Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Everything New is New Again

So this is our first year with a new curriculum.  ANY new curriculum offers a bit of hesitation on our parts as Mom/Teacher, right? For the most part, I am completely excited about using Sonlight this year, but I do have some concerns.

Actually, they aren't even all about the curriculum but just the year in general. When you teach public school, the only thing that really changes each year is the class. Will I get a good class or a class from...? It goes in cycles and you KNOW when you are due one of THOSE classes. But your room, the curriculum, the furniture, how you set up your calendar, your lesson plans, your routines, they don't change a whole lot from year to year. If you stick with one grade long enough, you can get your room set up in no time. It's just a new group of kiddos coming through your already established classroom.

Sweetheart ready for 1st grade at our church's school. 
But with homeschooling? Practically everything changes! My students are the same this year (some of you may be adding new little ones to the mix), but they are one year older. They are in new grades. And even though we are now at a repeating stage--Little Bit is in 2nd grade which is where I started homeschooling Sweetheart--I'm not doing anything the same way so it's like a completely different grade anyway. This year the only thing staying the same is our classroom. (Rearranged, of course!)

The last few years we stuck with the same curriculum for the most part so we had settled into a comfortable routine of how to do things. Leave it to me to mess that all up!

The incoming 6th grader--5 years later!
Sweetheart will be in 6th grade and will soon turn 12 years old. I need her to be more independent as this really needs to be The Year Little Bit Gets Caught Up On Some Things. I need to focus a lot on Little Bit's reading and math and for that to occur, Sweetheart needs to be way more independent. She isn't one of those naturally independent kiddos.

For example, when she was 3 and I was pregnant with Little Bit, Sweetheart would need to go potty or wash her hands or something, but couldn't reach the light. She would call for help and I would have to scramble my big self up from the couch to get the light on for her in time. I had to actually teach her how to get the stool and reach the light herself. But Little Bit? Girlfriend was hauling that stool around the house as soon as she could walk getting into everything. I remember telling Sweetheart she was old enough to get dressed by herself. Little Bit took over that job right quick as soon as she was able. Sweetheart has always just needed a little more prodding. This year is no different.

Little Bit---otherwise known as Trouble!

And the schedule? Yikes. How to find time to work with each girl, fit in all the subjects, and navigate around curriculum choices that DO involve me? Well, here's is what I like to call Attempt #1.
2nd grade on the left, 6th grade on the right

 I just stuck them on with sticky tac so they are totally movable. I love that. Now I can rearrange at will and they line up horizontally. What I mean is, I can see what one girl is doing while the other one is doing math or whatever. That way I can make sure not to schedule myself to be in 2 places at once.

A most helpful tip for any new homeschoolers! (And I have a break too, it just isn't reflected on their schedule cards.)

The little pictures indicate "work with mom" or "independent work." 
We are just going to stick with review work for Math and Spelling the first week. That won't take so long and  will just help us get used to the order of things before we start new lessons in everything.

So...it's a new year. With a new schedule. New curriculum. New grade levels. New expectations.

But the same reasons that homeschooling and figuring all this out each year is important.

Reason #1:

and Reason #2:


  1. I love the way you did your schedule side by side - and the little pictures are cute.

    I have never done a schedule very well and didn't even attempt one the last two years. However, I am thinking for my little guy, it might be the kind of structure he needs so I may try one for him.

    Have a great new school year!

  2. okay I love it and WANT to implement BUT what do you do on those days when you leave to do a field trip or you run errands or daddy forgets his phone or the ac is out? Do you skip subjects just start with your "first" subjects and work till you run out of time? so you are doing EVERY one of those subjects EVERY day?

    if one girl is sick do you still do the Together work?

    how will you work in a school movie or a take long craft?

    what writing is Little Bit doing that it is all on her own.

    will you let the independant kid ask questions or must they be quiet and wait to ask

    I am thinking about checking math indvidually with each child before lunch EACH day-- whichever kids I am NOT checking with makes lunch or sets up lunch and then after lunch I only have to check one kids math? thoughts?

  3. That is what mine would look like if I put it up like you did. I too, am trying to coordinate the subjects so I don't need to be two places at once.

  4. Oh, I LOVE!!! that visual schedule idea! Good thinking! I have a feeling you'll find your grove pretty quickly, because you're awesome like that and all ;-) Have a GREAT year!! :D

  5. OK CARRIE you are stressing me out!!!
    #1 No. Not every subject every day. Fridays there is no handwriting, science, or spelling.
    So, if we have to take daddy his phone, we'll just pick up with what's most important. Probably that means "get Sonlight done" for Sweetheart b/c it's a 5 day schedule.
    #2 Together stuff when someone is sick--no. We usually wait until they are better. Unless they can just listen.
    Movie days are Fridays. Long crafts too.
    #3 Little Bit will be doing writing like this:

    #4 You can't see it, but on Sweetheart's schedule, there is a smiley face (for independent) with a ? beside it, meaning independent, but I'm available for help. The only time she is forbidden is during LB's reading and Math b/c dear me she needs my undivided attention that hour. If S can't figure it out on her own, she'll have to wait until after school to get help--delaying her getting done with school. I figure that out to weed out "real" questions from "helplessness."

    Your math idea sounds good. I'm all about kids making lunch!

  6. sorry didn't mean to stress you out-- but it is great to think out these issues BEFORE right! :0)

  7. Right! And you made me realize we aren't doing anything together this year!!!! What? how did that happen?

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