Monthly Archives: July 2013

13. School Year Calendar

I’ve added the Calendar page to my GGP Teacher Manual.

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GGP 2013-2014 Calendar

You can download and customize the calendar for your school.

I usually print out several grayscale copies to mark up as I figure out our school year and number the weeks.

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Marked Calendar JPG (click to enlarge)

Here are what all my markings mean:

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My Calendar Explained (click to enlarge)

The calendar helps me get a visual idea of how many weeks we really need to accomplish all of our goals and how many weeks we can use for breaks.  I’ll add my final calendar to the Calendar page of my GGP Teacher Manual when it’s done.

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12. Reality

Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at other homeschoolers’ blogs, because they seem to have everything so much more under control than I do.  Their classrooms are set up with everything you could possibly want; we do school at the dining room table and have one bookshelf for all of our homeschool materials.  Their website photos are magazine-ready; I tend to use snapshots from my iPhone.  (I have a nice Canon DSLR but would rather not deal with the extra step of transferring photos from the memory card to the computer.  My iPhone is just too easy in comparison).  Their kids seem so studious and exceptional at everything they do.  Ashby and Ryan do love to read and give me no trouble with lessons.  I, of course, think they are exceptional.  But, I also know they’re normal kids…they want to play, and self-restraint isn’t tops on their agenda.  They would watch TV and eat snacks all day long if I allowed it (I don’t). But, they’re curious, respectful, resourceful, and imaginative.   That’s what matters to me.

So, I remind myself not to believe everything I see online.  Look at this:

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This was Saturday morning.  The kids and I took a nice walk to a local coffee shop for breakfast, and they ran around and played outside when we were done.  What joyful and loving siblings, right?  A perfect morning…sunshine, a cup of coffee, happy kids.

Well, here we are about 2 minutes later:

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Ashby comes over to tell me that Ryan is mad, because she isn’t playing the game according to his rules (which he has a tendency to keep adding as his games go along).  Now, Ashby is mad at me, because I’m not reprimanding Ryan right this second (I never do, she tells me).   And do you see Ryan pouting in the background?

This is my perfect Saturday morning.  This is reality.  But, it’s quite easy for me to just post the first pic and tell the world how wonderful our life is.  Not only will you think I’ve got it all together, but I might believe it myself.   So, why not?

Well, just in case I’ve given you the impression up until now that everything is roses and cotton candy in our homeschool experience, I want to set the record straight.  I can’t promise that every post I make will inspire you with its beauty or demonstrate how easy and natural it is to homeschool.  But I can assure you that I’ll be honest.  I can offer you resources that I find useful and lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my years homeschooling.  I’ll post about some of our fun homeschool days, but I’ll address the flops, too (with the hope that our challenge could lead to someone else’s success).

The reality is that some days are amazing, and I impress even myself. More often, though, homeschooling (and parenting, in general) is an exercise in patience and humility.  I don’t have all the answers, contrary to what I could easily project here on my blog.  But, every day is a new opportunity to learn and teach, and for that I am thankful.

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11. Taking Care of Me

Looking forward to my Rotary meeting today. As a homeschool mom, I need this weekly “me” time. My other sanity keepers: gardening and baking. What do you do just for you?

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10. Course Schedules and an Art Gallery

I have updated my Golden Gate Prep Teacher Manual with the remaining course schedules (history, Latin, art, health) for our upcoming school year. (I’ll update the math schedules to include the second semester soon).

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On the Art Course Schedule page of my teacher manual, you’ll find my Art Gallery. This is a homemade book the kids will complete as we go through the school year. I bought a simple binding system (hole punch and coils) last year and discovered that I LOVE making these books. So, you’ll be seeing more of these for our other subjects in the near future. (I have several in mind for Health already).

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I’ve completed the first three steps of my planning for the school year:
1. Standards
2. Goals
3. Course Schedules

These are what I consider the hardest (i.e. least creative) steps to planning. But, they set the foundation and ensure a successful school year for us. As much as I enjoy lists and checkmarks, though (and I really do), I get a different sort of satisfaction from the remaining planning steps. Now come the fun parts, the ones where I get to play and put my personal touch on things.

Up next, our school calendar…maybe not what most people think of as fun, but I’m excited!

9. Course Schedules

I am well into Step 3 of my preparation for the 2013-2014 school year: Course Schedules!

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Sample Course Schedule

My course schedules map out each subject for the entire year, day by day.  So, this step takes me some time to complete.  I make course schedules for everything but spelling, writing, grammar, and Mandarin.  These subjects are pretty straightforward (or not taught by me, in the case of Mandarin).  I do list these subjects on our weekly schedule, but we just do the next lesson each time.

So far, I’ve posted my math and science course schedules.  You’ll notice those are the only two links working on the main Course Schedule page of my GGP Teacher Manual.  The rest will become active as I complete the subjects.

 

8. Goal Sheets Completed…Finally!

The goal sheets took me longer than usual this year.  We’ve had some other stuff going on this past week.  The kids were supposed to have summer camp Monday – Wednesday (9am-4pm), and I was going to get all kinds of school prep done.  BUT, we had a crazy heat wave , and the kids’ summer sports and splash camp felt more like punishment than fun.  Ryan made it to noon the first day; both kids were home after lunch the second day; and we totally skipped the third day (opting to stay cool at home instead).  So, there went my quiet work time.

Thursday was the 4th of July.  We spent the morning doing an art and literacy project with my Rotary Club.  The idea for this project came from our time living in New York.  The New York Parks and Recreation department had this great program called Art in the Park, and I used to take Ashby when she was just a couple years old.  They offered free art projects right there in the parks.  I always wanted to recreate this program after I returned to CA, and last year my Rotary Club welcomed my idea with enthusiasm and helped me to make it a reality.  So, now we have a mobile setup and provide literacy-based art projects and opportunities to read with Rotarian volunteers.  Every kid leaves with a book of his or her choice, too (and a mini-book of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution in this case).

Our setup

Our setup

Ashby has turned out to be my best helper.  She loves to come up with project ideas, help us set up, and read with the younger kids.

Number 1 helper!

Number 1 helper!

I enjoy this program for lots of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that Ashby and Ryan get to meet and talk with lots of people (kids and adults) while doing something that contributes to our community.  It’s a few hours out of our month, but I hope it will have a lasting effect on them.  Mike joined in recently, too, and it’s a great way for us to spend time together as a family.

We did the project on the 4th from 7-10 am just outside a pre-parade pancake breakfast offered by a local church (this was their 60th annual breakfast).  Kids came for the pancakes but stayed for the art and books(…I’m tricky like that).  After the project, we watched the parade (from these same shady seats, by the way).  It was a great day…which turned into a great four-day weekend (when Dad’s off work, we play).  Of course, I got absolutely no school preparation done for these four days.

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Eventually, I finished the goal sheets for the remainder of our 2013-2014 courses.  You can find links to each subject on the Goals page of my GGP Teacher Manual.

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Goal Sheet

Now that I’ve finished our goals, I’m on to step 3 (one of my favorites): scheduling.  More about this in future posts.