Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gently Moving Toward Independence: The Student Planner

We had an amazing summer.  We realized that we're in a brand new era.  All four kids are growing up. They sleep all night, most nights, in their own beds.  They are all potty trained (not a new thing, but still noteworthy). They can swim.  We were able to hit the pool and let them loose.  Of course, I made Grace wear her floaties, but she was very independent.  At home, I let her swim without them if I was with her, but she was swimming like a pro by the end of summer.

We're in an era of gently moving them forward, helping them find what they enjoy doing, helping them be the person God would have them to be.

This has become especially evident in the area of our homeschooling.  

Ethan is reading independently, so he doesn't need me to sit by him and listen anymore.  He doesn't need help with several of his language arts assignments.  He works independently and asks questions when he doesn't understand something or if a new concept is confusing him.  He does the same with his math.  He uses a planner where I list all of his assignments.  He checks them off as he goes.

Daniel does the same thing, although he's not an independent reader, yet.  I still make him read aloud to me.  We tried to let him do some of his assignment reading on his own, but his nature would tend to read quickly, not comprehend what he read, and check it off his list.  I stay close by while he works, and he reads a book of his choosing for independent reading.  He loves his list.  He works well, and he works quickly.  He wants to get done with his morning school time as quickly as possible.

The boys do writing together. They write a paragraph every week of some form or fashion. They outline a model paragraph, write it in their own words, edit, and rewrite every week.  Ethan's final draft looks like that of a fourth grader and Daniel's looks like a second grader's.  The differences between the two final drafts are interesting.  Ethan's has a little more complicated sentence structure and vocabulary, but the content is the same. They're getting the hang of it. 

Hannah has a planner, too.  I wanted to include her since she's doing a lot more formal stuff this year.  Although I do sit beside her through all her assignments, she enjoys being able to check off her list.

Grace has her time with me as well, but she doesn't have a planner.  

We do language arts, math, and our K/PreK things in the mornings.  The kids get a break, lunch, and quiet time.  Then, we do science, history, geography, art, and music together in the afternoons.  Not every thing, every afternoon, but science and history and one of the other things most afternoons.  The girls participate in assignments occasionally, but they prefer arts, crafts, and science experiments.  They listen in to any reading aloud that I do.  We try to do as much together as we can.  Then, we split into level appropriate assignments regarding the same content.

I list whatever subjects we're doing that day so they can check those off as well.

The planners have helped tremendously.  I love to see them feel a sense of accomplishment when they know they're finished for the day.  Each day seems to move them into learning independently and being responsible for completing their own assignments.

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