With “Babygirl” getting bored (and therefore starting to grate on my nerves), I decided to end summer break and start school on August 1. I have no doubt that we will take a week off in October, and then maybe an extra week in December, to even it all out. So, what is the best way to begin a successful school year?
Establish routine. Before cracking a Math book or heating a beaker, it’s important to firmly and clearly establish your routines. This is essential to a successfully organized classroom, and I fully believe it is also necessary for homeschool. As my daughter gets older, I have different expectations of her each year. I want her to know what I expect from the routine assignments, and for her to be able to do them independently. That way, I can get some of my work done while she is doing the routine work, and then spend my time working with her on new skills.
Same as in my classroom, I plan on spending my first two weeks teaching my new routines. Yes, we will do some review work in this time. We will read some new books. We will do some Science experiments and look at some maps related to social studies, but all of these things are not my focus. I want my daughter to learn how to do things which I will be using all year long.
First, we learned to make a vocabulary booklet, which will be used weekly. This booklet is simply 2 pieces of construction paper, folded over to make a book, leaving a title page and room for 7 vocabulary words. Each day we will successively add the word, writing the definition, copying a sentence with the word from a book, and drawing an illustration that shows she understands the meaning of the word. She doesn’t know it yet, but she will be starting weekly presentations to Daddy and me, showing some items she has learned. The first few will be these booklets, but I want her to eventually be able to create this booklet with little or no help from me, and it will be routine enough that we will not always use it for presentations.
Another new routine which we started today is daily exercise time. This is in addition to our PE time. Even though we are having record-breaking heat, we will be taking the dog out for a walk in the mornings. We won’t go far in this heat, but hopefully the routine will be set by the time the temps drop and maybe we will go farther. We made it around 2 blocks before the 93 degree heat drove us inside (this was about 8:45 am). That’s okay… we’re establishing a routine which I want to continue throughout the year. If we can’t walk because of weather, we will do something inside to move around.
We are also introducing some new reading routines. Before lunch, we had DEAR Time (“Drop Everything And Read”), and after lunch, we had our daily Bible reading time. After that, I read to her. School was over after that, but I wanted her to get used to starting school again after lunch and a short recess break. That is also different from last year, when school was over at lunchtime.
Last year, we did not do projects (Babygirl was just not up to doing anything independently), but this year I plan on it. I will be introducing her first project later this week. It’s a version of what I call a “Me Book.” What better way to get her to work independently than to get her to talk about herself? Besides, as a Mom, I love finding out what she enjoys and hates. It was nice with students – a great way to get to know a new class every year – but it’s more meaningful with my daughter. She will also be presenting that to Daddy and me on Friday night.
We also did some reading and talked some about “time”, which is a big focus in Math this year. We set up her Word Wall and she helped me glue the words to squares of construction paper and then tape them on the wall. She is very excited about the word “chunks” that are taped up there, and she knows she can sound them out. It was hard as we were reading NOT to pick a word to put up on the wall, but I that’s for tomorrow. I don’t want to let my enthusiasm overwhelm her. I found out last year that it is easy to get her to just mentally shut down, and I don’t want to do that. Slow and steady will win this race that I call school. Have a great year!