Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Day One

* Written on Monday, August 3, 2015

I have been preparing for months for this day. Really, the entire past year has been leading up to this day. The momentous start of kindergarten, Aiden's difficulty adjusting, the sounds and smells of the lunchroom, the crying, the teasing, the patronizing staff, the school social worker. All of this followed by moving schools, shorter days, rebuilding confidence, doing extra work at home, research, school tours, and prayer. I am reminded of one of my favorite bible verses:

"While from behind a voice shall sound in your ear, 'This is the way, walk in it.'"  -Isaiah 30:10

I didn't choose homeschooling, it choose me, as hokey as that may sound. I never thought about homeschooling one way or another, until I had to find another way for my son. I didn't really want to homeschool, but it kept coming back, nudging me. As we struggled to find the best place for our son for this school year I prayed for guidance. But I had already been told what to do.

So here we are, day one. The previous months have been spent researching curriculum, buying books, meeting other homeschooling parents and picking their brains (God bless their patience) and jotting lesson plans in a notebook. The previous weeks have been spent turning the loft playroom into a classroom, although half of it remains filled with toys, coloring books, and busy boxes for Elliott. My husband went to Ikea with me on a Saturday without batting an eye. He put together the bookshelf we picked out and he spent the weekend helping me move baby toys to the basement and our chalkboard/dry erase easel upstairs. He has been on the fence about homeschooling. Like me, he never had exposure to it and just took for granted that our kids would go to a traditional Catholic school like their parents did. Despite his misgivings, he has agreed to give it a shot. He is supporting me and for this I am grateful, because aside from lots of coffee I need support on this venture.

Aiden does not begin class at his homeschool school until August 31, at which time he will attend eight hours a week. For now, we are getting acclimated to our classroom and working on math, reading, writing, and spelling. The first day at Mom's School of Hard Knox was a success. It was also my first time teaching math. Saying that math is not my strong suit would be an understatement. I remember learning about Heaven and hell in Catholic school. I pictured hell as being chained to a school desk having to complete long division worksheets for all of eternity. Now my version of hell would have more to do with never ending piles of laundry and an absence of coffee, chocolate, and beer, but I digress. Ever since I purchased the Alpha version of Math U See from Sonlight, I have been teaching myself to teach. Fortunately, this curriculum comes with a student book and a corresponding teacher's manual, complete with numbered week by week lessons. Today I introduced the concept of places - hundreds, tens, and units - a concept that I had all but forgotten having learned it twenty some years ago.

I learned a little about teaching math and a lot about how my "student" learns. He is very eager to learn and catches on quickly, but he is also a perfectionist and does not want to try if he thinks he'll get the answer wrong. I assured him that I would never be upset about a wrong answer, but only if he didn't try. We would have no need for school if we were born knowing everything. I also reminded him that I would be learning with him to a certain extent, after all I am not a teacher by trade. I have the utmost respect for those who are; I admire anyone with the stamina and knowledge to lesson plan and teach a whole classroom full of different learning styles and behaviors. Aiden picked up the concepts quickly and we had time for our math game - building hundreds, tens, and units houses. First we had to color and cut out the number cards. Elliott was scribbling away right there with us, sans pants since we are potty training. More on that later, but hey, where else can students come to class without pants? Don't answer that.

After math, Aiden was eager to play more math games on his leap pad. We had lunch and did writing - Aiden's least favorite. He balked a little at the writing, but with a little encouragement we were able to review the proper way to hold a pencil and form letters from top to bottom and left to right. Yeah, I am pretty sure I have been gripping the pencil and forming letters incorrectly my whole life. See, you can teach an old mom new tricks.

We ended the day with a prayer and the best and worst parts of our day. Predictably, Aiden liked numbers the best and writing the worst. In this way he is definitely more like his father, but hey, it might be best not to have more than one writer in the same family. We can be kind of quirky. Except for Jan of course. Wink wink.

Day one is complete, and truth be told it went better than I expected. Now, don't worry, I know my year of homeschooling won't be all rainbow shitting unicorns. I am a realist. I know that we will have battles and tears and chocolate eating and days where we don't get shit done. After all, it's me we're talking about. But I also know if I am prepared for these things we can get through them. I know it will be incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. Kind of like parenting, huh? Elliott also filled his potty chart today so all in all I'd say it was a win.

Not all days are like this one; in fact it seems like too many are not. So this post really isn't about homeschooling. This post is not meant to be in any way boastful or persuasive. I have documented the days where everything seems to go wrong, and I have to keep track of a day that just worked. After all, I want to have it in writing to prove to myself it actually happened. You know, some say the unicorn is more than just a mythical creature...

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