Reflections on our first week of the homeschooling journey.
In an effort to bring more focus and harmony to our home and lifestyle, we have decided to step into the full time homeschooling of our children. (At least for this year) This is my personal reflection as mom and facilitator on the first week.
So, our "First Day" of homeschool was marked off as Monday, August 13th, nearly a week ago. We got dressed, took photos, joined together in our school room, and marked the day off with a field trip with other homeschooling families from our local co-op group. It felt really good and was a perfect distraction for what the "other" back to school season looked like for us last year. We went to Tampa's "Waterworks" park near Armature Works and enjoyed an outdoor picnic, and splash pad fun! It was beautiful and perfectly crowded enough with a majority of families back to the "grind" of a Monday between school and work.
Dex is in his 1st grade year, and also his first year as a full time homeschooler. Last year he went to Kindergarten at a public charter school. While we were grateful for the amazing friends and teachers he had there, I had this inner call to just see what homeschooling could look like for us. In fact, we were planning on doing it for kindergarten, but then a waitlist spot opened at his school last year and I second guessed myself (on the night of my birthday no less WHILE in Disney), so off he went. He enjoyed it, made friends, had a wonderful teacher and met great people along the way. (I was the homeroom mom as well, so I was still there weekly to support him as needed, which I was SO thankful for). That being said, the days are long - nearly 8.5 hours when you include school, carline, getting ready, and coming home - in addition physical and occupational therapy every week. He was tired, his diet and foods became more quick, unhealthy, and on the go because life was chaotic. While he made amazing strides and advancements his last 2+ full time years in school, I am excited for him to see this side as well. We did give him FULL choice in what he chose to do this year, and will continue that trend in allowing the kids to be a part of the decision process.That being said, he generally strives with more structure than I do, so we are learning alot about eachother right now and meeting eachother halfway with things. (Did I mention I cannot even believe I have a 6.5 year old?!)
Ev is in her second year homeschooling with me and is in her "VPK" year. However, she is actually doing Kindergarten curriculum for the majority of things because she generally has an eagerness to learn. My baby is no longer as such and when I catch myself saying something like "I love you baby girl" or something I am corrected with "I am not a baby mom, I am a big girl". Our big goal this year for her is to learn how to read and continue to explore what she loves. She is very eager too for this goal! She is more of a free spirit like I, we don't always love schedules but always get things done as needed. She is an artistic and old soul for sure, but a funny girl with loads of personality and love to share. That being said, she also has a very stubborn and persistent side to her (which I secretly love!)
So, the first week...
How did it go?
What did we do?
Am I still excited like I was on day 1?
These are all questions I sit here asking myself because before I began, I feel like I read EVERY blog post from every homeschool mom out there.... Now, it's my turn.
How did it go?
General consensus, pretty darn good! I'm proud of the amount of "work" we got done and in addition, the life learning basics in which we discovered daily through our many adventures. There were moments I did "the thing" I said I wasn't going to do (ahem... compare this to a regular school), we worked through what the different expectations looked like and *might* look like now that we are in full time mode. I introduced a variety of subjects, plans, and schedule for the kids - but not everything. In addition to not wanting to overload myself, I didn't want to overload them by any means.
What did we do?
Oh Goodness, SO MANY THINGS! When you look at life as a whole, we are truly learning every moment of every day. Each time something happens, if we talk about and through it - there is a learning lesson in the making. If I was able to put our week into a quick snapshot, I would share that we had a back to school splash pad party, had our back to school dentist check up, and also enjoyed an afternoon at Shriner's where Evelyn and I focused on reading and Dexter had PT and OT. We also dug into an Ivy Kids subscription box on "The Snail and the Whale" and did a few activities while saving some for next week, read the entire chapter book of "Magic Treehouse; Dinosaurs before dark" and dug into some of our Time4Learning online curriculum. Technology and computers are a regular part of our household, and both Dexter and his Dad THRIVE in this area. We chose the Time4Learning curriculum for a guide and computer system, but are also using MobyMax since it is what Dexter used last year at the Charter school for testing. We did his assessment to gage which areas need more fine tuning (math in particular) and I will have Evelyn test this coming week.
We began some SERIOUS copy work and handwriting focusing for Dex and letter recognition and sound for Ev. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, so we are working at our pace. We are starting with Handwriting without tears for a workbook, in addition journaling and drawing about our days, field trips, memories, etc. This week we wrote a "summer story" talking about things we did this summer. We also journaled about our two volunteer days at Feeding Tampa Bay within the last two weeks. As for fun, well - that's always in the day alongside lots of hugs! One day when Daddy was at the office, we surprised him by cleaning his whole "home office" and made letters and drawings for him as a thank you for working so hard for our family. We then brought him out to dinner because it is always nice to help people feel good. (our lesson of the day). We had a library day and Dex decided that he no longer likes their computers (because they haven't updated their flash players since the upgrade) and they both used their first library cards to check out a few books! I picked up all the books on my list for the month of October (except the ones still coming in) for our character trait focus. This month, we are focusing on "Responsibility" and I have made each months' focus and book list for the remaining of the year (through May) which felt REALLY good to get all that accomplished! Otherwise, we had ups and downs much like any family and school AND we made our 100 day "paper chain" so we can have a celebration when we reach our 100! There were some things that the kids didn't want to do because it challenged them, I had to push through in moments that challenged me (like them challenging me lol) and we all ended up happy and excited this morning (and each kiddo even did an hour of their school work this AM too!) for a "free day".
So am I still excited as I was day 1?
Yes! In fact, maybe even MORE excited because while there were definitely moments of doubt, they weren't nearly as often as the moments of doubt I had with potentially going back into the charter school for the year. I know that the individualized education for my children with us and the other teachers they will experience this year through our home school co-op classes is going to be perfect. In September we are starting fresh all over again with 12 week classes every Monday with our other home school family friends! Ev is taking a focus in Art, Yoga, Science, and Intro to Spanish through Music while Dex is focusing in Lego builds, Chess, Science, and Interesting Creatures! We have a variety of service days of volunteering in the works, monthly home school classes at the Florida Aquarium, and a few zoo trips scheduled in. Plus, we still have our summer bowling passes so we will be playing PLENTY of bowling through the Fall! I am SUPER excited and we are just getting started.
So as for curriculum, I guess I will do a big ole' post on what we have looked at, are looking at, and are working towards - but for now, we are just taking life one day at a time. Thanks for reading, your support and encouragement, and your part in our journey into the "Happy Home-school". (What we have named our home school for the year)
So, happy back to cchool season for ALL the teachers, students, and schools whether in your living room, from an RV, private school, public school, or any variety in between. The education of our future generations is vital and I firmly believe we are raising the generation of change-makers. We will start (and have been) the shift for them, but they will be a part of THE shift. We may see it, our generation of parents, as long as we focus on creating better health and wellness for ourselves to stick around long enough. I intend to be around as long as possible.
Enjoy your days,