Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pulse Check for our Home School Journey

We are three months into our home school year and I thought it would be a great time for a "pulse check". I think its good to ask how are things going thus far, are my expectations being met, and is there anything I would like to change.
The first question I will tackle is how are things going. I can honestly say things are going very well. Some of that is because I was willing to be a bit flexible in our plans. While I am roughly following the plans I had for this year, we are doing them at a different pace. We are still moving ahead in math, science, and reading - but our schedule is much more laid back than I originally anticipated. Its not that we aren't getting things done, it that things get done so much faster than I thought they would. If I dedicated the time to their "school work" I originally thought I would - my four year old twins would be doing third or fourth grade work by now! We literally do a chapter of math every time we sit down and focus on it. Its not that we are rushing, its just when the kids get into a "zone" they are really focused. So, instead of chugging along at breakneck speed - we take things in spurts and follow lots of rabbit trails along the way. I also added additional curriculum. We are following 2 1/2 math curriculum at this point. We are doing Singapore Math, Life of Fred Math, as we utilize Montessori resources. I also throw in some Kumon Workbooks for fun. All of my kids are still working at least one grade level ahead in math (this is in addition to their grade skipped levels). For reading - we are using Understanding the Logic of English, Bob Books, and Starfall. This approach is providing the depth my kids desire along with a good amount of diversity to keep their attention.
When it comes to my expectations being met - I would say we are "sort of" there. I envisioned our school days being a bit more structured than they are. I like our more unstructured approach, but this is still off base from my original intent. Thankfully our weekly newsletter is providing me an opportunity to catalog fairly well the things that we are doing. I think I will also need to add a more structured account of the things we accomplish though - for my own cataloging purposes. However, my expectations are being met in that my children are genuinely happy about their experience and they are learning a lot. They don't ask about "going to school" - which is an honest fear I had. They also don't ask for additional interaction with other children. We often see children on days at the park, my eldest takes home school science classes, and their after school Chinese Club at a local private school provides a pretty good amount of age appropriate interaction. If he really wanted "more" we could arrange it - but right now even he is content with what he gets. I thought we would be spending more time in a co-op type setting, but there just aren't enough hours in the day for that. Right now the kids are fine with that.
As far as what I would change, there are some things I really need to do in more set intervals. One is music practice. We really should be practicing at home much more and probably on a more set schedule. I just haven't found a good "time" in our day to make that happen. I would also like to see us utilize more of our resources for phonological awareness and articulation. The kids are showing good progress in the area, but I would like for this intervention to be close to wrapping up by the end of our school year. I would also like to see more focus on some of our "life skills" than what I have been doing. For instance, my kids need to be more consistent in cleaning their rooms and putting their toys away.
Overall, this journey has been more rewarding than I thought it would be and I look forward to all life has in store for us!

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