October 5, 2011

homeschool update

We are now about a month in to homeschooling in earnest and I think, are pretty settled into our routine. In the beginning, I wanted to keep the kind of schedule that you might see in a regular classroom, with all, or at least most, subjects covered each day. But as with many things homeschooling, I've realized that I have to throw out some of my preconceived notions.
Because we really don't need to follow that kind of schedule. We do not have to be in the lunchroom at 12:03 or the music room at 2:15 with our bags and coats because after that it's time to get on the bus. The only real schedule item we have to stick to between the hours of 8 and 2:30 is picking Evelyn up from school. I've also found that we get more done working on one subject for a longer period of time, so after the first few days we slipped into more of a block schedule system. And it's working, at least for now. Homeschooling is nothing if not flexible, so if things need to change, they can.
Although math and science are Briton's favorite subjects (or perhaps because reading and writing are not his favorite subjects) I've really been focusing a lot of our time on Language Arts. Every day starts with a little free reading for him while I get things organized for the day. He is still heavily into graphic novels but is, miraculously, whipping through them like wildfire. He actually asked me to steer him home from the subway the other day so that he could read while he walked (reading and walking, by the way, is a family habit from my side - Auntie Amy, you know I'm talking to you ;)- but I never thought I'd see my "I hate to read" son carrying on the tradition. Yay!)

I don't feel like I can take credit for his new interest in reading, much as I'd like to. I think instead that it is a perfect storm of circumstance. A jump in his reading level + finding graphic novels + having more freedom to read what he wants + a little maturity and poof, I have a reader. Now I'm facing the issue of him reading late into the night. I LOVE that he is reading at night. I get it. I did it. I DO it. And I have a really hard time saying "Stop reading Briton" after so many years of practically begging him to read. But at some point I'm going to have to lay down the law and make him turn off the lights at a decent hour. Not yet, though. I don't have the heart.
On top of "free reading" we are reading the first Harry Potter and, as part of our history, are starting one of the "My Name is America" journals. We are reading this one since we just finished our studies of the Lanape Indians (the tribe that famously sold Manhattan for $24 - except, it turns out they didn't, but you'd have to read Briton's essay to find out what really happened) and are now discussing the early colonists.

Writing is another area where he seems to be blossoming, which, can I tell you, is so freaking exciting to his mama. We are still loving this book and this week I pulled out Writer's Express, which was a book I used when I taught fourth grade. Also awesome. Rip the Page has produced some really fun writing projects for us. I wish I had had it as a kid and a lot of the time we both do the writing prompts and then read them to each other. Ok, I'm a dork, I know. Cant help it :)

Will does a big math block with him once a week while I head off to the library for some writing time, but I also add a little math here and there through the day. Math is easy to work on when we are on the go, so our subway trips tend to include multiplication war, decimal to fraction games and math drills.

Science, is I'll admit, the hardest for me to teach, I'm mostly using the many classes available in the city to cover our science, which gets me off the hook and lets him have some social time.
And speaking of social time,
Wayfinders. Have you ever heard of it?
I hadn't either. It's a sort of giant capture the flag game played on teams with foam swords, theatrical dying when you are tagged and strategy sessions. Oh yes. 9 year old boy heaven. One afternoon a week of Wayfinders plus Wednesday soccer, plus Saturday soccer, plus the occasional Monday soccer keeps us social and active.

There are other things of course, French courtesy of Rosetta Stone, Art via the plethora of Museums - tomorrow we hit the Met - Manner and Etiquette, little bits of this and that fitted neatly into our week, at least most of the time.

I think the most surprising thing about homeschooling is that I'm not going crazy. I really thought I would. I hoped it wouldn't, but I feared that spending all day together would be a bad thing. Instead, it's the opposite. Instead, I have my partner in crime once again. Happy day.