Today was the first day I homeschooled both kids. Honestly, I approached this day with a bit of apprehension, because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to balance out my kids’ vastly different personality types with my own teaching style and also was concerned about having enough time to teach each child a different curriculum. Also, a tiny part of me was expecting some form of rebellion/challenge, particularly from my son who has only known public school thus far.
The key goal I wanted to establish today was that during school hours I was the teacher, not mom. Some homeschoolers have their kids refer to them as “Mrs.” Smith or whatever, but that seemed weird to me. However, we did establish a homeschool room as opposed to just the kitchen table and I made sure both kids got up early and got dressed, as opposed to lying around in PJs all day.
A book I found really helpful was “The Essential 55” from an award winning teacher I saw interviewed on an old episode of the Oprah show. Basically it’s a list of rules that establishes clear expectations for students to excel in his class that I adapted for my homeschool. Throughout the day we referred back to the rules, especially #6, “When I assign something, do not moan or complain.” Pretty soon both kids were calling each other out for breaking this rule, which made my job as a teacher a heck of a lot easier.
We followed a schedule as a guideline, but I adjusted it based on how they were reacting. For example, I gave each of them ten minutes to write about their summer. Usually my daughter hates to write, but she had a lot to say about her vacation, so when the ten minutes were up I allowed her to keep writing until she felt the composition was complete.
At the other end of the spectrum, earth science was just not cutting it with my kids, who began to squirm and look at their nails, the ceiling, out the window, basically anywhere but the book, so I cut class early and plan to start with that course tomorrow morning to get the toughest subject out of the way first.
When they got too fidgety, the personal trainer in me came out. (FYI – I also blog at ShesLosingIt.com). I had them take turns on the treadmill, do some pushups and do curls with 5 lb. dumbbells. It got enough extra energy burned off so they could settle down and focus on math.
One thing I discovered teaching my daughter, Rylee, last year was that if we really focused we could complete the entire workload by Wednesday. Wednesday! I think when you only have one student versus 18 and don’t have to do time-suck things like take attendance and walk in lines down the halls you can get through the basic academics much faster. That said, it’s only the first day, so hopefully we will be able to keep up a good pace.
We ended the day with something fun – baking cornbread, which tied into our history lesson about Native American culture.
Overall, it was a great first day. I won’t be homeschooling forever, so I really am cherishing this time we get to spend together learning new things.
Hope you have a great school year too!
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two, political activist, and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT, starring John Cena, on FOX
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