Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ramping up for 8th grade.

It's August 4th. Homeschool officially starts on August 30th so it is with a smug bit of feeling accomplished that I note my well-laid plans. No worries. Not too tidy. But enough to feel like once we are out of the gates, I have an idea at least how our days should look.

I am still new at this homeschool bit but after detoxing and finding our way for the last few months of last year, I feel like I am ready to go at it with a little more structure and accountability. A good part of my planning was spent focusing on my goals for SJ this year. I have to keep in mind that we are taking this one year at a time, so I might well be preparing him for the rigors of high school next year. That would include not only academics but time management and self-discipline as well.
  • I am not an authoritarian style teacher but I do need to remember who holds the key to our schedule and be a little more insistent (to both of us) that school needs to start at a certain time each day--we should be showered, dressed, fed, and ready to go. 
  • Given the scope and subject range we want to cover, I need to make it clear to SJ that he can expect four hours of work each day. I won't keep a school bell nearby, but without the expectation, my son tends to cut it short (what kid wouldn't?), stopping shy of doing his best work. I don't want him "just gettin' it done." I want him to stretch his own character and integrity by working beyond what he believes he is capable. At least sometimes.
  • We are going to try something different with our Handler (Educational Specialist) this year. In the past, we have met for a quick hand-off of lesson plans and work. SJ pops in to say hello. Noting that I tend to fall short on follow through and accountability for assignments, I am going to ask her to be the Fall Guy and SJ to have the onus of proving that he has learned what he tells me he has. If I have him memorize something, he will need to say it to her. If he writes a paper, he will need to present her with the final draft. I think it will take away the opportunity to scam the softy (that would be me). She will also be responsible for teaching and assigning his writing, although we will work together on choosing topics.
  • Screen time must be curbed. Let's face it, our family likes our evening TV shows (good ones, of course, on Discovery, History, and Versus). Still, this particular child warms to the click of the remote no matter what time of day...even when he knows he shouldn't. Far too much spacing out for him. I don't love imposing jail-like controls in my home, but I am consid, ering blocking channels during daytime hours. I think our service will allow it.
  • My days need to be devoted to school first. I tend to be a morning person so my struggle is with wanting to do everything within a few hour window before noon. That includes my exercise, daily devotion, writing, homeschool, bible study, housework and work for our business, not to mention errands and coffee dates.. It's not possible and I will be making an effort to move parts of my day to the afternoon. I have to remember that homeschooling is a bit of a sacrifice and this may come at the expense of downtime, social time, or nap time (seriously). Can I do that for at least a year?
In all, I am getting excited to begin. I am anxious to get my hands on the books we've chosen as I believe there will be a nice blend of options to intrigue his learning style. He is especially excited about working through a Legos Robotics curriculum and learning how to design a video game.

Aside from the time I will be spending on SJ's education, I will have my hands full helping my high school junior navigate through a pretty tough schedule. We've asked him to step up his level of academics and he is already stressed. He has always been bright and we know he is capable. Somewhere along the way, his bar got lowered and he lost the confidence (or the desire) to work a little harder and be a bit more disciplined.

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