We began our first day of the new school year today.
In preparation, I have re-done our daily schedule, gone through our new Abeka K5 curriculum and prepared for the first 2 weeks, re-introduced the chore-packs to the kids (we have been a bit neglectful of those), and changed N’s schedule around a bit to make the school day work better.
In addition, I have transformed our dining room into a school room. I hung a ribbon with clips, so I could easily remove things when necessary, and utilized some of the tools from the curriculum as educational “decor” for the classroom. We have a monthly calendar, a yearly birthday calendar, a weather chart, a numbers chart, and several other charts that will be changed throughout the year, including games, colors, letter-of-the-day, and Bible memory verse.
Based on an idea I got from author Terri Maxwell, I also started an annual “school photo” tradition to help preserve first-day-of- school memories:
We have almost completed our first day, and I must say, it has gone suprisingly smoothly. With the baby’s changed schedule, my new schedule, introducing a whole new routine (school curriculum) during the day, and trying to maintain my chores, I expected to have a few bumps. However, we really didn’t have any bumps. I think it was a combination of the kids having already been introduced to school (reading lessons and skills work last year), chores (thanks to Chore packs–even we weren’t that faithful), a schedule (lived by that for the last 7 months or so), and sitting still (family worship and daily devotionals). Today was truly an opportunity for me to witness the fruits of our labor as parents, having spent so much of the last year praying, seeking God’s will in training our children, and taking time to instruct them in appropriate and acceptable behavior. Other than a few minor issues with attitudes and disobedience, it ran quite flawlessly.
Of course, we are only on day 1, however, I love what I have seen of the curriculum so far. I have prepared for the next 2 weeks, so I have become very familiar with the readers, the worksheets, the lessons, the Bible verses, and the Science book. I absolutely cherish the fact that the entire curriculum is based on the Bible. The curriculum relates every subject to God in some way–from the little poems to help JR remember his phonics, to the Science facts supporting creation, to the math lessons containing scripture. I am impressed and appreciative so far. Even the little readers contain stories that offer a biblical moral lesson in life, with a focus on attitude, action, thoughts, or behaviors. An additional and unexpected benefit is that the early lessons are actually right on target with M’s education. Therefore, she is able to participate–either directly or indirectly–in some of our lessons. This allows me to teach both of them simultaneously during some parts of the day, and helps solidify what M has been learning in recent months (like colors, numbers, and phonics).
For anyone who might be wondering, for JR, we decided to include the K5 subjects of phonics, handwriting, reading, math, and science, in addition to our daily Bible devotion. Phonics, reading, writing, and math will be taught 5 days a week, Science 2 days a week, and he will continue his computer phonics lessons the other 3 non-science days. The phonics is very basic, and since JR is already reading, I think most of it will come very easy for him. I hope to use this time and the professional curriculum, though, to review, find any “holes ” in his learning from last year, and generally ensure he is on track with his education. We are also improvising a bit, since he is so far ahead of the curriculum at this point (though it will catch up to him by the end of the year). For example, the curriculum doesn’t actually require reading for several months yet, however, we have scheduled a daily reading time so he can stay in practice. On top of all that, we have decided to have some music time during our family worship times (though this is nothing new, as we have been doing this for a while now).
While the idea of committing to serious 5-day-a-week schooling (give or take) for 170 days seems a bit overwhelming and even nerve wracking at this point, I am eager to see how it goes. It’s days like this when I most enjoy being a homeschool mom, feeling the true blessing of the responsibility that God has given to me—to raise and instruct my children according to Biblical principles.