Today is our first day of homeschooling. It has turned out to be like our other Mondays. In the morning we went grocery shopping, bought some air dry clay from Joann’s, and went to the new Apple store since my computer is dying. In the afternoon, we had a play date, then our first swim team practice for Thumper.
The practice went well if not a little weird. No one was there to really greet us or give us an orientation. We just jumped right into swimming. Though Thumper has done really well in swimming classes, somehow it doesn’t seem to translate when she has to go back and use those yellow floaters. She’s having some difficulties swimming that way.
Sunday night, though I had not finished unpacking, I dumped all the “to sort” piles on the floor into a box, lined up two tables in the center of the room, and put the rest of the plastic bins alone our French door. The kids at least had a semblance of space to work.
My plan is to transition into home schooling. I’m going to have the children help me make materials the first two weeks, then both kids will go on vacation and spend a week with different grandmas, before coming back to start in earnest. I’ve already mentally started a list of “to-do’s” for that week.
Before I decided on homeschooling, I did a quick google and a blogger suggested to not do any schooling for about 6 months as a transition. It wasn’t my plan exactly but that’s what we ended up doing. Ours was more like 9 months since we first spent 3 months in Taiwan. This has turned out to be a really great transition.
The last six months, I adjusted to being a SAHM for the first time. First came an reorg of the house since we moved in five years ago. We actually bought furnitures for all the accumulated books and toys (3 tall bookshelves! imagine how many books I had in boxes), dresser, TV stand. Having storage was the first step in preparing the house for homeschooling.
We also gradually created a routine for ourselves. Through trial and error, I slowly realized how I wanted to structure our days and our curriculum. There is a weekly dinner menu which will be another post. This is important as Practical Life is actually part of the curriculum. We’re had a whole summer of swimming, enough for Thumper to qualify for the swim team. This will be one of her extracurriculars. That is one of my epiphanies: Don’t create a big master plan. Start with one or two things and slowly add. It works better to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
I’m still adding and tweaking to the final “master plan” daily, but right now, our schedule is as follows:
Monday – park day, errands and chore day
Tuesday-Thursday – homeschool AM
Friday– nature/field trip day
Our current extracurricular is swimming. Otherwise it’s free play for now. We will have school during public school holidays since every day kind of feels the same after awhile when you’re at home all day. I’m going to try to have one week off school every three months, Sept, December (2 weeks), March. It’s roughly equivalent to a regular school year.
The Montessori school I visited in Taiwan had a bi-monthly field trip and I really loved that idea. Just as we’re easing into homeschool, we’re also easing into Montessori. Though typically field trips are planned by children, I’m going to plan them in the beginning so they match the curriculum.
Back to the two week prep-week part. A professor suggested that Montessori teachers can get students to help out with making materials since this can be a learning experience as well. I’m a strong advocate of active learning (learning by doing) so I’m quite excited about this. Out first project is going to be making the Montessori grammar symbols out of air dry clay.
I had to set a hard school start deadline for a few reasons. I was afraid that I will be in cleaning and prep mode forever if I had no deadline to motivate me. Once I had that deadline, I came up with the idea for prep week. I also started feeling anxious since school is starting for everyone else. We have not been in “school” for 9 months already, I didn’t want the kids to fall behind. I know I secretly feel like I have something to prove; that my kids will not only catch up but surpass her old classmates despite almost a year not in school. It’s silly and probably makes no sense. Add to that, my mom telling me every time we talk on the phone that it’s not natural for the kids to not go to school. AND on top of it all, Mandarin immersion schools haven’t really figured out their curriculum, neither have Mandarin Montessori immersion schools. That’s an additional thing to prove, that somehow my decision to homeschool in Mandarin is NOT detrimental to the children.