My first two weeks as a parent/teacher went off without a bang. I did not have all my curricula in place for the first few days, so we improvised with some material I had left over from the summer. Oh, yes, my kids do study over the summer. It’s mainly review, stuff that should be easy for them, but something to just keep their minds churning. My eldest has horrible handwriting, something not even addressed by his teachers at school, so we are working on that using handwriting practice sheets downloaded for free off the Internet. We had our math books, and my middle son, Shane (first grade,) likes his so well he completed 38 pages by the end of the week. In fact, we did get into a big power struggle because he wanted to do the math, and not do the writing work from his other workbook.
Note: you can find workbooks everywhere you look, but really take a look inside, as their efficacy differs greatly. I have found that involving the child in choosing the workbooks leads to an easier time later.
Now that the first week is finished, I am thrilled to report that it was, by any measure, successful. Not that every parent can expect to glide into home schooling gracefully, because a good deal depends on the reason for keeping your child home. I can only speak from my experience. And in the interest of full disclosure, I admit writing this somewhat conflicted, because if it were up to me, my kids would know, well, just about everything by now. But, keeping my enthusiasm and over-achievement-demons at bay, I planned reasonable lessons, according to the books, and I am happy that we got all that work done, even if my son wrote his book report on Saturday instead of earlier in the week.
EVERYTHING BECOMES A TEACHING OPPORTUNITY
The most important revelation for me so far is the actual translation of this phrase. It doesn’t simply mean that I will use dinnertime to teach my kids table manners; it means that when we sit down at the table, I can use that time to review the Latin we learned, together, that morning. If my kids were learning Latin in school, or even French (a language I speak,) dinnertime would hardly be the place to bring it up. Sure, okay, maybe as a novelty, but not as a matter of course. The idea that I am responsible, hand in hand, to teach my children has made me aware of how many opportunities I have during the day to get the lessons into their brains. We are learning some memorization songs, so we work on them in the car, going to the store. Braeden can sing, in order, all the US presidents. People wonder at that, but I explain, “He’s got nothing else sloshing around up there! Of course it’s easy for him to memorize – might as well fill his head with something useful!”
The other thing that the above phrase means, which is even more surreptitious, is that since I am the teacher, my kids look to me for instruction and explanation all the time. Being in charge of schooling boils down to me being the person in the know. They are not waiting to ask the teacher something the next day, which they undoubtedly will forget. I’m right there in front of them. If there is something they want to know, we’ll go look it up right away (assuming I don’t have a ready answer.)
Now that we have committed, the children as well as the parents, to the home school experiment, I can already sense a more cohesive, more educational environment everywhere I go with my kids. And (so far) that is an amazing, rewarding thing.