Monday, August 27, 2012

Stepping off the Cliff: Day 1, Homeschooling

We had our first day of homeschool today for my kindergartener.  The days leading up to this morning were ripe with indecision and fear, wide swings of the emotional pendulum, and a whole lot of neurotic worrying.  Do I believe that group education is what is right for Jetta?  Yes, I do.  Do I believe that being dropped into a classroom with 26 (yes, that's right, 26) other kids is the way to do it?  Absolutely not.  My ideas of the right kind of group education are far from that.

I can't, however, guarentee that we will not decide to enroll her in public education in the near or longterm future.  We're just not that family that has the luxury of not taking advantage of free babysitting so that I can work and possibly double our income.  Survival comes first, and there may be a time when our options are more limited.  For now, my focus will be to prepare Jetta for the possibility of enrolling her, building her independence and getting her ahead of the curve academically.  Were I confident that I would keep her at home indefinitely, Waldorf methods would suit us and delaying reading while working on more organic experiences with language would sustain us.  Instead, we will follow along with standard kindergarten curriculum where she needs it, and advanced work where she is ready. 

Our first day was simple, and my rule for homeschooling is but one:  do something every day for body, emotions, mind, and spirit.  Move the body.  Feed the emotions.  Stimulate the mind.  And exalt the spirit.  If we accomplish one task for each, then we'll have succeeded.  If we do more, then kudos for us.

My first few weeks are loosely planned:
This week is  "All about me".  I pulled books from our stash that had to do with "me" and could validate the process of exploring Jetta and who she is.  After having read three or four with both girls, we came to the table and printed out pictures of Jetta, Jetta and Jade, and both Rob and me.  We're putting the following in her main lesson book:

My name is _______.  (picture of Jetta)
I am homeschooled.
My teachers are my mom and my dad. (pictures of my husband and me)
My classmate is my sister. (picture of Jetta with sister)
My favorite color is _______.
I like to _________.
I am happy when _________.

Words for the week, (sight words)
I, me, my, am

Since Jetta is familiar with the alphabet and sounds, I am having her actually write the sentences out.  One of the things she is weak in is keeping letters between the lines, so this is practice for that, as well as for her learning what a sentence is, beginning punctuation, and working with the sight words.  We'll form new sentences, pointing out where the sight words are, look for them in books that we read, and do a couple worksheets on them.  I have a workbook for sight words that we'll use.

We finished with the first two sentences this morning (lots of interruptions from little sister) and called it quits for today.  She got to color the cover of her lesson book, which is just a thick sketch book from Hobby Lobby, and she drew a picture on the inside of it.  After lunch, we got out wooden beads and made a "first day of homeschool" necklace.  It spelled her name, we counted the beads and how many more she needed (this is math and addition) and sorted colors of beads.

Science didn't really get any attention today, other than noticing that it was sunny and hot (weather), but each day we'll go over the year, month, day, day of the week, season and weather.  I'm hoping to find a calendar that pleases me, but so far we don't have one.  We'll also address the senses as we move through this week and talk more about Jetta, what she likes, how she feels, and what her dreams are.

Next week will depend on how far we have gotten this week.  It may become the "Big Dreams" week, in which we stretch our minds into the future and explore different ideas that are in her mind and heart. 

After that, the themes in September are (for each week):
apples, fall and the Autumn Equinox, the Calendar (seasons, months, days, etc), and pumpkins. 

October will be witches, Samhain/ancestor alter, Halloween and magic, family tree and family history. 

Beginning in November, we'll do leaves, deciduous trees,, take a break for Thanksgiving, and finish November with evergreens.

December themes will be winter holidays around the world, snow stories and snowflakes, giving and gratitude, and then three weeks break.

It's not fancy or all that organized, but for our first day, I feel pretty good about it.

If you're a homeschooler, I'd love to hear about how your school year is starting!

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