Sunday, August 11, 2013

Starting to Homeschool {For Real}

Starting to homeschool {for real} is both unnerving and completely natural at the same time.  I mean, as the parent you've been your child's teacher since birth.  You helped them babble sounds, roll a ball back and forth, walk.  Talk about big milestones!  You've taught them to talk, jump off stumps, and most likely to recognize colors and their ABC's.  You can do this!  The unnerving part comes when you recognize the outside pressure to homeschool well, to fit a mold or follow someone elses timeline.  Eventually (each state is different) you'll have to turn in records of attendance and evidence of learning.  Oiy!

It comes down to recognizing that every child is different.  There are different strengths and weaknesses, there is no standard box that every child fits into.  They may be doing math at a first grade level and still learning their ABC's.  The joy is that as the parent, you know your child and can learn with them.   You will read, and then read some more about the various curriculum programs that are available.  You'll find that some fit you and your child and others don't.  First ponder on your goals for yourself and your child.  Get down to the nitty-gritty.  Is there a schedule or time-limit you'd like to enforce (for your sanity or your child's)?  What subjects are of interest?  What subjects are required regardless of interest?

Here's what I've discovered for myself homeschooling kindergarten with my oldest.  We started with a schedule in August.  It would take us less than an hour to accomplish goals I had set.  I had determined that our schedule would be as follows:
It was fairly simple and led to different activities each day.  This worked for me, and it worked for CJ.  This schedule may look nothing like what you would do.  Simply write down your priorities and hop to it!  You've guided them through such large milestones already, you can do this!

Our schedule hung true until about Thanksgiving.  Then we sort of fell off the bandwagon.  No problem, we'll pick ourselves up, reevaluate and start again.  In January we implemented a new schedule.  We had finished some key curriculum goals and were ready for something new. Our new schedule looked like this:
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Scriptures
    • Prayer
    • Scripture Story or Lesson - mark words in personal set of scriptures
    • Article of Faith (memory verse)
  • Math
    • Khan Academy - addition and subtraction review
    • Math Booklets - Moffatt Girls
    • Time?
    • Money?
    • Measurement?
  • Reading
  • Handwriting
    • 1 page per day in workbook
  • Geography
    • 1 page per day in workbook
  • Music 
    • Piano Lessons Weekly
    • Daily Practice - 10 minutes
    • Starting Recorder in February
  • Extras
    • Review Packets from Moffatt Girls
I do believe I was too ambitious in January.  We haven't successfully completed our list of activities more than 3 times a week.  Sometimes we were lucky to do it once. Maybe that's because I used a variety of different programs and my teaching background to set curriculum.  I didn't purchase a day by day planned out set that tells you what to say.  You may want to do that if that type of program appeals to you.

I also discovered a great set of report cards that line up with Common Core.  I'm not a fan of Common Core.  Not at all.  However, knowing that this list covers many of the skills we'll be using, I went ahead and downloaded it to determine if I was missing any large chunks of skills that I had simply overlooked. 

Knowing that there were activities I wanted my boys to participate in outside of our home I also looked into the rec center offerings for my city.  I determined that we'd do swimming, drama and gymnastics.  Other classes may also be considered throughout the years. 

There is so much to think about and decide, but you could spend your whole life researching instead of living if you don't limit yourself.  For Kindergarten, just determine a few key factors that are important to you and go from there.  Remember, as the parent you were their first and are their most important teacher.  You can do this!

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