The First Day of School (Day 1)

Well, we made it to the first day of school.

Butterfly was excited to get started and she got dressed while her older sister got ready for her own adventure of finding a school to which to go (we had been un-enrolled by the last school, but no one informed us).

Here is a first day shot of our new homeschooler!

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I had taken the advice of several sources and planned my week in PENCIL so that we could change things around as we found our rhythm. Luckily, the novelty of staying home with Mom was pretty high that day, so we were able to get a lot done.

Our Course of Study for Day #1

  • Singapore Math (she hated math in school, but this program shows a lot of visual representation of items so she can get into it)
  • Windows of the World – Introduction to Praying for the World
  • Review of John 3:16
  • Handwriting
  • Blackbird Reading and Story analysis – “The Hundred Dresses
  • Reading (30 min)
  • Maps & Globes – 17 pages about maps & globes (!)
  • “Passport” Application (actually completed the day before)
  • Geography Pretest (my darling daughter knew 0% of any geographical anything – nowhere to go but up!)
  • Properties of Ecosystems – introduction to such terms as “biotic,” “abiotic,” “ecosphere,” and “population” – a little heavy for a 3rd grader, but we have all year to get it down 😉
  • Anatomy and Physiology – She got to color while I read to her…Hey! Wait a minute!!!
  • Wee Sing – the cutest little song about saying “Hello to all the Children of the World!” – cute until you end up humming it in your sleep (**true story).
  • Art Lesson #1 – Monet

So we did all of that by 11:30am (!!!!!) ate lunch and then trundled off to the Y for Physical Education, which was…Swimming. Butterfly and I swam laps for 25 min and then came home to get ready to pick her sister up from school.

We were both on our “best behavior” so it went well, but I’m already seeing that there is too much packed into the day, even if we were able to finish it in 3 hours.

But, today, I’m counting as a success!

Less than two weeks!

Wondering where I’ve been? Perhaps the several days since my last post might lead you to believe that I’ve been getting ready for my upcoming adventure – and you would be right!

With only 13 shopping days between now and the first day of homeschool, I’m feeling mostly prepared. Next week I’ll take a 1/2 day and just loosely plan out the first two weeks. Everything I’ve heard and read suggests planning, but giving yourself some latitude when you first start out, because you aren’t sure exactly what the rhythm feels like, yet. 

We are going to focus on the “academics” in the morning and after lunch, we’ll do the P.E./art/field trip/cooking/library/foreign language type of activity. There are often times that Butterfly can’t stay seated after lunch (which is one of the the things for which she was consistently written up in mainstream school), so we might as well plan for things that allow for movement to give her every chance to actually engage learning, instead of spending all of her energy trying to stay seated. 

I’ve been attending an online homeschooling EXPO this week (http://schoolhouseexpo.com/) and it has helped me to organize some things, both mentally and physically. It was also good to be reminded that my daughter’s learning style and temperament are different than mine and that I need to adjust my teaching style for her. This is one of the areas that scared me away from even considering homeschooling in the first place, but I feel like I have some resources to help keep me from getting as frustrated as I might have previously been.

Well, I’m off to start working on some of the details and organization – starting with our wheeled “Art Bin” that has a plethora of art supplies that are needing a nice culling and straightening so we don’t spend out first day doing chores!

One Month!

Today marks the 1-month mark until we begin school at home!

We’re mostly set for curriculum (I’ll do a post on how we selected soon), with the exception of our Math and Foreign Language. We’re looking at Singapore Math (trying to find a good deal on that one) and Rosetta Stone German. If anyone has a good (frugal) source for either of those, please let me know.

Our next steps will be:

  • create our logo and letterhead,
  • submit the Withdrawal and Records Transfer Letter,
  • re-organize the desk in the girls’ room,
  • fill out the first two weeks of our planners (I purchased one for me and one for Butterfly),
  • determine which plants to get for the first week of gardening,
  • organize the materials for our arts course, and
  • plan our daily cooking classes.

I’ll be leaving my full-time job at the end of this coming week, so I’ll have some time to get this together before camp is over and school begins. 

Ever have that moment where you think you might have forgotten something as you are heading out on vacation? I’ll totally admit that I’m having a bit of that feeling right now. But I’m sure it will all work out…

Until then, we enjoy the rest of summer.

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Butterfly Garden

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re trying to figure out some ways to cut costs and afford this year of “living dangerously.” We live in an apartment in Los Angeles, which presents challenges when you want to grow your own food, but we approached our landlord about getting a little plot of land, and…

We got a garden!

The landlord had actually fenced off a section, tilled it and had started some plants. He said that he would leave in the plants that we wanted and move the rest, even providing our soil! Now we have to figure out what to grow in our little 12 x 12 plot.

Who’s got a good resource for figuring out what to grow seasonally in L.A.?

Can You Afford to Do This?

While I was messaging with a friend recently, I told her about our decision to commit to homeschooling for the next year and the first thing she asked was “Can y’all afford to do this on one income?”

