We have not yet had our first day of homeschooling. As this is my first year and I tend to be very analytical (Take off the ‘ytical’ is you must) I have spend hours planning out a schedule. I have enough work experience to understand that it probably won’t survive the first day. My plan is to monitor how much time it does take and what books work and adjust accordingly.
I got my curriculum about a week ago. After all the research I couldn’t wait to get my hand on it. When I finally got it all I had a huge pile and a minor panic attack. “I need to read all of this”. After reading the Babycenter Homeschooling group I knew I wasn’t alone. I was reminded of the old joke. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
I opened up each book looked at the table of content and flipped through the first couple of pages. I counted the number of lessons, days, weeks, chapters, or sections and made a spreadsheet. I figured out how many weeks of material each book was given how many day per week I was going to do it. I also guessed at how much time it was going to take each day. The time per day is the biggest question mark.
From that I made up my first week schedule and then my daily plan. I remembered the analogy of putting rocks in a jar. You have to put the big rocks in first so you can fit the little rock around the big ones. If you put the little one in first, the big ones won’t fit. So Student Writing Intensive was the biggest so it went first. Words of Wisdom went next. It is very nicely laid out week by week, day by day. IXL Math and Foreign Language both just have one resource so they each got their own daily time slot. I then filled in some language art spots with vocabulary and spelling. I start social studies with Canadian Governments as I looks like I don’t have much material and I have project plans that require that knowledge. Science we are doing human anatomy. I am using material from CK-12.org as I wasn’t going to pay $80 for a book I hated. My background is heavy in the sciences.
So the plan for out first day. Wake up a 6:30 am. That is my wake up time but I’ll have the kids up by 6:45. Breakfast starts at 7am. We also have to get my daughter who is continuing in the public system ready for the day. She has already indicated an interest in homeschooling next year. She will have the opportunity to choose again next year. 8 am is exercise. My son’s ADD medication takes 1/2 an hour to take effect and we have found that exercise first thing in the morning helps with his concentration. Daddy could also use the exercise. Bible is 8:30 am. Again we found that quiet prayer helps with concentration. Math and Student Writing Intensive are next. This when he is most likely to be most focused. I put the break in the middle of language arts as that is his toughest course. That may change I think it will help but I could be very wrong. We then have Foreign Language and music/art. After Lunch we will have quiet reading. Some of that will be assigned for his course work but mostly it will be his choice. We then have either Science or Social Studies. These are his favourites so I am putting them at the end of the day. The last item is writing. We wants to be a writer so this will be free writing. This is also the time that I will have to go get my daughter from school so he will have no distractions. My toddler and I will be out of the house.
Now that I have a plan I am back to being confident and look forward to getting started. Now my wife just reading this post has pointed out that I only have a four day week and my daughter has a short day on Tuesday and the kids have Dentist appointments on Friday. I knew all of that. I made the dentist appointments. Guess I need to re-plan already.
This year I will be homeschooling my Grade 5 son Philip. He loves to read and devours books. A number of nights I’ve checked in on them before I go to bed and find him still reading. He also loves science and we talk frequently about it. He also wants to be a writer. There he needs a lot more practice.
Philip has a complex history that affects a wide range of things. He is a two time cancer survivor. He was first diagnosed at age 3 1/2 with neuroblastoma. He under went 9 month of heavy chemo, surgery, radiation. They finished with Megadose chemo and a stem cell rescue of his bone marrow. With the stem cells they harvested them from him early in treatment and froze them. The Megadose wiped out his bone marrow and they gave him back his frozen cells and regrew his bone marrow. He was cancer free for a year and then it came back. They hit it hard with radiation and more chemo. A year later it was no longer visible. We continued the chemo for another year. He has now been cancer free for 4.5 years and off treatment for 3.5.
The positives out of this. First he has a very deep spiritual life. He knows the odds he beat were not good and he recognize and thanks God for that. Second he doesn’t give up. That can be double edge sword at times but overall a positive. Third he believes in his own abilities. He is not one to not try because it looks difficult. That is also a double edge sword. I sometime thinks he looks at things like “It has a 1 in 10000 chance of killing me but I beat a cancer that had a 4 in 5 chance so I can do it”. I can no longer keep up to him on skis. He confidently does double black runs. Fortunately my wife can keep up with him.
The negatives beside the obvious one. First he is very small for his age, about 1 percent on the height and weight charts. The doctors are keeping an eye on that but it is a common side effect. It means that he is the smallest by far in his class. Its so bad that it looks like he doesn’t belong. It also means he’s a target. He also gets angry easily and some of the kids learned which button to push. Needless to say that lead to some disciplinary problems. Last year he went from grade 3 to grade 4. Where we are there are class size limits that change at that point. So grade 3, 16 classmates, grade 4, 32. Back to the negatives.
He also has high frequency hearing loss. What it means that there are certain sounds he can not hear. He can compensate with filling in the blanks from context. He also has access to a portable FM system and the teacher is amplified. It won’t be a problem for me homeschooling.
Philip also has ADD and although I have tried a number of alternative regiments and have some more to try he is medicated. With medication he does very well. Days that we forget well that’s another story.
So that’s or basic background. We are homeschooling because we don’t have the behaviour problem except at school. Not that I expect everything to come up roses. While he is a good student we believe that he can do better in a better environment. I am also cautiously optimistic that I can reduce his ADD medication. We can cover topics at his pace and tailor to his learning style. Overall I can’t wait to get started.
This will will our first year homeschooling so one of the concerns was where we would have him work. The obvious answer was at my wife’s desk in our office. She never uses it and in had become a pile of all things ‘Important’. I’m guilty as well. A day of sorting revealed that it was indeed a desk.
I put some of the curriculum I have on the desk. The book on top is ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The laptop is my wife’s that she doesn’t need during the day. The kids have their own computer downstairs he can use in the evening if needed. During the day I want him in sight. The stuff that wasn’t garbage or recycling needed a home plus I was going to need some more storage for curriculum and other material. As this office was once a bedroom I put shelves in the closet.
The goal was to have boxes in the back and school material in the front. Over the last couple of weeks thing have migrated into the closet that need to be resorted. I probably won’t do it until my curriculum arrives so I have something to fill the space with. Organization is going to be a challenge. I have a ancient cork-board for anything that we want to display. You can see some water staining on it and there was nothing on the back to attach it thus the 4 screws with cardboard in the corners.
The final thing was a whiteboard again I’m not sure where it came from but its been re-purposed as a to-do list. We’ve been using it through the summer and it was been working great. The kids love to be able to cross items off their list.
I redid the board for the morning. With all the crossing out from Friday it was a mess.