School has taken on a whole new meaning for us this week!  That is a good thing.

Adding on to the whole “workbox system” we began using last week , we’ve made some adaptations to what we do– it has been a wonderful start to our new way of doing things for 2010.  After one week, however, I discovered a beautiful key to teaching 2nd grade:  student independence.

I guess I always knew that I was holding on too tightly to our school days.  I need order and a system that works- but I also realized that I don’t need to be actively “teaching” every subject.  Serving as more of a facilitator and overseer this past week, I have been able to let my 7 year old take a pre-written list of school instructions/assignment sheet for the day back to her school desk, close the door, and have at it.  I tell her, “if you have any questions, just holla”.

I should have known this would have worked out so much better for us.  For NyGirl’s entire first semester of kindergarten she was practically self-taught with an Abeka workbook and a few other supplies while I rested from a long pregnancy and spent time in labor, delivery, and adjusting to having a newborn.    She did well- and all without my constant intervention.  I think I probably felt a little out of sorts because I didn’t feel like I was “on top of things”.

Which probably explains my complete 180 turn the next year in wanting to regain control I felt I had lost.  And, of course, I was attracted to the Classical Method in helping me to regain that “lost” control.

Now?

Now I am learning to let go a bit.  I still have structure and order, but the independence NyGirl has is making our lives so much easier.  Not to mention, she enjoys not having me over her the entire school day.  Our school days are shorter.  We have time for more extracurriculars and fun time together.  We both like the ease of how our days flow.

Let me give you an example of what our days typically look like:

(There are always exceptions, and I don’t make any hard and fast rule about not going anywhere during certain hours.  So many of our days may find us doing school work at the library or Barnes and Noble, or at the coffeeshop while BabyZ goes to nursery).  But in general, this is what it looks like:

  • Up/toiletries/change clothes/chores/breakfast
  • At breakfast, recite the week’s scripture memory verse
  • After breakfast, clear the table and sit back at the table for “morning meeting”, which consists of  a special bible nursery song for Baby Z, bible story for both girls (currently reading the Children’s ILlustrated Bible New Testament at their father’s request), then a Saxon math lesson for NyGirl while BabyZ works on counting chips or counting bears.  I might at this point also give a grammar lesson from First Language Lessons.
  • Then dismiss to NyGirl’s school desk in her room to complete her lessons.  I usually put out her school assignment sheet and workbooks in order on her desk the night before.  During this time BabyZ and I might work on a floor puzzle, recite abc’s, color, or watch educational PBS Kids shows.  From time to time NyGirl comes out of her room for assistance, or a teacher check.

That is the general order of things.  While at her school desk, she usually finishes the following assignments from these resources:

  • Saxon Math 3 review sheet
  • Bible Lifepace- grade 2
  • BJU 3rd grade grammar workbook
  • Spectrum Spelling- grade 4
  • cursive handwriting worksheet
  • and depending on the day of the week, we might do any one of the following: Geography, American History online lesson, piano lesson, violin lesson, P.E., art, or French.  Sometimes we hit only a few of these topics only twice a month or so, and that is okay with me as long as there is exposure.  Piano,  French, and American History we try to do weekly, and P.E. usually happens 3 or 4 times a week if no one is ill (since we’re paying for gym membership).

And that is about it.

But the secret of my peace of mind now has a lot to do with a routine that works for us.  I haven’t left the “control” issue completely at the door, though.  I still have my plans for at our school days and how I want them to proceed, but I am beginning to take a breather now that she is old enough to be more independent with her school work, and I am embracing it.

I think my favorite part is checking her work at the end of the day, writing small notes on her workbook pages (like “good job-keep it up!”, you know- typical “teacher-ish” behavior!), giving her stickers, and watching her face light up the next day when she opens her workbook and reads my comments from the night before.  That makes my day.

That, and the fact that she finishes all of the above subjects in about 1 -2 hours when it would have normally taken me about 4-5 hours to teach it (because of lots of toddler interruptions).  That has been the main reliever for me.

Remember, BabyZ is still only 2, and very active.  I have had to let go of the marker board for a season.  What works for us is just using blank computer paper, front and back, as our “white board”.  While at the kitchen table for our morning meeting, I use the blank paper for our math  and grammar instruction.  I try to write out the majority of the math and grammar examples out the night before to just make that morning’s work easier.

All this prep work and planning is going to make for a very productive school year.  I’m a happy mama, and a happy teacher 🙂

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