Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crackle and Sniff

What's that sound I hear? It's new textbooks and workbooks being cracked open for the very first time. It's the pages of a new favorite historical novel being flipped. What's that I'm smelling? My favorite scent: new books and paper, freshly sharpened pencils and math blocks.

What's the occasion? It's the first day of school in The LeBedz Homeschool! I know the name is not very original, but it's what we came up with over ten years ago when we first set out on this adventure. A few years ago, I thought we could get creative and change the name to something more imaginative, but I was voted down.

Anyway, we started ou tenth year of homeschooling four days ago. Sissy is in 10th grade, Kitty is in 6th grade, and Mom is learning geometry, chemistry, fractions, and American history. The official start time for our school days is 8:30 a.m., but Kitty had her pencil poised over her math book at 7:30, even though she wasn't excited. Both girls have breezed through their schoolwork each day and have moved from one subject to the next (although I expect this will change as things get harder through the year) without too much mom intervention.

Really? Yes, really? I'm so glad you asked how I have managed to get them to do that! The secret is in the planning and in the training. Each week, I print out a lesson plan schedule for each child to have on her desk. Usually I use scrap paper to cut down on our paper consumption, but either way, it's a worthwhile investment. By having their own schedules, they can easily see what is expected of them for each day. All textbooks, workbooks, and reading books are right there on their desks. As they complete each subject, they check it off, or cross it off, or whatever. That frees up my time by not having to tell them what to do next constantly. Check out some of my previous posts on planning to get the basics of what, exactly, I'm printing out.

The training part of this equation is what I've been working on for the past several years. It has taken time and effort on my part to train my kids to look at their schedules and to do the next subject. And, I am here to tell you that it is worth it! Lest you think I just throw my kids into the deep end and expect them to do science experiments, to write an essay, or to figure out what 4/9 of 36 is without any help, that is not true! I DO help them with the actual academic subjects as needed. I am available for questions anytime, but each child also has an hour a day of dedicated time with me to work through the more time-consuming projects and questions. Of course, school does not always run perfectly smoothly every day, but I'm sure you've already figured that out.

Now, I've got a true confession for you. Normally I have all of my school planning done weeks in advance. Guess what I was doing the night before the first day of school this year? Yep, I was printing out the schedules for the following day. UGH! They did get done, but I really dislike waiting until the last minute to do them.

Drop me a line and let me know how your first day of school went or what you've got planned for the first day.