I laughed to myself and then typed “LOL. No, we can’t.”

And that is the main thing I’m processing today. 

What a scary place to be; to know that the safe and logical thing is to keep working and to pay extra for all of the therapy it is going to take your family to get through ignoring your daughter’s needs…oh, wait. That’s not a real solution, is it?

I keep coming back to the idea that if a doctor told us that our daughter was sick and needed constant medical care for a year, would we balk at the idea that we would need to drastically adjust our lifestyles to find the time, resources and money to make her whole? 

So what would give me pause now? Why have I been fighting so hard against this? I think that it comes down to money. It is scary to lose over 1/2 of your income and know that you won’t have it for a year. We live in Los Angeles and our combined incomes don’t even hit 6-figures, so we’re really talking about a family of four (two of whom have special needs) existing on a small budget. 

So, we’re:

  • REALLY reducing our spending. Some of this will be inherent, as I won’t be driving to/from work and we’ll save a lot on food costs, because we’ll be eating from home almost all of the time,
  • Reducing some of our stuff. No more storage unit! Let’s save $100+/month and worry less about having to keep track of things.
  • Grow some food. I’m going to try and cut a deal with the landlord to get some of the land for a garden. It will be a natural science lesson for our Butterfly, and will defray at least a little bit of our produce bill. 
  • Burn through my stash. If you are a crafter, you know about THE STASH. Some are big, some are small, and I have three of them. Yarn, fabric and memorykeeping. This is the year of “use what you got (or ask a friend for some of theirs).” 
  • Find the free kid stuff. Our girls arrived with no swimming skills, so we’ve been paying for lessons for about a year. Now, physical activity like that is highly therapeutic, and we’re not going to lose that angle, but we are going to look for other opportunities that may not cost as much to participate and make sure we are rounding it out with dance and sports when we are able to. But, we live in LA and, well, there’s this rumor that we have a beach somewhere…
  • Fundraise. Ugh. I hate asking people for money, but you know what? I’ve been donating to my friend’s efforts for years and this is really important, not just a whim or a decision that we came to lightly and, well, we need help. So we signed up for one of these http://www.gofundme.com/blossomingbutterfly and we’ll see what we can do!

So there are some of our initial efforts to try and make it a little less painful. 

If you know of any other viable sources of income that won’t interfere with the main focus of my being at home, please feel free to share!

What are we thinking?

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the poster child for homeschooling.

Wait, I think we’re supposed to say “home education” or something, I’m not 100% clear on the terminology, yet.

Anyway, I have been fighting against even the slightest notion of educating from home for the last two years. When our daughters moved in and it became clear that they needed a high level of parental involvement, a good number of the professionals we were working with would look at my husband and me and say, “you know, they would benefit therapeutically if you were to homeschool them.” At this point in the conversation, I would begin to list all the reasons that this was a terrible idea, the first being that “We just got them. It would be a shame to lose them in a battle over school work.” I would then cite the need for income when living in Los Angeles, the fact that I’m just finishing my Masters and what a waste of money to stay home, that I am impatient, and on and on.

And then a funny thing happened.

My youngest daughter started attaching, about 1.5 years after moving in.

What that meant is that, for the first time, she started having Separation Anxiety. Not the First-Day-of-Kindergarten-Tears, which I hear it terribly heartbreaking for parents, but the “I don’t even know that my subconscious is freaking out about being away from my mom, but it sure feels better when I color all over my desk, body, clothes and classmates with this marker before I turn my desk over” kind of way. After many, many “pink slip” (our public school’s method of informing parents of disciplinary issues) and a two-day suspension, it became clear that my little 2nd grade butterfly was trying to tell me that she was DONE with going to school.

At the same time, my Facebook feed began to be flooded with posts and articles from friends about Homeschooling. Ah, the dreaded H-word. There it was again.

So my husband and I began to talk. We would forward articles back and forth and talk about private schools, online schools, co-op schools, etc. I sent out a few inquiries to friends and acquaintances that I knew were homeschooling. They pointed me in the direction of some associations, some groups, and some curriculum.

I started thinking about how I might use a holistic approach (this is before I knew about Unit Studies) and use topics to address the different academic arenas. I pondered what P.E. would look like for us. I read the book “Love in a Time of Homeschooling” and was grateful to learn someone else’s mistakes and successes. I had a conversation with an Internship Supervisor who said, “oh, did you know we homeschooled our daughter for one year to give her a ‘re-set’?”

Then, we were asked to come to the school to meet with the Principal and a team of other staff. The gist of the meeting is that they wanted to send Butterfly home for “Independent Study” for the rest of the school year. We politely declined, presented some alternatives and walked away knowing that if they were going to “manage” her out, that we would be homeschooling, not letting the school make state/federal money from a student that they didn’t want to deal with any longer.

On that day, we knew that we were going to be homeschooling Butterfly for the 2013-2014 school year and we started planning for our private school.

Welcome to the Blossoming Butterfly Learning Center.