Preparation is Essential in Single-Parent Homeschooling. Reflections, Paul’s Pre-K, Weeks 10 & 11

It has become apparent to me that to be successful trying to homeschool Paul around my full-time job, I need to plan ahead. I have a boxed curriculum and a parent guide, but those things only get me so far. … Continue reading

Beginning With Hola

Previously, I blogged about wanting to practice a school-like routine before beginning our actual school work. My motivation was based on wanting to ease my sometimes-strong-willed child gently into the schooling to avoid complete resistance; Elizabeth does love learning, but needs to be pushed in a way that is gently encouraging yet firm at the same time in order to move ahead. So we’ve been workbooking, and she seems to like it.

In addition to the work time we are doing, there are other routine changes that directly and indirectly effect her that I am allowing her time to get accustomed to. First off, we are adjusting her napping routine by dropping napping some days of the week so that she sleeps well during the night. The workbook time coincides with pushing the regularly routined television time back by one hour, soon to be two by or when our homeschooling starts.

So, for a little more than a week now we have been dedicated each weekday morning to the workbooks and it seems to be going well. I have contemplated over and over just starting the regular curriculum because she seems interested and I’m pretty excited myself, but for a number of reasons which seems too lengthy to list here, I am wanting to wait just a little bit longer. But it really comes down to not wanting to have to stop once we start – which is a bad habit to start right at the beginning.

HOLA

But then yesterday, Elizabeth and Paul were playing phones in the afternoon, making pretend long-distance calls to their grandmother in Honduras, and beyond saying, “Hola, Abuela,” she spoke only gibberish, and as badly as I feel it reflects on me, it made me realize that she must not know how to speak at all. So I made the decision then to begin the Spanish lessons.

Elizabeth was up for it, so we got out her doggies, as the ‘you all’ form will need a bigger audience than one child to learn, and we started with very basic, “Hola, mamá,” and some flash cards.

PERRO

Today, after a coloring activity, we did it again, but in reviewing, she got bored and decided that it would be more interesting to play cars. I did encourage her back, but as it touched on the same content again, she wasn’t very into it. Note to self: follow her lead on speed, especially as she is not starting from scratch.

One interesting thing that happened throughout yesterday and today was that she was very clingy and quite obedient. Her nature is to be sweet but not very touchy-feely, and though she is generally very well behaved, since April when we had a stressful event happen that indirectly effected her, she has been quite difficult for me and with her brother. So this was a surprise. It has made me wonder, since I bought the curriculum at the same time, if her problem actually was that she thought that I was keeping it from her (because technically I was as I didn’t want to read all the books before hand, nor get everything disorganized), and didn’t know how to express her frustration at that, rather than it being lingering angst about what had happened.

EL AMIGO

Share your thoughts: How do you prepare for starting school up again? Do you begin piecemeal by only introducing a few subjects at a time?

Practice For The Both Of Us

For the past couple of weeks, every day, Elizabeth has asked me if we are going to begin our school that day. I have finally finished reading through all of the curriculum, and have made a 4-week plan. I even, on a whim, found a Spanish/English book that I need for the first unit and borrowed it from the library yesterday. I guess we are ready to start.

But, I think we need a little practice first.

One issue hangs over me before we begin: the tv time issue. For the past 2 years, 9am has been the earliest that Elizabeth has been allowed to watch tv, and has kind of been slotted as the ‘tv time.’ But for the toddler brother, 9am is also the time in which he is well rested and freshly breakfasted and least likely to bother us while we are doing our school work together. I am wanting to push the hour in which she watches tv back and do our school work then, but I expect resistance to the idea, or more so, to the actual application.

Opposite the fear of Elizabeth resisting me pushing the tv time back, I firmly believe in choosing life over passively watching television, and find it hard to accept working school in around tv, rather than the other way around.  But I also know that my attitude toward television is a learned behavior, and one that took years of self-discipline, one that a 4-year old would not have honed yet. I want, though, to make the transition as smooth as possible into a daily routine of working together on the school books and activities. I want to make it not seem like a punishment that her tv time is pushed back but a positive thing instead.

So this week I’ve been experimenting, we’ve been practicing.

Prior to our first day of practice, I explained to Elizabeth how I wanted to do our school in the mornings and how I felt it would be easiest in the 9am time slot for all three of us. Then, I asked her if she agreed to push tv time back for one hour for now and work on workbooks together during that time. This of course is taking a risk, because there’s always the possibility that she would say no to that idea, but with my daughter, I know that having her forewarned and agreeing works much better than just popping it on her, which usually ends with a tantrum, or a seriously long and drawn out resistance to whatever I am trying to do.

She agreed to my plan. Now, for the past few days, at about 9, or whenever we all finish our breakfasts, she and I have been working on a workbook of her choice (a vehicle sticker book, though I had envisioned a letter workbook).

And I’m glad I did! Sitting for even a half an hour is going to take some getting used to! For the both of us!

I myself am used to using that time block for a myriad of things – slowly drinking my coffee and reading WordPress updates, washing dishes, showering, etc. Now I’ve got to stop and put on the patience brake . 🙂 And turn on the concentration headlights. Oh boy! In no way do I want to discount any one who really has ADD/ADHD, but the mommy/nursing induced lapse in concentration makes making myself sit still in a usually busy hour a bit of a challenge. Not to mention the distracting toddler who insists on having his own chair, then paper and crayons, then stickers, then getting up and down and up and down (and he is very clumsy and falls down a lot). It’s at least giving the guy some experience with using those little writing muscles!

So, we’ve hit half an hour so far – only one more to go to reach what I estimate a typical school day will take… Oh my!  But Elizabeth loves books and is very interested in learning, and Moving Beyond The Page makes it seem like the kids are doing games rather than work, so I’m not too concerned that it will be too bad. As well, the flow of their program is a lot like our natural flow, except with project tools, so I think it will be really great. At this time, I am planning to start our school on either August 4, or August 11, after the ‘Bring Your Own Squirt Gun Party’ we are hosting for some of Elizabeth’s friends. I figure that there’s no reason to stress myself out with double the extra work between cleaning and prep for the party, and school. And I’m really glad I’m taking the time to establish a routine now so that the transition can be a little smoother.

Do you do any prep activities to get yourself or your kids out of the summer routine and back into school? Do you have any thoughts for me on the tv time issue?