Monday, 31 March 2008

First Day of School

Today Colin and I started day one of homeschool! I was excited, nervous, unsure and hopeful all rolled up into one emotion bubbling in my stomach. The result of today's lesson was quite encouraging, and I think I just might venture into day two tomorrow!

Some of you might be wondering how on earth I start a two-year-old in school. It's not as crazy as it seems and not as time-consuming as it sounds. In then end, it became a necessity rather than a luxury. Our informal learning as been happening since Colin was born. He very naturally, and very quickly, picked up most of the things he should know to be ready for kindergarten. The question that came then was: what next?

Really, the program that I'm using is more about structure for me than him. To Colin, it will seem as though the day goes on as usual: we read, we sing, we play games, we colour, we learn about things around the house and in the world. The program allows me to make sure that his learning is consistent and varied, and does not neglect one area over another.

Each week has a theme (this week it is cows). Over the week, we read a different book about cows each day. We learn a song about cows. We learn a new word about cows ("calf"). We do gross motor (crawling around the house pretending to me cows, and mooing) and fine motor activities (pasting together a picture of a cow). Really, the theme is open ended, and we're encouraged to incorporate it in many different ways. Today Colin happened to ask for milk while we were learning, so we enjoyed a tall glass and watched a video online of a woman milking a cow, as we talked about how we get milk.

Each week we also learn (or review, in Colin's case) a letter, a number, a shape and a colour. There are various suggested activities to help reinforce different aspects of each of these areas.

Then I've added a scriptural component. Each week we'll read a bible story (that hopefully I can relate to the weekly theme. This week we're doing "Joseph's dream" - seven fat cows and seven skinny cows!)

We have a learning board which has a whole bunch of clear pockets on it, into which we put pictures of the things we learn during the week. I'll be sure to post a picture of it at the end of the week, so you can have a visual idea of what we're doing.

Colin seemed to really enjoy today's 'lesson'. It took less than 30 minutes, much of which was spent in our gross motor game (pretending to be cows). But after lunch, Colin came back and asked to read the cow book again, and to pretend to be cows again.

I'm also trying to more actively involve Colin in our home life, as a less formal type of homeschool. Today we swept the kitchen floor - Colin used the dustpan to sweep up my piles and then dispose of the dirt into the garbage, all on his own. (I had to resist sweeping up the last wayward crumbs, because I didn't want to undermine his work. He was so proud of it!) Tomorrow I plan to help create a day calendar with him, that includes a picture to represent an activity for each day of the week that makes it unique (ie: Sundays is church, Wednesdays is Playplace with his grandma, etc.).

This whole experience is a learning one for both Colin and I. I'm not sure how it will pan out, if the program will work for us, or even if homeschool will be a success. After a few weeks, I may abandon the lesson plans altogether. Either way, I'll at least have an idea on how to focus myself and Colin a little more and get much more out of our days.

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