Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Flashback! Our first year of homeschooling

My first entry - Wed June 2, 2004
Well, the 2003-2004 school year comes to a close this week. All that is necessary next week is to pick up Fratello Maggiore's report card on Monday morning. He is not going back to school next year. There are a number of issues that brought me to this decision: bus behaviours, bias of government schools, the fact that I want my children to learn to their potential, etc.
It is an anxious time for me. Am I making the right decision? Will I be able to provide my children with what they need to reach their potentials? Will I go crazy with the kids around all the time and no time to myself unless I schedule it? Will Jeff TRULY support this decision, or is he just placating me? Will Mom throw a wrench in my plans by pushing her weight around on this issue? Will Fratello Maggiore and I be able to work together day in and day out? How will I juggle everything??
I have been researching this change like a madwoman for the past 6 weeks. I have been mulling it over for years. It is now time to jump in the deep end or walk away from the pool...

Fratello Maggiore's last day of public school/To the teaching store - June 3, 2004

Well, today is Fratello Maggiore's last day of school. As soon as he is on the bus, the rest of us will get ready and run some errands. One place I am determined to go is Holcomb's KnowPlace - the teacher store in our area. I want to browse the store with different eyes this time - eyes of a homeschooler. I gleaned a bunch of tips over the last few weeks and want to see how this store can help our little home school.
Oh, another thing - I think we need a name for our little school. "Country Lane", GC Country Creek...???
Fratello Maggiore's last day of school... I wonder how he is feeling today...

A busy summer - Friday, July 30, 2004
We have had such a busy summer with getting the "school mentality" out of the boys. We have been doing a lot of unscheduling and living in the moment since school was dismissed for the year.
I have been observing the children's natural sleep patterns. It seems that the boys like to get to sleep between 9-9:30 pm and wake up at 8:00 (Fratello Piccolo) and 9:00 (Fratello Maggiore). This will be useful in that I can start Fratello Piccolo before breakfast with something and can give Fratello Maggiore my full attention during Fratello Piccolo's free-play or other time after breakfast.
The last of the school supplies arrived today. Now school is ready to start on Monday, August 2. I am yet to feel "ready", but I suppose that would be a long wait, so we are just going to start...

The morning of day 1 - Monday, August 2, 2004
Well, the day has arrived!
I have done morning devotions while the children sleep.
I have already bookmarked the Reptile section of the Discovery Channel's Website for Fratello Maggiore's science lesson.
I am about to wake the boys up and get them dressed and ready for learning.
Please God, guide me in this eternally-important journey. Amen

First week of school is almost over - Thursday August 5, 2004
We are almost through with our first week of homeschooling. Things are going well. Only occasionally do I have to threaten Fratello Maggiore (i honestly feared he would act worse than he has) and that is with an assigned reading and/or some math. Fratello Piccolo has taken to this like a duck to water and keeps asking for MORE! We have already learned about komodo dragons, cobras, crocs and gators by learning about the reptile family this week in science. I have started us at 80% of the work and will up to 100% right after Labor Day. Our first field trip will be to the Renaissance Faire and we will start on Medieval/Renaissance studies on Monday. We get dressed, eat breakfast, room chores and brush teeth to start our school day at 9:00. We are completely FINISHED by noon! The kids have lunch and then the rest of the day to play or read or color.

Start of week 5 - Monday August 30, 2004
We just started week 5. I think it was three weeks ago, I read about the process of "notebooking" - learning your subject while filling a binder full of things that were learned each day/week. We started notebooks for language arts, science, and geography.
We have been studying castles and knights in preparation for our day at the Renaissance Faire in September.
In science we looked at reptiles, carnivores v herbivores v omnivores, and are starting on bones.
For Geography, we have been looking at North America - landmarks, regional geography, Saints, native animals, and the major countries' flags.
During the Olympics, we took a trip to a local Greek festival and looked up different flags during events and located some of those countries on the map.

