Friday, August 10, 2012

Finding Our Groove

Well, this week has been an education for me as well as the boys. I am 80% pleased with the amount of school work we got done. This week and next week are review weeks in reading and math, so I'm not going to start worrying about progress until the third week.

We have been able to keep a mostly positive attitude about school. Builder Boy is happy to start, though sometimes we need to just stop and color. He doesn't like taking a do-nothing break, even if it's just 10 minutes. I've been slipping with the starting time. When we don't start at 9:30am stuff had to get pushed to after lunch, and I don't like that.

Here is what I've learned this week:

What's working:
  • Having a schedule and sticking to it-mostly. Builder Boy likes knowing that after the morning part of school he's going to go outside, then eat lunch, then get to play on the Wii, and then do science/history. I know structure can be good for kids, and I think it's comforting to Builder Boy. And having a fixed start time is a good way for me to stay on top of things and make sure the morning part of school gets done. But I also have to be flexible about how much we get done vs. what I'd scheduled (I'm getting good practice working on not stressing about expectations.) And sometimes the boys are playing so nicely that I push back our start time a bit.
  • Giving Builder Boy some control over what we do. I wrote on index cards "10 Minutes Handwriting," "Grammar Lesson," and "Reading Lesson" and I let him pick what order he wants to do them in. It doesn't seem to matter to him that he picks the same order every time. He likes being the one to decide, and I think it helps his attitude.
  • Limiting handwriting to 10 minutes and setting a timer. Handwriting can be a real struggle and frustration for both of us. Instead of setting goal of getting a certain amount of practice in I am setting a timer that Builder Boy can't see and we stop when the timer goes off. Or at least I try to get him to stop. He usually wants to finish whatever he's working on, so I am trying to give him things in small chunks so that finishing a chunk doesn't take much extra time.
  • Taking a break at 11:00 and having the boys play outside for an hour. It is HOT here in the summer time, and I don't like them to be in a lot of direct sunlight. Our small, walled back patio area is on the west side of the house which means in the morning time it is shady and cool enough that it's not miserable to be outside. Early Bird usually doesn't stay out the whole time, but Builder Boy does. It gives them a break before lunch, and while it means we're doing some school in the afternoon when they are more tired, I think it's worth it.

What's not working:
  • Having Early Bird tag along. I though he would be more interested in what I was doing with Builder Boy. And he sort of is, but not in a way that is productive. When I'm doing handwriting with Builder Boy, Early Bird wants me to write out words for him on his white board. When I'm doing grammar with Builder Boy, Early Bird wants to be the only one saying the poem and freaks out when Builder Boy or I try to say it. He does fine when we're doing reading, and I let him play on when I'm doing math with Builder Boy. But then he doesn't want to get off the computer to go outside. He really needs his own school, and I think doing Bird School, which he asks for, would help him a lot. I just can't figure out when to do it. At least with science and history he's (sometimes) participating and (maybe) learning something. 

Public school in my county started on Thursday. That made homeschooling more real in a way. We don't have to file the paperwork until September/October, so we're not officially truant, I think. I have to keep reminding myself that homeschooling is more efficient than public school, and that my 2.5 hours of school is enough for my 5 year old. Our schedule will change when BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) starts next month. But for now, this is working for us.

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