Thursday, March 03, 2016

Weekly Check-In, February Week 4

This is my first attempt at a weekly record. It was also our first week using a new schedule for the kids to help them self-direct (their request).

We created rough schedules together one-on-one, keeping them open to the timing of individual days by just creating lists of things to have done by the end of the day. Tristan and Kassi both have days of the week with focus on certain subjects they're studying.  For example, Tristan created room for a Chemistry day. We included the kids' chores and music practice as reminders for them. All of this was the result of a family meeting from the week before where the kids unanimously decided that they want to more clearly understand the expectations for each day.

The schedules have required some tweaking through this first week, but people kept to them for the most part.  Because this is my first record, I will detail what we put on the schedules for now. I hope my weekly records can be more specific to the week in the future.

Tristan (13, 8th Grade) is using a Spectrum Language Arts book as a mild test-prep in LA– he is preparing to take the CHSPE.  We also have been looking through this CHSPE guide together. He is using Teaching Textbooks (Pre-Algebra), Life of Fred, and Khan Academy every day. On Mondays he focuses on his study of Government and Civics with Crash Course. On Tuesdays he moves forward in his Thames and Kosmos Chemistry set. Throughout the week he keeps a blog, practices writing with copy work I make for him on request, and consumes massive amounts of audio literature including The Story of the World Volume 3. He also wants to spend more time with the piano and to that end added piano time to his schedule each day. Next week is his first with his new piano teacher. This week we spent some time looking at the Berkeley City College course catalog. Tristan has foil fencing classes 4 days a week.

Kassi (11, 5th Grade) is renewing her use of Oak Meadow Grade 5 on her own terms. She's skipping a lot of 'doing' and crafts because this has always felt so contrived to her. She does a lot of making during the week on her own. She is reading the history, the English lessons, the Science, and the enrichment books. She's even opting to do the vocabulary work and spelling quiz. She is also using Happy Scribe copy work to practice her cursive. For math, like, Tristan, she is employing Teaching Textbooks (4th Grade), Life of Fred, and Khan Academy. She is a beginning violinist and aims to spend time each day with her instrument. Inspired by Tristan, she has started daily entries in a journal. Kassi has started to work part time as a mother's helper and is learning to balance those hours with her schedule. Kassi also fences 4 days a week.

Anatoly (9, 3rd Grade) seems to really thrive with his new schedule. He is using Teaching Textbooks (3)–but on paper. He seems to enjoy the paper lessons more and it is good reading time for him anyway. He is also using Life of Fred and Khan Academy. All of this adds up to a lot more reading than he was doing with just Teaching Textbooks discs, which read aloud the lectures and problems. It also means he is putting in practice writing numbers and problems out. Other than maths, Toly follows along with Tristan's Chemistry. He consumes ridiculous volumes of Crash Course, Gross Science, Brain Pop, Mental Floss, (see sidebar for links) and more in his spare time, making him the person to ask questions of if Wikipedia is down. He is also using Happy Scribe copy work. Because he loves the ukulele, he scheduled time each day for it. Toly is a beginning foil fencer and has two classes a week.

Romneya (7, 1st Grade) spends most of his time playing, drawing, and building. We didn't skip him in schedule-making, though. He has a short list of expectations so that he can feel 'finished' with these each day and know he has done what he set out to do. He spends time with the iPad on Khan Academy and Montessorium apps. Then he sits with someone (usually Tristan) and reads Life of Fred. He practices writing letters each day. Rome has been enjoying the Check Out Science kits from the library, and we aim to complete one a week. We spend time reading together every day. He is also making a comic.

I try to remember that all we do is part of our school week. We are renovating our kitchen and Karl tries include Toly in particular, as he has a strong interest in plumbing, wiring, and demolition. When we need the kids to be occupied they have been watching–and really enjoying– Good Eats, Animal Homes, and other 'educational' shows on Netflix. We attend a weekly park day with other homeschool families, something I look forward to each week. We keep a flock of chickens that the kids are really involved with. Our kitchen work has left our garden unkempt but we hope to plant a spring garden soon. We read aloud (Little House right now) often. We're also biking more often- this week to the library- something the kids want to make a regular thing.

The major success of this year is no doubt the big kids' use of public transit and bikes–on their own. This is something I knew we needed to do for a long time but didn't feel ready for. Now they are learning to get to and from places they need to be. Comfort with this will be critical as they go to city college, get jobs, and want to visit friends. But it has been so hard to let go and let this happen.

The biggest struggle for us has been making it all work together. It is just harder with a two year old. I can't always transfer her from house to car to carrier without tears. I don't get a lot of sleep. The best thing about homeschooling is the ability to adjust and change pace all of the time. That's why even though we created rough schedules I am not invested in keeping to them. They serve us, not the other way around. One week in and I feel like they might make things easier for everyone.

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