End of week 5 Saturday September 4, 2004
Week 5 has gone well. I have done some adjusting for Fratello Maggiore. The Singapore math seems to be good enough, but he seems to balk at some of the more difficult concepts yet (adding three digit numbers)- so I am adding in days of practice worksheets of many simpler math problems. I realized that THOSE have to be stronger if he is going to do well in math. We will just take Singapore math at a slower pace and see how that works. He has assigned reading two days a week and the other days he can chose whatever he wants to read. Here's the rub - he has been chosing books all along and not reading them, so we tried a different approach this week. Nana brought home some Seymore Simon books on planes and cars (these are only about 30 pages long - pic to text ratio is high) and he HAS to read and finish them. It seems the second he got something from his Nana, he wanted to read it. Go figure. Fratello Piccolo begs for more and more to do. I have purchased three additional workbooks of math and pre-reading skills. After we do what is necessary for the day, I just hand him the workbooks and he works until he gets tired of them. I am also more casual with science and social studies now with Fratello Maggiore - we notebook these and I am going to let him get to it when he wants. I'll also see how that works... We took a trip to the local art museum on Wednesday. We looked at paintings and sculptures and made our own artwork in the kids' room. We also read three storybooks about art.

Our week 6 - Wednesday September 8, 2004
Well, this is week six and I have made this our "Recharging Week". This type of week will occur every 6 weeks or so. This week, we have no formal lessons, but I am writing down every thing they read or watch or do. Already we have been to the library twice and Fratello Maggiore has read two books. They have already watched some educational programs on tv, also. Since home education is a work in progress, it is nice to be able to back off or charge forward as the opportunities present themselves.

Letter to friends about my week - October 2004
My Week
Sunday - church, big family dinner, bike riding with the kids, clean-up and "school prep" Monday - wake, Magic School Bus on TLC, breakfast and dress, Magic School Bus again, official school time starts at 10:00 with language arts. Break for lunch, finish school time by 1:30. Dentist with both boys (good healthy teeth and mouths!). Home to eat dinner before Fratello Maggiore has CCD from 6:30-8. Home and bed prep for boys. I have clean-up and "school prep" for next day.
Tuesday - wake, Magic School Bus on TLC, breakfast and dress, Magic School Bus again, official school time starts at 10:00 with math. Break for lunch and finish school time by 2:00. Free play until dinner. Soccer practices from 5:30-7:00. Home and baths for kids. Boys in bed by 9. I have clean-up and school prep for next day.
Wednesday - wake, Magic School Bus on TLC, breakfast and dress, official school time starts at 9:30 with Geography. To library for 11:15 story time and more books. Lunch out and home to finish by 4 p.m. This was by far, our longest day of hsing so far. Although we were gone from the house from 11 - 2:30. Boys had free play and were in bed by 9. Clean-up and school prep for me.
Thursday - wake, Magic School Bus on TLC, breakfast and dress, Magic School Bus again, start school with math. School finished by 1:00 and free play until dinner. Soccer game after dinner. Home and baths for kids. Boys in bed by 9. I have clean-up and pack for next day's field trip. oh yeah - and laundry this morning
Friday - FREE TOUR OF PNC PARK - home of the Pittsburgh Pirates! Tour took 1 1/2 hrs. We saw the private clubs, the press box, the batting cages, and the dugout! Then we were off to Carnegie Science Center. Free admission and one picnic lunch later, we did hands-on science activities all afternoon and even watched a demonstration on electricity (both static and current). Nana was with us all day and we ended the afternoon with ice cream treats. The boys ate their weight in ice cream sundae, I think :-) We ended the day sitting around our patio fireplace!
Saturday - Two soccer games in the morning - Jeff goes to Boy Scout leader training - free play all afternoon - church in the evening... oh and all this with no sleep Wed, Thurs, and Fri nights - Half-Pint fiercely teething or something...

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