Monday, August 31, 2009

First Day of School

We school year round but we ease WAY up in the summer and in December.
So we officially kick off our school year every fall.
We choose when to do that.
This year, we chose today.
This past week, we had a family meeting and decided all the things we'd like to study this year.
The kids were in charge of food for the meeting--we had mini pizzas and 2 kinds of M&Ms.

Happy 1st day of school!
School barefoot. Love it.

Our "4th grader"
(Some people get really hung up on grades/levels, so we sort of play along) :P

Our "1st grader"
He is SO excited to be in 1st grade.

A sneak peek at our studies this morning

1st and 4th grade pictures to celebrate the first day
(Please notice awesome schedules behind them).

On tap for this year -- besides the usual math and spelling daily stuff, we're focusing on monthly topics as a way to approach our other subjects:

September -- Making posters and reading in preparation for the National Book Festival in DC
October -- Portuguese
November -- NaNoWriMo, so lots of fun writing and illustrating
December -- Portuguese
January -- Science for 2 weeks and then History for 6 weeks
February -- History continued with a week dedicated to Art History
March -- Grammar (YAY!)
April -- History
May -- Grammar

Daily Schedule
Every day, we get up and exercise.
Everyone gets ready and has breakfast and practices instruments, typing tutor, etc.
We meet in our home library for a spiritual thought.
Then spelling/handwriting.
The kids have requested learning about music daily so every day we tackle a different genre or band or whatever strikes our fancy.
(We went to our alphabetized CDs today and started with the very first one -- ABBA. While listening to the CD, we learned about disco, saw some disco balls and disco moves online, read about ABBA, and found Sweden on the map.)
This is when tackle our monthly subject. Sometimes we meet at home, sometimes outside, sometimes an ice cream shop, sometimes the library, whatever suits our fancy. Today, we made a list of all the authors we want to meet in DC next month and tomorrow we start making posters and reading more of their books and collecting them for signatures.
Today, we also did some fun 1st day of school drawings and handwriting exercises.
And we also have an "About Me" book project. And we also ate a snack.
Cooking/Lunchtime as a family
Daily Math with Daddy
Varying kinds of reading time and quiet time as a family and individually -- we are reading A LOT of cool books together
1/2 hour each -- Computer and TiVo (PBS)
Cooking/Dinner (the kids are interested in learning to cook, so we incorporate it into our meals

The kids also do lapbooks on anything that interests them.

Our evenings are generally free except for music lessons and occasional groups and activities through our homeschool group. We had a planning meeting here at our house this past week as well -- we had a dozen parents in attendance (many couldn't make it) and here is just a taste of what we're doing with our group:

We meet every Friday.
The first 3 Fridays of every month, we meet for various monthly classes at the library in the morning (we also have 2-3 field trip weeks/month on the other weeks).
And then lunch together.
Then gym (lead by teacher)/pool time for 2 hours in the afternoon at the YMCA as a big, huge group.

Classes this year include:
(We have rooms for 3 different age groups from babies to teens--often we meet together and sometimes we don't--depends on what we're doing)
September - Park Days
(Soccer, Capture the Flag, Kickball, Track and Field events, Olympics, Annual Picnic)
October and November -- Mock Trial Class
December -- Holiday crafts and activities and studies (cultural, religious) and party!
January --Games Club
February -- Dissection (Frog, Worm, etc.)
March -- Cultural Studies (Geography Bee, various Lectures/Presentations on countries throughout the month, International Fair where every child presents on a country and we celebrate with food and posters and exhibits
April -- Fine Arts Month (Poetry Slam, Music week, and Art Gallery for kids to share their work--anything they want!)
May -- Science Fair (Intro to Scientific Method and then research/group time for individual and group projects--kids can do both and then an actual Science Fair)

Field Trips are geared to both older and younger kids and include:
Refuse Authority and Water Treatment Facility (a big favorite a couple of years ago so we're repeating it this year)
Touring a school, meeting a bee keeper, a fire station, and the actual chocolate factory (not the ride)
Science Center and museum and local attractions in Amish Country
Apple orchard, hayride, wienie roast, cider, campfire, etc.
Actual courtroom trial
Farm Show
Rescue Mission and V.A. Medical Center
Night Field Trip to a radio station
Hospital Dietary Center
Visiting and learning about the workings of a restaurant (Thing 1 is especially excited about this one!)
K-9 Emergency Unit
Wheatland--home of President James Buchanan
Amish Farm
And several TBA!

We also have parents nights out for just hanging out or going to the movies and we also host intellectual outings and lectures for the adults. We also have a book club and writers' group.

We have our traditional kick-off picnic in September, Earth Day celebration in April, and Olympics Day in June.

We're also offering these Extra Curricular Groups (Non-Fridays):

ART CLASSES - The kids are getting Art classes 1-2 times monthly taught by an art teacher in the community on Mondays.

NEWBERY AWARD BOOK CLUB -- one night monthly from 6:30-9, Newbery Award Winning Novels, writing, activities, food,

NEWSPAPER CLUB -- the kids are WAY excited about this one, this one is run by kids (with an adult facilitator) and they will organize themselves into a newspaper club and have an editor and also print a monthly newspaper for themselves and the library is also distributing it--it'll have book and movie reviews, field trip recaps, and more!

