Thursday, August 02, 2007

A new year of schooling

Now that we have a school age child the year now seems to have two "new years". There is the first of the year holiday and then there is the new school year. I am a little ambivalent about an official starting and stopping point. Part of me thinks that we've been teaching and learning all along and since we do schooling all year round, what's the point of an official break from one year to the next. But, on the other hand society around us is divided into a fall start school year. When our new "Kindergartener" interacts with other kids her age, parents (and to some extent the kids) want to know what grade she is in or if she is starting Kindergarten this year. I would really prefer to just teach her what she is ready for without concern for what her age group is doing. She was doing some Kindergarten work at this time last year, so is she really in her second year of Kindergarten or is she partially in first grade? We will probably finish her math curriculum early this year. Do I start up grade one math at the end of it or try to stretch it out so that it will better line up with the school year?

I think what we will actually do is take it at the speed that she is comfortable at, keeping in mind that I will be starting up additional subjects with her soon, so that her school day will jump from 30 minutes of structured time to more like 2 hours. I think that I will only care what is grade level up to the point that she masters the subject. Then we will move on. In her church class, she has started the new Kindergarten class with the other Kindergarteners. If she shows in the future that she is emotionally mature enough to move up to where she is academically, then we can worry about jumping a grade. Right now, I think it is more important for her to learn to interact with kids her own age.

All of this is on my mind since we are going to be starting the new school year in our home next Monday. I've got plans. In fact I'm going to try making the lesson plans ahead of time, this year instead of simply record what we did after the fact (like I did last year). I've mentioned that she is doing a Kindergarten level math curriculum. We will also be starting a spelling curriculum that will be reinforcing the phonics lessons she had this last year. She loves to read so we will be doing a mixture of her reading and Mom reading. The stories are springboards for her imagination and she uses bits and pieces to tell stories of her own as well as to use as ideas for her artwork. She will have a weekly chore chart to complete. And, we will try to do art and music every day even though most guidelines I've seen list it as a weekly item. Both of these subjects are important to our family (to the kids too, not just the parents). We will be starting to make a weekly trip to the library for storytime. In September, we will be doing our weekly "MOPS" day (that's Mothers of Preschoolers if you didn't know) where Mommy gets to talk to adults for a change and the kids get supervised age appropriate play time. I have added one extra responsibility on top of it all, by agreeing to be our local chapter's financial secretary.

I'm feeling the pressure already to get my own house in order so to speak, so that I can do this year's homeschooling in addition to an extra outside the home responsibility. And although I only speak of our oldest child as being homeschooled, I will be teaching the others too. Our second child is going to soon be "preschool age" which to me is the age at which most people begin to ask if she is in preschool. She has recently become interested in books and the alphabet. She likes to be read to, and she likes to look at the books herself sometimes. She also wants to draw as much as her sister (though it is currently a mixture of spirals and scribbles). Our youngest, the baby, is about to become mobile. He is currently learning about rice cereal and that Mommy has been using special hand motions when she says certain words. I'm starting to read to him as well. All three kids like it when we go for walks or other outings, so we do that as often as possible. Nothing seems to calm a cranky baby more than to be carried around outside.

There, after writing it all out, it seems like an awful lot to accomplish. I just hope the winter sick season is kind to us this year, but with a child around other kids who attend public school, somehow I suspect it will be more difficult. Oh well, I'll stop borrowing trouble from tomorrow now. If you could spare a few prayers our way, it would be appreciated.

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