We really like this fall's Book A, and it's easier reading than Book B, but B has its own rewards.

The vocabulary chart you started is looking a bit lonely up there on the wall with only three roots filled in, so decide that tomorrow you all are going to add three more AND you're going to play one of the games from the program.

And it's NOT too cold to get out there and do some backyard nature study. The trees this morning looked like someone was blowing them with a hair dryer, but Ponytails went out and found a ladybug to draw in her nature journal. Crayons just wanted to draw the wind.

If you need to add a little pep to the same-through-the-year lessons, do it. We alternate Bible stories with Mr. Pipes, but even so the cycle of just reading, narrating can get a bit routine. Occasionally add little things in to keep the lessons interesting. This week I photocopied a kings-and-prophets timeline strip from What The Bible Is All About For Young Explorers and printed copies out on coloured cardstock; then during one of our lessons the girls cut them out, taped the two parts of them together, and made Old Testament bookmarks for their Bibles. It wasn't a major project, but it kept hands busy while we read about Elijah. Another day I gave them a colouring page about the story we were reading. We don't do that often--even colouring can get monotonous--but once in awhile it's nice to have a little extra.

Before the school year started, I put all my third-grade math ideas into a file box, and while we haven't stuck exactly to the cards as written, I'm still trying to get as much crossed off as I can before we go on to new things. This week I had noted "practice math vocabulary" (something I'd noticed on a worksheet). All I meant by that was knowing the words sum, product, and difference; not a big thing, but it's easy to overlook teaching them. I wrote each word a couple of times on slips of paper, and had Crayons pull pairs of numerals out of a bag. (We used rubber tiles from a math game, but you could use any cards.) I had her choose a slip at random, or I chose one for her. "Find the sum of your two numbers." "Find the difference between them." "Find the product." Sometimes I had her pull three numbers instead.

It's October. Switch around a little. Ponytails has been using math software during her computer time, and Crayons has been using a science CD-Rom; but it's time for a change, so now Ponytails will be using the CD-Rom and Crayons will be doing online math games. (She's also asked me if we can start using Calculadder sheets again.)

Play with time. We are doing a combination of workboxes and group activities, and sometimes the group things get dropped if the workboxes are going slow. So some days I fill only a few workboxes, and catch up on the French and nature and singing and anything else that we might get into a bad habit of missing.

And one other thing--now that everybody's back to school, are your kids getting to see their homeschooled (and other) friends? We've been slightly sidetracked on this due to colds and such that we didn't want to pass around; but I think everyone's healthy enough now that we really need to work on some of that Socialization. (Mom needs to see friends too!)

Trust in what you have laid out. Don't worry about what you think you have left out for this year--just keep on with what's already on the table. Learn new things a little at a time. Enjoy small things. Have a
wonderful fall.


Silvia said...

Wonderful! I needed this post today. I gave you a shout out at my blog,

Thanks, Anne, for being the homeschool mom's advocate and companion.

Mama Squirrel said...

Funny thing--I mentioned to Lydia yesterday that I had posted about the windy day that they went out to do nature drawing, and she said that she remembers doing and saying that, seven years later. Sometimes we think our kids will forget a lot of what we do during school, and they might, but they'll remember the moments that mattered.