Four months later, I do believe that I’m finally through the transition from public school to home school.
What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, it’s simple, in a way. After we starting homeschooling, I spent the first several weeks attempting to recreate a “normal” school day here at home, including a completely planned out day, hour by hour. I recorded dozens of “daily” grades during the course of a week and obsessed over having those grades to account for our progress.
In the same way that new parents coddle and overprotect their new baby in the first few weeks of life, buying the most expensive everything and trying to control every aspect of the day, I was being too controlling and trying to make everything too much like public school. In my attempts to make sure everything was perfect and that I was doing it “right”, I was starting to stress both of us out to the point that we were having trouble getting through lessons without arguing. Many times we would both end up in tears. That’s no fun at all, and it’s definitely no way to learn!
Thank the stars I got THAT out of my system!
This “semester” I’m definitely viewing things a bit more organically. We still have alternating days, but I don’t stress about keeping everything strictly by the numbers. I record a fraction of the grades that I did at first, and these are mostly just quizzes or tests. I still use the grades to have a record of how the year is going, but they aren’t the end all, be all of how I assess Hannah’s knowledge. Instead, I am relying on gauging her progress through her participation in discussions about the material when it comes to science and history. Language arts is coming along more free form as well, with Hannah working in her workbooks at her own pace and keeping a daily journal that she uses for free writing. For new topics like introducing new parts of speech, we have discussions and use many examples from her writing and reading.
For math, we’ve started using a lap-sized dry erase board for explanations and even oral quizzes/tests. I give occasional written tests in the various subjects and comprehensive quizzes and tests every week in each subject, especially math, on everything we’ve covered this year so far. Before, she really struggled with her operations, having issues working through the process of the more involved addition and subtraction problems. Now, she can do many three digit addition problems in her head as well as the normal vertical algorithm. We’re working on multiplication and division now!
Our morning routine has also morphed over the weeks from starting precisely at 8:00 am to spending time with Dante, our German Shepherd pup, after breakfast until about 8:30, then working through an aerobics video together until 9:15 after which we take a brief break and start school around 9:30. This way, we get our hearts pumping and Dante is a lot easier to handle and less of an interruption when we settle into lessons. We usually don’t go beyond 1:00 pm or so depending on how the morning went. We take a bit of a break and then head to the gym to workout at 3:30 and her swim team practice runs from 5:00 til 6:00.
It has taken a bit to break our old habits, but we are both much more relaxed and happier running things this way. When we took her out of school last October, I jumped in head first. We didn’t really spend any time “unschooling,” and our experiences last fall definitely reflect this. My advice for new homeschool parents coming from public school is not to be afraid to take time working through your transition to homeschooling. You and your student(s) will definitely have a much better time if you take that period to find your groove.