OPEN MIC NIGHT - an opportunity for kids to share music, poems, reports, and the like


Also, there are kids interested in: Making a movie (writing, filming, editing)

We also have a great fund raising opportunity at our local Lazer Tag place. Generally, 15 minutes of play time costs $8/person. However, on fund raising nights, we can reserve the place for ourselves and we can pre-sell tickets for $10 each for 3 hours of unlimited play time. We then get $5 back for every ticket sold. We can use the proceeds to do a fun outing or defray other costs for our group or as a fundraiser for the library, etc. And bonus, fun night for us!

We're also organizing a directory of families in our group and printing membership cards (we get discounts all over the place -- Michael's, Waldenbooks, Barnes and Noble, etc. for homeschooling).

We're putting together yearly yearbooks.

There is also talk of another overnight trip, but instead of DC, this time to Boston. And perhaps the beach. And there is also talk of doing another overnight camping trip (they did one a couple of weeks ago) to the PA Grand Canyon next August again.

There are also service projects and various volunteering opportunities in the community.

So really, when people think that you don't do much or interact with others when you homeschool . . . well, that's not true for everyone. ;)

We're very lucky to have a fabulous group and so many great things all around us. And I love that we still have all meals together and most every evening totally free. We don't feel overprogrammed at all because we do so much together during the day as part of schooling together.

And I have loved, loved, loved sharing our kids' first day of school together. I love hanging out with them and wouldn't trade it! It's been a great day.


Dr. Mark said...

Too bad I've been so busy today--I've missed out on all of the fun! At least I'll be done soon to enjoy some first day celebrations! After all the time you've put in to getting all the school stuff organized, you deserve to let the world know what we're doing. Thanks for all you do!

April (Thorup) Oaks said...

Finally! I loved reading this.

Jillo said...

Seriously, would you all consider moving out here to Utah so we could join you? That sounds like an awesome day/year!
Secondly, where is the grand canyon in PA? I didn't know such a thing exists.

Alena said...

Wow your year sounds like its going to be great. The kids are so lucky to have such a devoted teacher!

Lindsay said...

I love how Maxim is sticking his tongue through the hole in his mouth! Love it. I can see that you have been super wonder I never see you online. Oh wait..I have not been on either. Looks like you guys have a lot of cool things on the list! Go you!!

Boquinha said...

Thanks, everyone!

Jill, here it is: PA Grand Canyon

bythelbs said...

Um, wow. Wuh-ow-wuh.

Mom said...

Looks like an interesting & ambitious schedule. I like that you are including Portuguese. What a plus for the kids to not only know a second language but also to keep in touch with their Portuguese heritage. Please share the posters, videos, stories, etc that are the product of this year's studies.
Side note: I just finished the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Loved it. I sent a copy to Mother to read and then pass on to Linda & Anita.

the emily said...

HOLY. This is why I couldn't homeschool.. So much work and planning. How do you fit in things like laundry, work, house cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.? I really admire all your hard work. Seems like fun for y'all!

Jimmy said...

Awesome. Like Emily, I don't know how you do it.

And now I feel really guilty as a parent. My idea of exposing my kids to art and culture was subjecting them to Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

Swawa said...

Happy first day of school!!! You guys are so organized!

Boquinha said...

Vivian, I loved, loved, loved the Guernsey book. LOVED it. Was a little sad to finish it--I enjoyed the characters so much. First time I've felt that way about a book in a while. Loved it!

And, before anyone starts thinking I'm homeschool mother of the year . . . I didn't post this to portray that I'm somehow so on top of things or that everything is perfect--some days are better than others and sometimes it's stressful, just like anything else. This is simply our way to show what we're doing, because people ask me--what's a typical day like, what's it like, what do we do, etc. Heck, I asked lots of homeschool moms the same questions before starting--I had difficulty picturing it because it's not what I knew growing up.

But I also must say that the truth is . . . it's really *not* that much work (planning, yes). :P Once it's planned and in place, it sort of runs itself.

Take our group for instance--EVERY family pitches in a little, so no one has to do a lot. I run the website and email group. It's a lot of work in some ways but not compared to all the benefits we get from being a part of such a great group.

And day to day in our home? It's really only 2-3 dedicated hours/day. Not bad! So, dishes, laundry, all of that gets done without much of a problem. In fact, I find it even easier to do that stuff with our schedule, to be honest. And Mark does a lot, too. It's not all me. So, truth be told, it may *look* like a lot, but the reality is that it's fairly easy. Not every day is smooth or stress free, but by and large, it really does go well and we really, truly do love it.

J Fo said...

Looks like some great stuff this year! Can I be in your class?!

Chelle said...

What a great post. So ambitious! I love how organized everything is - when it's organized well up front, it makes it easier to be flexible when you need to be. Your enthusiasm definitely shows and it's easy to see that your kids are so happy. I find your homeschooling life pretty fascinating.

I'm worn out from so much ambition on your part. I need to go take a quick nap.

Tasha said...

That sounds fabulous Stacey!
Here's to a great year!

Gary said...

I like that you are studying music. Might I reccommend a little Led Zephelin, The Who and Creme to round out their study. I've recently rediscovered these groups on Pandora and love them.