Tuesday, May 27, 2008

School Is "Officially" Over

At the close of this week, our family will officially be one year veterans of homeschooling. Elijah is participating in standardized testing for two more mornings. He did well today...I know because I was there peeking over his shoulder while he was testing. Testing wasn't mandatory this year, however, the opportunity arose and we thought it would be good practice for him. Besides, the excellent teacher providing the testing is practically family (my younger brother's mother-in-law).

When I think back over the past year, I laugh at how extremely nervous I was about teaching Kindergarten. I couldn't have told you the difference between the short "a" sound and the long "a" sound. I literally read my teacher's manual word for word for the first few months. I chose a curriculum that spells out in bold type the exact words to say to your student. When reading this dialogue, to get the full effect of how stiff I was, read like a robot!

"Hello ________ (fill in child's name)! Welcome to your first day of Kindergarten. You are going to learn many exciting things this year. Do you know your ABC's? (wait for child to answer - If child knows ABC's say, "GREAT!" If child does not know ABC's say, "That's what we're going to learn this year!") The first sound we are going to learn is the short "a" sound. Repeat after me, "a" says a as in apple, "a" says a, a, a. (repeat three times)."

And so it went, until I got comfortable enough with the curriculum and my own ability to not be a robotic. I am thankful for the Abeka program (http://www.abeka.com/) because it is definitely what I needed for the first year however, we are going to branch out for first grade.

A funny thing happened over the past few weeks that, once realized, has given me a measure of satisfaction and excitement. We finished all our lessons at the very beginning of May and took a few weeks off - no workbooks, no read-alouds, no math facts - no school related activities. I had so many issues in a bad way. The boys were seemingly out of control and bored and picking at each other. I felt totally useless, unmotivated, uninspired, lazy and gloomy. I finally realized that our family had been truly thriving on the routine of our school days. Guess what we've started doing again???? ROUTINE! Guess who's bickering less? MANCUBS! Guess who's got a new perspective on the summer? MANCUB MAMA! I am excited to "do school" over the summer! The boys jumped on their workbooks with no complaints this afternoon! I love it! There is no reason to halt our learning. We are going to read every day: family read-alouds, individual reading for Elijah and picture books for Luke and Isaac. We are using Explode the Code (http://www.explodethecode.com/) workbooks to keep up with handwriting and phonics as well. Luke will be working on learning his letters and their sounds through his Explode the Code workbooks. We'll take lots of trips to the library. We'll continue monitoring our garden and learning about seeds and plants. We'll take lots of field trips. We'll meet friends for outings and play. We'll take swim lessons. We'll essentially be "doing school" everyday because it's becoming our lifestyle and habit to make the most of every opportunity to learn something new. I'm excited to see what the summer holds!

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