I am glad to have decided to take this week B4 Christmas off instead of stressing about trying to fit everything in. I remember speaking to a teacher friend of mine (r.g.) last year as I struggled with both trying to "fit it all in" and "comparing" Jefferson's progress (to other hschoolers and to schoolers). He helped me to reassess what my true goals for teaching Jefferson should be. So as we start the 2nd half of the year after Christmas, these are what I will try to remember:
1. Relax! Take a week off when needed. Yes, I can do this. Do some fun (and educational if I can slip it in) things like field trips or play dates. Take time out to review what I'm are doing and look at things that aren't working. Figure out why those things aren't working and come up with a plan to adjust things to fit everyone's needs.
2. Be flexible. When I start up again, be flexible with my new plans or ideas. If something isn't working again/still don't force it. Don't expect perfection from Jefferson or myself. Don't let the 'schedule' rule over the lessons or Jefferson's abilities.
3. Don't use a band-aid fix for anything. Everything has an underlying reason. If I just ignore problems, they will just continue in different ways. Therefore, always communicate!
4. Enjoy my children. Have fun with them. Let them have fun learning. Watch them as they "get it" and their eyes get wide and the smile spreads across their face. Try to offer choices as often as possible so that they are motivated to learn.
5. Schedule family time. I often feel like I'm so focused on checking things off the lesson plan that we forget to plan family fun time. I notice that this affects the behavior of the little ones that aren't doing school with Jefferson and then that behavior affects my attitude which then also affects the family! Try picking an evening each week for a fun family activity.
6. Checking things off a lesson list should not be my focus. My goal is for Jefferson to comprehend what is being taught and for him to learn to deal with his own frustrations so that he can love to learn!
These may seem obvious to experienced homeschoolers, but are important lessons for we amateurs to learn so that we can give our kids a good foundation prior to the logic and rhetoric stages. I call them my soft, long term plans for homeschooling. But as far as Jefferson's comprehension and actual skill level for 1st grade goes, I have set up some more specific, short term goals for his classical education this year. For those of you interested, I have them listed below.
For those of you unfamiliar with a Classical Education, here is my personal short (and I mean, short - it's really so much more than this) summary -->
First Goal: train them to educate themselves
train them to get past frustration
Classical Education – Train the mind through the Trivium:
Grades 1-4: Absorption (grammar stage)
Grades 5-8: Critical Thinking (logic stage)
Grades 9-12: Expression (rhetoric stage)
Priority in Grammar stage->
Check these links for more information on classical education, the trivium, The Well-Trained Mind, Ten Things to Do with Your Child Before Age 10(this one is a great informative summary).