Sunday, September 5, 2010

School is Underway at Smooth Stones

We have now completed our first three weeks of school for the '10-'11 school year. We've had a great start, much better than I expected actually. This year Thatcher is in fourth grade, Haddon in Kinder and Beckett in pre-k. My days are so full but they are good.

For the first month of school I committed myself to going "off radar" meaning that I would cut out all but what was essential in order to establish good routines. I told myself I would do a few things each day: school with home phone off and Mommy offline (I keep my cell phone with me on mute for dh or in case of emergency), home-cooked healthy meals 3x a day, time in the Bible, enough of me at the end of each day to have something left for dh, exercise most days, a clean house and an early bedtime.

Those commitments have filled my day so much that I am not sure how I'll go back "on radar". Things like an occasional girls' night, time for blogging, nights to scrapbook every now and then and time on my favorite message board are all icing on the cake right now. I am really hoping to work these all in but it will be a gradual process. Today is a holiday and I am caught up on lesson plans and the house is clean so I am enjoying the luxury of blogging! :)

I have updated my sidebars to show what all we are doing this year. With Thatcher for the first time I am using an official science curriculum and we have really enjoyed Real Science for Kids (RS4K) Chemistry very much. Lessons One and Two of Writing Tales have also gone very well. This year we have really ramped up the amount of writing Thatcher does on a daily basis and he is doing wonderfully with the increase. It's a challenge for him but very much within his range of ability. We started the year with six weeks of review from Horizons 4 (using the worksheets provided in the TM) as well as introducing Daily Word Problems. We are also drilling math facts because they are still not at the point of automaticity. We are working through SOTW 4 at an accelerated pace (upcoming blog post) due to some of the emotionally challenging content included in this phase of history but Thatcher is loving it. He begs for history every day.

Haddon is loving Horizons K for math. He wants to do it first each day and does at least two lessons daily, sometimes more. Now that we have the colorful pages of Horizons, ETC has been dethroned as his favorite. :) Still it is proving to be a solid phonics program for now two children at Smooth Stones Academy. Haddon is becoming a solid reader on its merits, along with tons of practice with Mommy. He is enjoying his science book basket as well.

Starting school with Beckett has been one of my greatest joys this year. He is a strong-willed child and I expected the transition to mommy as teacher would be a tough one for him. I was wrong; he loves it! So far he is only doing Get Ready for the Code with me as well as our calendar board. He also watches Plazo Sesamo daily in preparation to start Elementary Spanish in first grade. Each thing he does with complete excitement. I know the newness will most likely wear off soon, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts! He also goes to our church pre-school two days a week and that is a fun break for all of us. :)

We still have quite a bit to tweak. A smoother start to our mornings (attitude being a struggle), more efficient use of our time so we are sure to get most subjects done every day, my getting in bed early enough so that I am prepared for anything the day brings my way among others are still areas that need improvement. But we'll get there.

I hope your new year has gotten off to an amazing start. This has been our best start so far and for that I am very grateful. Be encouraged if your beginnings have been a little more rocky. You can read about my very first day here. It was not pretty. ;)


Melissa said...

You are so self-disciplined, my friend! What great choices you made to start the year off right. (We start tomorrow, and I'm hoping for at least that good night of sleep!)

Thank you for always including your curriculum in your sidebar. Because of it, I'm using Writing Tales for my own 4th-grader and RS4K with both boys this year. I hadn't heard of either one until I saw them in your list.

Beckett is four, right? When you mentioned he does everything with complete excitement, I thought of my Gracie (3). I have some activities in her own little drawers and will require each of her big brothers to spend at least 10 minutes with her on an activity once they finish their work. I think she'll love it. (And secretly, they will, too, even if they are preschool activities! :)

Keeping my two-year-old content may end up being the biggest challenge of all...

Andrea said...

Sounds like you are transitioning well into this new year! Bumps are normal and I hope you will all be adjusted soon! What an exciting plan you have for the boys -you inspire me!

Kellie said...

Good for you for committing to the important things! I'm making an honest effort in those same areas as well, although I'm not sure our cereal this morning qualifies as homemade. : ) I pray you have a wonderful year!