Archive for January 2013

Spring Semester 2013

January 13, 2013

All of my well-laid plans for the fall semester of 2012 went awry when we decided to put Bailey in school mid-semester.  There were so many adjustments to be made, things were so hectic, and I was so exhausted.   There were a few days when I literally forgot to do school with Piper.

But a new semester offers a chance to make a fresh start.  Now I’ve only got a first grader, a preschooler, a toddler, and infant with which to contend during the day, and only two of them do any formal schooling at this time.

Piper will be doing a little more work this semester than the last.  This will be her schedule:

Math:  We’ll continue with Singapore Math 1B, doing math five days each week.  I anticipate that we will finish 1B within the first six weeks and then start on level 2A around week seven.

Reading:  Last semester we did reading lessons three days per week; this semester we’ll be moving up to five.  Last semester Piper read about 2/3rds of The Elson Reader Book One, but she and I were both finding it a bit tedious.  She was also getting really bored with the Level B Phonics book by Pearson (used for 2nd graders by Kolbe Academy).

This semester we’re going to do a hodge-podge of reading activities.  We’ll still do some pages from the Pearson Level B, but not every page.  I’m going to try (yet again) some read-aloud time two days each week, starting with the book Ivy & Bean.   We may try some audio books, some library books, and some reading/spelling games and activities (like Boggle or having a spelling bee).

History:  History will still be two days each week, but we have A LOT of material to cover as we study events from 1900 to the present day.

Logic:  Piper will continue with Mind Benders Beginners Book 1, doing two puzzles per week.  She’ll probably finish the current book halfway through the semester, and then we’ll move on to Book 2.

Science:  Last semester, the extent of our science was watching one video of Bill Nye the Science Guy every Monday.  This semester we’ll continue with that, but on Wednesdays and Fridays we’ll be using the Harcourt Science 2nd Grade Text and Work books along with the corresponding Kolbe Academy first grade science syllabus.

Faith Formation:  We are still receiving monthly packets from the Family Formation program, but we will probably be using it in a limited fashion this semester.  Our most important goal this semester is to prepare Piper to make her first Reconciliation during Lent and her First Holy Eucharist sometime this spring or summer.  The first six weeks we’ll be working through The New Saint Joseph First Communion Catechism, solidifying her memorization of the basic prayers, doing an examination of conscience and walking through the confession process.

Katie will turn five in May and as such would be eligible for kindergarten in the fall (if we planned to send her to regular school).  Since Bailey and Piper both had late birthdays (right after the school cut-off date in August) it made sense to start them on kindergarten a semester early.  Katie already asks to do schoolwork, and I think she would benefit from starting a semester early also.

So, I’m going to make a real effort to sit down with Katie at least three days a week to work in either her Singapore Essential Math Kindergarten or her phonics workbooks.  We may also try a few Five in a Row read-aloud activities that I previously prepared  for the older girls at this age.

I’d also like to get in the habit of doing something fun with the girls each day:  baking something yummy, exercising, playing a game, or even just coloring and drawing together, something that I can incorporate Sabrina (2) into also.

We’ll just have to see how certain things go as the semester progresses.  No matter what happens, though, I know it will be a time of continued learning and development for all of us.

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Real School: 7 Things Double Feature

January 5, 2013

Bailey has been in “real” school for almost 3 months now.  It was a bit of an adjustment for our whole family for awhile.  It would be very tempting for me to only focus on the things I don’t like about Bailey being school, but in an attempt to be more fair and honest I’ll start with the positive.

7 Good Things About Bailey Going to School

  1. More Time:  It has freed up a 2-hour block of time during my day that was spent fighting with supervising Bailey’s homeschool work.
  2. “Positive” Peer Pressure:  Bailey has had to step up and learn to deal with disappointments and frustrations in a less volatile manner because she doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of her friends.
  3. Jumbled Birth Order:  Piper is now “the oldest” during the day and is having the opportunity to learn that being in charge means serving others. 
  4. Friendly Faces:  We are more connected with our parish community as we recognize different families at Mass and they recognize us.
  5. Support for Homeschooling:  Bailey has demonstrated that homeschooling hasn’t damaged her socially or academically, since she has proven herself more than competent at getting along with classmates and learning the new material.
  6. Extra Graces:  Since Bailey goes to a Catholic school, she attends Mass an extra day each week and attends Eucharistic Adoration once a month.  They also pray every morning, before and after lunch, and at the end of the day.  I think all of the extra graces have been really good for her.
  7. Individual Needs:  School has been fulfilling some of Bailey’s specific needs that just couldn’t be filled in our homeschooling environment.  Bailey is an extreme extrovert, and with only having one vehicle I just could not set up as many opportunities to socialize as she needs.  More importantly school keeps Bailey busy almost all day; she’s someone who just doesn’t do well with too much free time.

7 Bad Things About Bailey Going to School

  1. Early Mornings:  Having to be up every morning at 7 am is killing me, especially after multiple nights when the baby won’t settle down until 1 am.
  2. Lunch:  Bailey is completely grossed out by the school lunch program, so I have to pack her a lunch every morning.
  3. The Money:  It’s not just the cost of tuition.  There’s the fundraising.  There’s the charity donations.  There’s the special event supplies.  There’s the special t-shirt or skirt/dress for the special dress down day and the Christmas program.  It’s the nickel-and-diming that really gets to me.
  4. Negative social interactions:  Bailey has never lived in a bubble, but up until now we’ve been able to minimize negative social interactions or at least supervise and offer guidance.  While the girls at her school have all been really nice, there have been issues with a few of the boys.  There’s one boy who apparently gets volatile every few weeks, throwing things and making threats.  Another boy is apparently the class pest, and Bailey has been his most recent target.  Then there are curse words and inappropriate comments on the bus.  Bailey eats up some of the drama, but it is a little disconcerting to have so little input or control of the situation.
  5. Homework:  I will have to give Bailey credit for trying to finish as much of work as possible at school, but having to set aside time for homework each night gets old really fast.  There are papers to be signed, school information to go over, and then supervising the work that wasn’t finished during the school day.  It’s like homeschooling without the control or flexibility of being the sole teacher.
  6. Loss of Flexibility:  Speaking of flexibility, we didn’t get to take the girls to see Santa until a few days before Christmas and had to deal with a long wait.  In the past we would have gone during the day while everyone else was at work and school, breezing in and out of Bass Pro Shop.  But now we are a slave to Bailey’s school schedule for doctor’s appointments and special activities.  And when my parents come visit in February, Bailey will miss out on some of the time and treats with them.
  7. Uncertainty and Frustration: I usually feel pretty confident as a homeschooler.  As the parent of a school kid, though, I am constantly riddled with insecurity, confusion, and indecisiveness.  I think it is the pressure of having to conform to someone else’s expectations and not always being certain about what they are.Yes, I went to regular school for 12 years, but it is very different being the parent: not being there during the day, not knowing what your child was told to do, and having to trust that your child is reporting things accurately.  Yes, there is a school manual, but we haven’t been there long enough to know which rules the school is strict about and which things they aren’t.

    I know that the other parents deal with all of these things and just accept them as part and parcel of being a parent.  I think it becomes very frustrating for me, though, because we have lived life a different way for so long.  The structures and strictures that others might see as normal, I can’t help but see as annoying a lot of the time.