Saturday, August 9, 2008

Our First Week of School

I'm happy to report that our first week of homeschool was a success. The kids are still saying things like "School! Yay!" and "Is it school time yet?" and "Can we please do some more school?" I know this probably won't last much longer, but I'm happy that it at least endured for this long.

Monday was Math Day. I'm using the Miquon math books. They come with a manipulative set called "Cuisenaire rods" which Fish absolutely loves to play with. The first part of the book is on counting, which is mostly review for Bean, but they bring out some concepts that I hadn't thought to teach them-- like on one worksheet we were making tally marks and they had never done that before. We ended with some dot-to-dot pictures which are always popular with my boys.

Tuesday is our Geography day and our focus this month is the Great Plains (I figured we'd better start with where we live and branch out from there.) We talked about the geographic features and the plant and animal life of the plains and basically set the stage for future activities. We also talked about the concept of setting goals and set our goals for the school year. Fish's goal is to shoot a bow and arrow like Robin Hood, but hey, it's a start.

Wednesday is music, so we did piano lessons.

Thursday is reading. I bought a Memory game at Walmart where the tiles are 50 early-reader sight words. Playing all of them at once turned out to be way too hard. It actually kept their attention pretty well because they love to play memory and we had fun making up sentences with our words but at the end of the hour we'd only gotten about 8 matches. At that point it was time to get ready to go to the library so we turned all the cards over and matched them face-up. When I use this set again I will only use part of it at a time.

At the library we got a whole bunch of books about the Prairie-- mostly picture books about pioneers and covered wagons (such as Eve Bunting's Dandelions) but I also went to the non-fiction section and checked out several simple fact books about our state. We're also reading aloud Sarah, Plain and Tall and I have the audio CDs of Little House on the Prairie on order from

Friday is our hands-on day, where we do a craft or a science project or some other kind of activity. I've been thinking about the Waldorf school that we wanted to send Bean to in Oregon-- one of the things that really impressed me about their curriculum was that they teach all the first graders to knit. They all sit around in the afternoons and knit while the teacher reads to them. Their school has great success with kids who struggle in a traditional school setting with attention or sitting still or whatever. Since Bean falls into that category, I could see the value for him in doing these kind of repetitive handicrafts and so I plan to incorporate as many of these into our curriculum as possible. I started out by buying a small loom set with colored nylon loops (JoAnn fabric, 3 bucks with my 40% of coupon). It was a huge hit.

I did finger knitting with Fish while Bean worked on the loom.

I thought Fish would be too young to handle the loom but he got ahold of it yesterday afternoon and did a great job making his own weaving.

Which brings me to the final thing I wanted on the record about this week: although we only spent one hour in structured school each day, the kids spent many other hours throughout each day continuing to work on the things we'd been doing or doing other education-related activities. I felt really good about that.

It was a busy week for me, but I never felt too stressed-out or overwhelmed, at least not any more than I usually do when we're not doing school. So I think that my plan to make school manageable for all of us is working. I'm looking forward to next week.

I plan to record in my blog every week what we did and how things went so that I can have a record to look back on. A handful of my readers also homeschool, so I hope that they can get some ideas of what works well and what doesn't from my experiences.

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Rachel B said...

I think you're an amazing mom and teacher. I want to come to your school :) Good for you!

Annalea said...

Thanks so much for sharing, Birrd. Now that we're Oregonians (still trying to adjust to that bit), I've got a little more to worry about with the state of homeschooling here. I'm glad to see the way your munchkins have responded to school. I'll try to post similar stuff over at my blog. Wish me luck!

Anna said...

You're rad. I'm thinking about homeschooling but WAY down the line. I wouldn't worry about the potty training thing, it has actually been a work in progress for the last year. You're a great mom!