Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Ready, set . . . still working on the set part.
As a new school year looms ahead I have lots of motivation simmering. Reading through Charlotte Mason's first book has encouraged and motivated me to start the year right academically and behaviorally. I feel strongly that one of the critical goals of homeschooling has to reach beyond academics into the personality and character of each child. Even as I sit down and write out my schedule and determine our weekly and yearly plans I want to refocus my energies to take advantage of each one of those teachable moments that crop up throughout the day and make sure I don't miss those times to nurture my children's souls.
In order to take full advantage of each day, I need to be prepared to meet the demands of the day head on. Right now I am laying out plans, determining schedules, setting goals, tracking down books, organizing our home, and preparing in any way possible. Here is some of the nitty gritty of what is taking place in our home right now.
Plans . . . For this coming year I have decided to follow the Ambleside online schedule. We have used this loosely in the past, and knowing my eclectic tendency to never buy into any method whole hog, it will remain somewhat loose this year. This year I want to follow the schedule a little more and take advantage of more narration, notebooking, and nature studies. We are all quite excited and while this does put some more demands on our schedule, I also think it will raise the bar even more as far as academics.
Goals . . . Each year I establish goals for each child, our schooling in general, and myself personally. Although these hover around academics I also incorporate spiritual, professional, extra-curricular, physical, financial, and familial goals as appropriate.
Organization . . . With our resignation from houseparenting we currently have a lot more room at our disposal and for the first time we have a designated homeschool room. We have already taken advantage of it and I love it! Before we had school paraphernalia in the kitchen and dining room and laundry room and great room and bedrooms and, you get the picture. Now we have everything in one place. Everything school related from records to books to school supplies to reference material to tables and chairs are all in one room. I love this! It allows us true focused time and space to do our school work.
Curriculum . . . while Ambleside provides the bulk of our framework, we do have other sources for math, English grammar, handwriting, and a smattering of other subjects. Last year I finally (I know, a little slow) sat down and really figured out which curriculum we would use for which subjects at each grade level. Now, different children at time need changes made to this plan, but just having this in writing gives me a great foundation to start with and we can flex from there as needed.
Schedule . . . New Year, new schedule. Sometimes it changes multiple times throughout the year. Especially when we had babies on the scene, I tweaked my schedule every couple months or so depending on nap schedules. My schedule for this coming year takes two significant changes into consideration over last year: I no longer work and no one needs a regular nap (except me, but I won't whine too much without one.)
So, here is our rough school day schedule:
8:00 breakfast (together as a family almost everyday, I'm so excited!)
8:45 Bible time
9:15 one-on-one school with Blake
This is when I review work, intro math and English and do some reading together
9:45 school with Paige
10:15 school with Faith
10:45 school with Brooke and Nathan
11:15 flex time (I need this, because invariably at least one school time runs long or some interruption crops up -- right now that's potty training)
11:45 Make lunch
12:15 Lunch and clean up
1:15 Active time/PE
1:30 Household chore time (for now we have a lot more rooms to clean, so we need more time in the schedule for this)
2:00 Reading together outside if weather cooperates (right now we read one chapter of Child's History of the World, a couple pages in Shhh, We are Writing the Constitution, and a chapter in Around the World in 80 Days) This will change a bit once we jump into Ambleside more fully.
2:30 silent reading time
3:00 Weekly projects (rotates through: nature, Plutarch, Shakespeare, Geography, Art, Music, etc.)
3:30 Finish individual school work and then choice time -- outside if weather allows
We've followed this roughly for the last couple weeks, with a little lighter academics since it is still summer and I think it work well for us at this place in our lives.
Underneath all the planning, I pray that my love for my children shines through each day and each activity. The greatest thing I can give my children is love, showing them the love of the Father and turning their attention to Him continually, I love this poem as a reminder of that. I pray that they will learn, and love to learn, and most of all that they will learn to love and live for Christ alone even more in the school year that lies ahead.