Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homeschool Newbie, Volume Two

Image credit:  Flickr

It’s been nearly two months since my last post about our first year of homeschooling.  Back then I was all, “Oh wow, I can’t believe how much I like it!”, which seemed a little bit eye-roll worthy even to me, since we were all of one week in

We’re on fall break this week, but will begin Week 10 of our 36-week school year next Monday.  More than a quarter of the way to the finish line! 

Do you know what?  I still can’t believe how much I like it.  

We’ve fallen into a comfortable routine now, so here’s an idea of what a typical homeschool day looks like for us:

  • I’ve learned that starting with math is best, since it’s Maya’s least favorite subject, and the whole day flows better if she can just knock that one out early.  We’re doing a lot of pre-multiplication stuff at this point, along with larger-scale addition and subtraction.  (Math is not my favorite either, so I'm very glad to have a workbook that comes with a pretty detailed guide!)

  • After she’s finished with math, we usually move on to language arts.  Indiana’s core standards are extremely LA heavy, so we concentrate a lot on those concepts too, in order to stay on track.  Although Maya is in second grade, we’re using a third-grade LA curriculum and there are still things I’m adding in order to cover everything in the second grade common core.  We’re doing a lot with parts of speech, so it’s a fairly common occurrence these days for me to quiz her while we’re driving.  “Wow, look at those beautiful leaves falling gracefully from the tree branches!   Hey Maya – what was the adverb in that sentence?  Adjective?  Prepositional phrase?”  (She’s probably going to get annoyed with that soon.) 

  • Our favorite part of school is when we can snuggle up together on the couch to do her daily Bible reading, scripture memory verse(s), and devotional.  A lot of really cool questions come up during this time.  “Mommy, why did God have to have a ‘chosen people’?  Doesn’t He love everyone?”  “If Jesus hadn’t died on the cross, would God still forgive us for our sins?”  The big questions can be intimidating, but I love that she's thinking so deeply.

  • Then we open up her read-aloud book, currently Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat on Monday-Thursday, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald on Friday.  Both of those are really fun.  Maya also takes a chapter from her own reader, which is one of the Third-Grade Detectives books right now. 

  • In our history lessons, we’ve started through early civilizations, and have been in ancient Egypt now for a week or two.  Thankfully, she and I are both fascinated by history, so we both enjoy delving deep into cultures and events. 

  • Three days a week in science, we’re studying animal species on each continent.  Then on Thursdays we do some experiments, and Friday a study on how things are made. 

  • For spelling, I use the 10 words offered by our curriculum, but add five more from the second-grade high-frequency word list used by our school system.  We practice them every day of the week, with a goal of having them mastered by Friday. 

  • I also have her do some creative writing a few days each week, sometimes giving her a subject or goal (include a sentence using alliteration or a homophone), and other time just letting her make up her own assignment. 

I’ve become more comfortable with mixing things up and staying flexible with the way we work school into our days.  While we generally have a good chunk of time to devote to school, we’re also often doing spelling in the van while running errands, or fitting science into the afternoon if we’re running short on time in the morning with other activities.  We have a homeschool group of other families from church that meets one morning a week, and Maya and I almost always do “field trip morning” at some point too, where we load up our books and papers and head to the coffee shop to do school on location. 

I definitely know that one likely reason this is going so well is that Maya’s personality fits so well with this type of format.  So although there are the requisite groans about school and some whining regarding math, she does enjoy what we’re doing, which helps tremendously.

Yes, there are definitely evenings where I’m not as excited about pulling out the next day’s study books, and days when I think about how much I could get done if she were in school all day.  But for the most part, this experiment continues to surprise all of us in a really great way!

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