1. My personal education background kind of reflects a little of everything. Public school from K - 7 (five different schools represented), homeschooled 8 - 12 (one program represented), and then I taught in Catholic schools (three different schools in two states) for seven years. Bryan experienced the "joys" of public school the whole way and was rather anti-homeschool when we got married. I used to try and argue in favor of homeschooling as an option (not necessarily one we'd chose, but just a viable option). I should have saved my breath. The longer Bryan's been in the Army, the more open-minded he's become towards homeschooling for a variety of reason that I won't get into here. He's evolved with minimal effort on my part. And now we're on the same page: local schooling options stink and homeschooling is our best bet at this stage in our lives. We'll probably reconsider every time our family grows and every time we move, but for right now, homeschooling is the direction we're taking.
2. This makes me happy. Openness to homeschooling means I have been able to question my more experienced friends at length and do oodles of research. I even compiled a spreadsheet comparing/contrasting what the major Catholic "all in one" programs offer for kindergarten. I love to research. Making decisions for my own kids is a different matter entirely, but the research process has been enjoyable.
3. But, you know what? I think I made some decisions! At any rate, I finalized my favorites and formulated an action plan last night and haven't yet changed my mind. Amazing! A miracle really, given how hard it is for me to commit to something. :-)
4. Cora and Mac turn 4 in July. I've studied Texas preschool standards and kindergarten standards at length. From this and from careful observation, I know that my kids have above average little minds in above average sized bodies with average attention spans. We're basically going to do kindergarten level work but at a pace the kids will set for themselves.
- Reading - We're going to tackle "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". I don't plan on finishing the book, though if we do, great. All three of us (the kids and I) will work on these lessons together at the same time.
- Math - We'll do Singapore Essental Math for Kindergarteners and use manipulatives too. I'll probably start all three of us together but move to one on one work as the kids need it. And, given their personality differences, I imagine we will be moving to one on one sooner rather than later.
- Handwriting - We'll do Handwriting without Tears, Kinder level, with manipulatives. This will have to be taught one on one. Cora has excellent fine motor skills and is already a decent right-hand writer. Mac is ambidextrous and has only recently developed a pencil grip. With both hands, no less! This program is highly recommended for teaching lefties (or even ambidextrous kids) which is why I've had it bookmarked for quite some time.
- Religion - I'm not buying a specific program for this next year. My hope is that we can all live life more aware of the liturgical year and celebrate feast days, read Saint and Bible stories, and attend a daily Mass once a week.
- Science - I'm not buying anything specific. I'll probably continue to take advantage of PBSkids and Disney Jr. ;-) Currently the kids love Octonauts and so we often will pull up images via google of the animals. And re-enact Octonaut scenarios over and over...
- Extras - I grew up listening to Wee Sing tapes. Wee Sing America, Wee Sing Bible songs, etc. I can still sing the 50 States in alphabetical order thanks to those tapes (and I'm sure my siblings can too!). Imagine my surprise when I discovered that these tapes still exist! Granted, they're now cds or mp3s, but they do exist! The plan is to purchase these cds and load them into the van's music library. I won't force the music on the kids, but I'm sure the songs will work their way into our regular repertoire.
- Technology extras - Thanks to facebook, I was able to download Hooked on Phonics for FREE the other day (normally $50). So far, we are enjoying this "new game". I'm also debating whether or not to sign up for abcmouse.com. Any thoughts on that? Is it compatible with ipads?
5. I really want to set a gentle school pace. I want to only start one subject at a time to ease into a slightly more formatted school set up at home (contrasted to our one day a week preschool coop), though I haven't decided when we'll start. There is no clear end date in mind. When they're ready for more, we'll move on. If one child is ready faster, I'll be okay with one moving ahead of the other. Right now, I'm leaning towards starting math first and then adding in handwriting. We might even start both in the summer. We'll participate in the local library's summer reading program again, so I won't add in our reading lessons until late August or September.
6. One example of how tv affects my kids: Mac ran up to me the other day with a broken fireman. Poor man's legs had fallen off. "Momma! My fireman has leg'tachanosis!!!!" I can thank Doc McStuffins for that lovely tidbit. Fortunately, the fireman was salvageable.
7. On a completely unrelated note, I learned a valuable lesson in cooking the other day. I made chicken alfredo from scratch for the first time. Fantastic! And an excellent use for leftover roast chicken. However, I made enough to eat the leftovers later in the week. Eww. Your PSA of the day: fresh alfredo sauce does NOT reheat well.
And that is all for now. Have a wonderful weekend!
PS. There are many of you who have children making their First Communion this weekend. I will pray that their joy bubbles over to all surrounding!
PPS. Sunday is also Mother's Day. I pray for all mothers, all mothers to be, and all mothers in waiting. Waiting is hard. Perhaps the hardest cross many will have to bear. You all are in my prayers.