I haven't been blogging much this semester, but that doesn't mean we haven't been doing things. ;) With the start of a new year, I would like to take some time to look back on 2011, on what I accomplished, what I've learned.
I would love to be able to sit down and compare my goals to what I accomplished, but I have to say that that is one of my failings, and perhaps something to work on for 2012: keeping my goals where I can see them, revisit them, and therefore have a better chance of accomplishing them.
So, instead of comparing to my goals, I'll think about what my kids have done, what I've done and see what there is to keep and what there is to add. My memory will best be able to touch on this past semester, so that will be my focus.
First, I'll talk about my son. I can't say that he's moved ahead much in writing, math or other studies. He still reads a lot, although has returned to reading comics. The good thing is that he spent weeks recently reading Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs), in French. This past semester, I did get him doing more math and some writing, but my biggest failing has always been and continues to be my inconsistency in the name of flexibility. This is definitely an area of growth to work on in 2012.
For my daughter, she has definitely been doing more schooly work, at her request. As the semester rolled on, however, an energy and motivation waned, she did less and less of the academic work asked of her. She did get going as I had planned, with science, math, French and some English. I never put together a proper social studies program, so she has not done much in that regard. She is wanting more structure, more accountability, however, and the last month before Christmas was spent focusing far too much on the 17yo who homeschools with us. (He has a diagnosed Learning Disability and some serious motivational issues.) On the whole, though, I'm not displeased. I did follow through at least initially and for a good while and it will be fairly easy to get back into it.
The 17yo... This was a tough semester and I fell into the whole dilemma of how much to let him sink or help him swim. I probably ended up helping him too much, as usual. The semester started off reasonably well, but I'm not sure what happened. I do know that I need to think about how to prevent it from getting bad this coming semester. His 2nd semester will be even harder than his first and he really will need to stay on top of things to get it all done and pass.
My now 4yo niece, I'm afraid to say, has been wholly educationally neglected on my part. I did start doing a bit before Christmas, but she really deserves to have more done with her.
I think rather than looking ahead to the whole of 2012, I'd like to focus just on this last part of the school year, from now until the end of June.
What would I like to accomplish with each child?
My son: Morning work time each and every day. His current habit, even when he has a bit of assigned work, is to play with his 4yo cousin or to just go off and do his own thing. I've told him that needs to change and that even his cousin ought to be doing school stuff in the mornings. My idea at the moment is to work out an education plan for him, work out weekly lessons I can present and work activities that he can do on his own. Part of that work will entail his doing things with his cousin. For example, maybe he'll show her some sandpaper letters or I'll just give him some sandpaper letters that she's done and she can work on handwriting while he does. He can show her some practical life things, like tying bows and taking care of plants. He can work on his math while she does a math activity beside him, etc. It might sound very "connected" for the both of them, but she's at a point where she usually wants to follow what others are doing, so to start with, I am thinking of having her do more or less the same subject area that he is.
What do I want most to accomplish with him by the end of the school year? I want him able to write a paragraph. What things need to be done before then? Handwriting--he still hesitates on how to write certain letters or it's just a mess. Spelling--I think a good deal of the reason he doesn't like to write is in part because he's always second guessing how to write things. I could have him work on both English and French spelling, although I'm tempted to work on just the French to start with. I want him to have covered all that he would have covered in school for math. I think the best thing for me to do for that would be to print off a sample provincial achievement test, show it to him and tell him that other grade 6 kids will be tested on this at the end of the school year. We can go through the concepts one-by-one until he can do it all reasonably well. I have at least one Montessori math album that could be useful.
That's another thing: I have several Montessori albums that I never use!!! I have a couple of years' worth of science that I can do with him, I have functional geography, too. I have stuff!! I just need to make use of it.
I'm feeling a bit disjointed in my thoughts right now and hope it's not affecting this post too much. ;) In any case, I have a vision of having him work a bit on everything. Plant the seeds of interest while focusing on the mastery of skills. The knowledge stuff doesn't matter to me too much--as long as he's learning and knows how to learn. The skills, those basic reading, writing and math skills... Those matter to me.
How to do this?
First, I need to sit down and plan, prepare. I have to make the time for this. Actually, before that, I need to spend time praying and reflecting, daily. While I may pray daily, I recall commenting to someone ages ago about how our school days fall apart if I don't specifically pray in the morning about them. I have to say it's still very much true. After prayer and reflection--journalling at night is ideal--then I can properly plan and prepare. I'm thinking of doing what I did with my daughter and another girl I was homeschooling ages ago: give him a blank work plan. I would put it in, in the appropriate subject sections, work items I would like him to work on. He would be expected to add to that. We have a gazillion books on science, history and geography, and he has a few science kits, so there's plenty to fill up his time by his own choosing.
As I write that just now, I really think that establishing the limit of "morning is school time" will go a long way.
(To be continued!)