Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Our new school year is almost upon us!

And may I say that I'm nervous, but excited?

You may remember that I attended a Catholic homeschooling conference in Atlanta this year, and had the privilege of speaking with Laura Berquist. She said something at that conference that I truly believe was one of the sole reasons for me to be there:

"Jesus loves your children more than you do, and wants you to succeed at homeschooling. Bring your planner and make a Holy Hour each week in front of the Blessed Sacrament before you plan out your homeschooling."

I took that to heart and did just that. I brought to Him all my concerns for the upcoming year (teaching six kids plus dealing with a two-year old and a newborn), and I really think He's leading me in a direction I would have NEVER (and I mean EVER) have taken on my own:

Teach them all individually.

By that I mean that I'm going to quit spending 5+ hours each week, trying desperately to combine study and lesson plans for all the kids (so that we can all be learning the same thing at the same time, although at different levels), and instead simply use the appropriate MODG syllabus for each kid this year. That's not to say that I have to stick with MODG for the rest of our homeschooling career, but I think that's where we need to be this year.

Having run this past my husband and gotten his enthusiastic support, I spent the past month or so scouring ebay and Amazon (used), trying to gather together the books for each child. Can I say that there is little in life more exciting than having the UPS truck pull up in front of your house, bringing boxes and boxes of books?

I have been labeling each book with a different colored sticker so that the kids can see at a glance which ones pertain to them, and the kids are already picking up the books and getting excited about the new school year. I've already set up next year's calendar and gotten my own binder set up. The only thing left to do, I believe, is buy the kids their binders and such, and get them to set theirs up.

[as an aside... each child gets a 2" binder and gets to decorate it and set up the tabs for each subject. After I have checked over the work that they've done that day, they are responsible for filing it in their binders. That way we don't have to deal with lost papers, and it makes preparing grades for the older ones a breeze. Each binder also has a pencil case inside, with two mechanical pencils, two regular pencils, a blue, black, and red pen, an eraser, and a glue stick. That was to stop the 20 minute "I can't find a pencil!" schtick that we were going through each morning..]

I'm not going to fool myself. This will be hard, but I think pushing the older ones to do a lot more independent work will (naturally) pay off in the end. That will (hopefully) give me the time that I need to focus on the younger ones, and give them the time, attention, and enthusiasm that they deserve for their first years in school.


Amber said...

Wow, that sounds really exciting! Just the thought of all those new books makes me a little giddy. :-) The dots are a great idea.

I started doing a binder with my daughter last year for 2nd grade (I remember you mentioning it quite awhile ago and I flied it away in my mind as something I wanted to do later... and then I even managed to remember!) and it worked wonderfully. No more drifts of paper, no more piles. And it is fun to look over all her work of the last year - and she has such a pride of ownership about it too. We'll definitely be doing it again this year. Thanks so much for mentioning it!

Ouiz said...

Can't take credit for the dot idea... Sonlight does it, and my next-door neighbor showed me last year. Like you, I filed it in my brain as a "good idea for next year!"

I'm glad the binder works for you as well! For our accountability group here, we have to provide samples of work for each subject, and it just made sense to me to put the children's work in binders to begin with, to save me the agony of scrounging around at the last minute.

Marie, my youngest in school, is soooo excited about having her OWN binder this year!

Suburban Cowgirl said...

Ouiz - I hope your days (nights?) of multi-hour tasking are behind you :) I was always impressed that you dedicated so much time to co-ordinating your kids' work so it all 'fit together.' I wanted to do that, but I knew I wouldn't give the time to it. I'm satisfied with how it's been going with my hs. LOVING RC History as my tie-together. I also know that MODG will work VERY WELL at helping your older ones develop the habit / ability to work independently!

You rock on, girl! AND good luck as you get started and have a baby! ;)

love ya!

Ouiz said...


It worked while I was able to do it, but I know my limitations, and with nursing a newborn and the amazing lack of sleep I'll be getting, I won't be able to put two sentences together, let alone try to coordinate 6 different grade levels so we all learn about (said subject) at the same time.

I admire that you can do RC History. It looks like a great program, and I've always been impressed with how your kids work independently so well. You are light years ahead of us!

You know, the more I look at that picture of the man in the bunny suit, the more I have to admit that you're right... his face does look a lot like my dad... *grin*

Casey said...

I hope you have a smooth year. I've been back and forth about homeschooling for just about 2 years now and have researched the subject and curricula to the point of inaction at times. I've looked into the virtual public schools, putting together a curriculum myself, or buying a packaged curriculum. It's just all so overwhelming.

I do have to say that my youngest (3 1/2) has done preschool at home with me and we used a binder as well, though I think it was a 3 inch. We went over a letter each week and did all sorts of activities and coloring sheets and kept those things in her binder so that at the end she has a big binder with all the letters of the alphabet and pictures of all the fun things we did learning them. We tried to go on a "field trip" that had something to do with the letter and put photos in there, small lapbooks and a book list for each letter or books that went with the letters, she will spend HOURS looking at her binder and giggling at her pictures.

Ouiz said...

Casey, it sounds like you and your daughter had a GREAT year doing the alphabet projects! I love how she looks at her book often and remembers all that you did together. When my three oldest were little ( 3 and under) I put together a binder called "our trip to the zoo," and wrote this silly poem and scrapbooked pictures from our adventure. They LOVED it!! We read that thing so many times...

I pray that God gives you wisdom and peace as you consider homeschooling. I know I researched the topic to death when I was trying to decide what to do! I still do... I have friends who use public schools, parochial schools, co-ops, pre-packaged curricula, do-it-yourself curricula, etc, and all of them have smart, well adjusted kids!

benjaminkids said...

Wow! This sounds FANTASTIC!

Jesus really has the best ideas, doesn't he?

I'm expecting a new baby in late August and have spent many months worrying about how a newborn will 'disrupt" the home-school thing. I finally turned it over to God. It's amazing!

I actually flipped Summer and Fall around this year, (we're working hard this summer and then will take a long Fall break for the baby). My husband and I have also taken a totally new approach to teaching reading. Things are really working well.

It's so nice to think of the new baby as bringing extra grace and help to the home-schooling experiences of her older siblings rather than thinking "Oh no, I'm a teacher whose life is suddenly turned upside down."

Lots of prayers,

Abigail's Alcove

Ouiz said...

Congratulations on your new arrival as well! I love the way you put it: that the new baby brings extra graces, rather than extra burdens!

We ended late this year (mid May! Good grief!), so I had to give the kids... and myself... a well-deserved break before starting again. I'm not sure how long we are going to take after the baby comes, but I'm sure it will be several weeks at least!

He knows what's best for each of our children, and He knows best how to teach them... and I love how there's no one solution that applies to all. For you, it was flip flopping summer and fall; for me, it was (hopefully) teaching them separately; who knows what others will be told what to do!

Many, many blessings to you and your family!

Casey said...

You asked where abouts we were, I'll post it here instead of on my own blog. We're in the Lowcountry, near Charleston. Close enough that I have a front row seat for the Cooper River Bridge Run every year.