This week we reached our first milestone here at the McGaugh Academy: we have officially made it to, and through, Attendance Period/Learning Period #1! Our first five weeks were closed out on Wednesday, and we met with Mrs. G (our Education Specialist, i.e. River Springs liaison) on Thursday. We submitted our portfolio pieces and work samples to River Springs.

Five weeks in, I love the River Springs system. I love having the level of accountability they require: not too much, but not too little. I love Mrs. G, so encouraging and down to earth and knowledgable about Kindergarten. River Springs is such a great fit for us.

It has taken about five weeks to feel the benefit of our new home and learning routines. We had a really (thankfully) smooth week this week. We’ve been working out the blips, getting into our groove. This week sailed by, and we were able to include Eric so much more—which makes the learning more fun for Katie, too. I am adjusting as well… As much as I conducted preschool for Katie last year, we were not in the kind of predictable routine we’re in this year. With my personal changes also, such as adding exercise early in the morning, I truly have felt as though I am back at work. Taking care of children all day and keeping house and cooking healthy meals has always been work, so what I mean is that I have felt deeply the added pressure of more work on top of that. Let’s just say: I cannot remember the last time I watched an evening of TV, or even a single TV program, and personal time right now is a luxury. Maybe that will balance out later, but right now I doubt it! There’s too much to be done… In the past five weeks, I’ve seen a couple of movies and had a little crafting time… I do read here and there and write when I can. It’s like being back at an external job in many ways… Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love having my children with me in this way, and most of all, I love that THEY have this time TOGETHER in their earliest years.

I take Katie’s education as seriously as I did when I was in my classroom with my high school students and approach Katie’s schooling with the same kind of conviction. It’s been an adjustment to acclimate to this kind of work again and the high accountability (beyond the normal accountability I always have to myself, my husband, and my kiddos). The verdict? Homeschooling is far, far from easy…but it is doable.

Mrs. G told us, in fact, that just making it to the first attendance period means that we have already defied the homeschooling odds. She gave us a statistic (which I forget now) about how many families quit and disenroll within the first month. I have certainly had some days where I have understood that feeling. As a classroom teacher, though, I know that it often takes a full month (or more!) to start feeling like the year is rolling smoothly. Time and tenacity usually take care of the kinks.

So while we’re far from old hat at this homeschooling gig, we’re feeling optimistic and comfortable as we enter our 6th week. I’m sure there will be more bumps, just as there always are in a classroom. Nothing is smooth sailing all the time. We’re working it out.

Here’s a bit of what we did this week:

 

For history this week, we studied four different folk stories including the Gingerbread Man. We have two different versions of that story at home, so we re-read them and the kiddos started off Monday morning with a gingerbread man craft.

 

Eric loves doing whatever Katie does. What a great opportunity for him to learn along with her this year…

 

On another morning, Katie and I worked on several items in the hour before Eric woke up, and then he joined us and we all made freshly squeezed orange juice to have with breakfast. How often do we get to do that in school? A few times in these past five weeks I have thought about how much Eric and I would be missing Katie if she were going to a public school this year and how much we cherish making these memories together right now. Those are the thoughts that sustain us when homeschooling feels challenging. It is difficult, but the payoffs are beautiful.

 

As part of our history sequence, we re-read The Three Bears. Katie had several writing activities with that text, also, but I made an impromptu decision during my run that morning to add something more kinesthetic for both kiddos. Before they woke up, I set up the living room to be a stage with props for a Three Bears play.

This spontaneous activity (running is great for freeing up thoughts) was probably the highlight of our homeschool week. They loved it and rehearsed it more than once and then put the play on for Amie and Boppa last night for Amie’s birthday. Eric and I played the narrators: we introduced the bears, and Eric helped move them to their appropriate chairs in the beginning. He knew right away what we were doing, and he was able to replicate the story. What a great way for him to show what he knows and to reinforce the idea of “First, next, then” as well as sorting items by size.

 

Still in the introduction, Eric helps prepare the porridge. He also had Baby Bear sniff the porridge and helped hold Mother Bear when she decided it was “too hot.” Then he helped me carry all the bears off stage for their walk in the woods.

 

Katie played Goldilocks and came on stage while Eric and I stood off stage. She was great! She made up her own lines and went through the porridge-chairs-bed sequence really well!

 

Goldilocks tries out the chairs…

 

She falls asleep in Baby Bear’s bed. Eric and I then returned on stage and had the bears assess the scene. We found Goldilocks asleep and she woke up and ran out of the house as fast as she could go!

Great fun. Having this kind of flexibility makes homeschooling fun. There are so many ways to assess real knowledge and genuine learning…

The kiddos also had a busy week with all of their extracurriculars. Eric and I have a class on Monday mornings with Mrs. Russo (and Katie hangs out and learns with Amie). Eric’s class starts with several hands-on learning centers, then circle time (shapes, colors, alphabet), then exercise, then a craft (this week we studied dogs), then snack time, and then reading time and the closing song.

On Wednesday they both have gymnastics with Coach John and his fellow coaches at the CRC.

Katie has soccer practice on Wednesday nights (and games Saturday). Eric and I go hang out, watch Katie practice, and talk with other mothers and siblings.

They both have music class on Fridays with Miss Kara. We love our music class friends.

 

Here is a picture from gymnastics this week: Katie and Coach John are laughing together (Eric is behind Katie). He is so GREAT with the kiddos. I think of all the people who have been instructors in my children’s young lives. Mrs. Russo (whom Katie had also), Miss Kara, Coach John—all familiar teachers who have, in many cases, been with us consistently or off and on for YEARS at this point. Now Katie has her soccer coaches, as well, who are teaching her. In October, we have our first event with other homeschooling families and all the ES’s…and we can’t wait to meet them. In a way, we have cobbled together our own little school: we learn at home primarily, but we have relationships with so many other adults and children. We’re lucky, too, to live in a community with a strong homeschooling population and to live in a city that offers amazing community classes and programs for all ages. The McGaugh Academy is made by a team all over town.

I am excited for our next five weeks. We have some cozy lit coming up, and everything about autumn lends itself to fun teaching and crafting!

 

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