Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Transition

I'm sitting here wrapped up in my leopard print birthday Snuggie with the laptop.

I just wanted you to have a visual.

If you read Carissa's blog, you know she is really good about transitioning her kids in school. What I mean is, when Krash, her current pre-schooler, needed to move from "Tot School" expectations to "Pre-school" expectations, she had a whole plan and spent time going through those changes with him. She didn't just say one day, "OK.You're 4. Time to get to work!"

That's very wise and S and I have been talking about the need for Sweetheart (5th grade) to transition into more of an independent student. Unfortunately, I'm ahead of Carissa in children's ages so I can't just use all the awesome printables and downloads and units she will be sure to come up with when her children are this age. Shoot.

I know that there won't be a grand "now you are in middle school" feel to Sweetheart's school experience seeing as how she'll still be sitting in the same homeschool room with me and her little sister. Not too much frightening about that. We're considering shoving her in the closet some mornings on her way to the homeschool room and making fun of her each afternoon just so her experience will be authentic.

Anyway, it really hit me that this is the second half of her 5th grade year and it's time to start a transition. So, after talking it over with S, this is what we came up with.

We used to start our morning doing all of our "together" subjects (Bible, History, Science) in one fell swoop. Then, the girls had contact papered charts of what they needed to do the rest of the day so they could check things off with a marker and re-use the chart the next week too. Some of the subjects were independent and some required me. It didn't matter to me what order they did them in but they couldn't both work with me at the same time, obviously. This was working just fine. But it's the new year and I wanted something fresh.

Now, I have a binder for Sweetheart with all her independent work inside. This took more effort on my part than just going day by day but it's worth it. She begins her school day at her desk under her loft.

Uh, it's cleaner now.

And I begin the day with Little Bit in the school room doing reading, spelling, journal and handwriting with her. Little Bit LOVES having me all to herself first thing in the morning.

Here is what Sweetheart is doing in her room:

1. Read one chapter of the Bible. (Right now she's reading John and I made a list for her to check off. Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.)

2. Write in journal. I made an assignment sheet for the week. Yesterday's assignment looked like this:

Wednesday  January 5, 2011
Write a story about a baby ladybug. You may draw a picture at the bottom of the page when you are through.

So, the date is right there for her to copy into her journal and each day has a new assignment. Since she read over them all on Monday, I know she's been thinking about what she wanted to write ever since then. And that's a good thing because her story about the ladybug had all the story elements in it.

3. Grammar. Here is where she does 2 boxes on a Drops in the Bucket sheet.

4. Math Practice. I printed a bunch of practice worksheets for her (way more than one week's worth) and just let her pick one to do each day. I check it the next morning.

5. Handwriting. One sheet in her Handwriting Without Tears book. I will probably begin to alternate this with copywork next week.

The first morning all this took her 30 minutes. Can you believe that? She LOVED working by herself and knowing exactly what was next. She's already asked me if she had to do things in order and I told her she did not. At a real job, you work on whatever needs doing and no one really tells you "first this, then this" so I'm letting her choose. If her math papers are continuously wrong, we may discuss the need to do math first. We'll see.

Then, the rest of the school day is spent alternating between "together" subjects and individual subjects. The only independent subject Little Bit has is computer time. But that's only because she's in first grade. Doing things this way breaks up all the reading I do and the listening they do in History and Science so that's easier on Little Bit.

So far, so good. This is the first step in having a more independent student. Don't ask me what the next step is, because I haven't a clue.


  1. First off, I'm thinking I really need to read Carissa's blog!

    Secondly, there is so much wisdom in your approach. Thanks for sharing this. Newbies like me need it desperately.

  2. I have a legitimate question about homeschooling, but I'm afraid it will come out as being rude. Hopefully it doesn't.
    Since your girls are different ages/grade levels, when you do classes together like the History and Science, do they both have the same lesson or assignments? Or do you have them both listen to the same lesson, and the older child has a more in-depth assignment than the younger?
    Like I said, I hope this doesn't come off as rude, but I'm really curious about how this works.

  3. I'm so glad you are ahead of me! Then when I get to that point, I won't have to think. :)

    And yes, Terry, Carissa'a blog is amazing! You'll learn so much!

    Amanda, great question! We are just getting into science and history, and I'm thinking of these things myself!

  4. Terry, YES you do!!!

    Amanda--I'm still wondering myself! :) Ha! No, our History curriculum is a lesson you read aloud and then has activities for Younger, Middle, and Older students. You can pick and choose how much you want them to do. A lot of times we do the Younger student activity together b/c they are fun (and for my 1st grader) and sometimes I have my 5th grader do a middle student activity. The next time we go through the curriculum (we will go through it twice), Sweetheart will be old enough to read the lesson herself, and at that time I will have her do all the map work, etc. that goes with it. They both do a timeline. And of course, my 5th grader understands and retains MUCH more of the lesson than my 1st grader. For her it's just an introduction.

    Science is for "elementary" and they both do the same things. Yesterday, for example, we mapped a bird labeling all the parts. Sweetheart did this completely independently and I helped Little Bit by drawing the outline of the bird for her and writing the words as she pointed to the correct place.

    I know it sounds crazy that a 1st and 5th grader could both work together and learn but it actually works!

  5. GO BABY GO! My 14 and 12 year olds are auto-didactic and have been for 4 and 3 years respectively. It's HEAVEN!

    My 11 year old boys, however . . . will get there eventually! :)

  6. Uh...does that mean "independent?" Gotta increase my vocabulary man.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)