Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Month 1 of Homeschooling on the Books!

The start of gymnastics!
This past week, we were overtaken by a summer cold, so the weekly post had to wait until my head cleared out :)  Little bean started her extracurricular activity for the fall and I'll have more pics and video to follow.

I've been thinking a lot this week about how homeschooling is going so far this year.  I'm very new to the idea of homeschooling.  I remember in my early 20's being adamantly against homeschooling....then little by little, our family was led to it.  It started with some fellow preschoolers with major attitudes and led to a 4-year old preschool experiment and now we're getting into the real school years.  At the beginning of the year I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to teach her as well as a classroom could.  My conviction that this is the right decision for our family grows stronger every week. 

We started the school year the first week of August this year.  We'd had plenty of vacations this summer and it was time to get going on reading, writing and arithmetic.  The little bean is in kindergarten this year, so the whole focus of the year is letter recognition, letter writing, number recognition, number writing, learning to read and learning basic math concepts.  The focus leans heavily towards learning to read phonetically so that in first grade, she'll be able to do all her subject work by being able to read the assignments.

My favorite free resource of all the resources I've found is ProgressivePhonics.com.  It's free, you register and print off wonderful story books and activity sheets to encourage phonics-based reading skills.  The stories are hilarious to small children and little bean looks forward to the printing of a new book like it's a dessert.  The characters are great and they're just the best resource for encouraging that genuine wonder and love of learning. 

Progressive Phonics has been the basis of our reading curriculum this year.  It's working out very well and we're already through sounding out half the alphabet in stories, so we'll be looking for new resources to start probably at year-end. 

Little bean has been starting to really get the idea of sounding words out.  Those moments when I watch the wheels turn and then the right word comes out are priceless.  The first time she sounded a word out, I thought, "we really can do this!".  As priceless as it is to watch the more formal schooling end of things progress, the bond we are developing is a treasure.  Sometimes it's a struggle to try and get all the chores and exercising into the day and feel like I've given her the kind of day she wants and needs, but sometimes it all just comes together. 

This morning I woke earlier than usual.  I'd done tons of chores yesterday, so the house was in good shape.  I made some pancakes, then little bean and I sat down to read, do number flashcards and a few activity sheets.  Once we'd finished with lessons, it was only mid-morning, so she put on her swimsuit and we went down to a new local park with free sprinklers and cool playground equipment.  As we were loading up to get in the car, she turned to me and said, "I'm so lucky you're my mom".  I didn't get much cleaning done today......but we couldn't have had a better time together. 

As I reflect on this month of kindergarten, sometimes I have felt like she's missing an experience so many other kids have and worry about how her life will work out, whether she'll be happy and sucessful, etc. 

But then I breathe.  I think about these moments that we are sharing and I know I will never regret this bond.  I will never regret spending time with my child over all the things I could be doing for financial gain while she studied away in school.  Sure, she would be happy in school.  Sure, I feel the need to go out the way to ensure my only child (not always, God willing) has plenty of peer group experiences.  Sure, we would probably still be close even if she were in school all day.  But when I am old and gray and she has started a family of her own, I will never regret giving her all I had to give while she was a child.  I will never regret spending her childhood with her in every moment I was able.........and that's why I do it, because I feel so blessed and honored to be her earthly guardian that I can't imagine not spending this time with her.  I am blessed.  I am blessed.  I am blessed.

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