Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paperwork Done!

I suppose I am truly getting back into the swing of homeschooling. All summer I have been avoiding the thought of September and returning to the grind. I recently did all my book ordering, and as things arrived in the mail found myself getting excited (against my will!) at the thought of a new school year beginning. Today being the first day in a while I have had "nothing" to do, I sat down this afternoon and wrote my IHIPs for Rachel, Julia and Ben (!--the very first report I have had to write for Ben....) By the way, if you don't know, an IHIP is an Individualized Home Instruction Plan, and all it boils down to is a list of texts used for each subject.

Now all I have to do is plan some lessons! This year I am handing the math and science reins over to Matt in Rachel's case. I was finding that I didn't have enough time what with the other kids' schoolwork, plus all our activities and house stuff to do these subjects justice at Rachel's level. It's one thing to explain something like addition or multiplication when you're doing ten other things simultaneously, and quite another to explain concepts you have little or no memory of ever having learned yourself! So Matt will for the first time be a teacher of academic subjects in our family. He and Rachel will do biology and algebra together in the evenings while I remain blissfully ignorant of the whole thing.

I have decided to change my lesson planning to a weekly plan. In the past I have meticulously planned each day's work. So the girls literally opened their planners and Monday might say read chapter 7 in science, pages 200-235 in history and write essay #4, pages 113-116 in math, etc. etc. However, that got tough last year when I had 3 lesson plans to do--and Ben was only doing kindergarten level work. So I thought about it and decided it would be far easier to have a master lesson plan book, with everyone's work in the same place, and to have a plan so that the girls can decide how they want to do their work each week.

For instance, Rachel may decide to do every subject daily. Julia might prefer to do all her math in one day, all her history on another day, all her language arts work another day, etc. I will decide what Ben does since he still needs too much direction. Anyway, this will give them some control over the way they work, which they always enjoy, and it will make planning easier for me because I can simply write a bulk of pages in a given subject rather than thinking about each day. I also won't need to think as hard about outside activities, because if we're busy one afternoon, they can just do the work another time and not worry about being behind.

And yes, before you think it, I know this could lead to getting really very behind--in a certain type of family. However, I have already thought about that and have decided that giving them some autonomy when it doesn't really matter will be a better lesson. They will learn very quickly what happens if their work doesn't get done--because they will not be allowed to use the computer, talk on the phone, watch tv or go outside to play before some amount of schoolwork is shown to me. Because we have fairly strict homeschooling laws in NY, I am very careful that I don't slack off--to the extent that we go in the opposite direction. Because my kids have always had this standard, I don't worry that they will see this new plan as a way to avoid their work.

However, I do have to say that although I'm getting excited about new books, lessons, and school supplies--I will miss summer dreadfully! Lazy mornings, swimming, playing outside, casual meals whenever we feel like it, late bedtimes. Going back to the old routine is just always a drag, no matter how much your kids like school. We only have 10 days left of summer vacation, and I plan to wring every bit of fun out of them!


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