Usually, I write a sappy post detailing our first day of school. This year, the first week of school was probably the most hectic first week we have ever had, so that didn't happen. In fact, if you look back, I technically wrote Lukas' birthday post on the first day of school, which was not his birthday. I think. Did I mention that this was a hectic week?
As busy as the week was, it was a great week for us. Monday was Labor Day, and we had a small cook-out with some friends and my mom. Tuesday, we celebrated Lukas' birthday and did last minute school planning and house cleaning and organizing. My amazing husband moved the awful looking craft shelves out of my dining room and put everything into a closet instead. We still have one set of bookshelves in the dining room, but I don't mind that. They look organized (for now) and are actually mostly filled with books and our everyday supplies. Hiding the craft disaster has made me so, SO happy.Clutter clutters my brain. How's that for a sentence?
School officially started at our house on Wednesday. We have some fun first day of school traditions. I always loved going back to school when I was a kid (Here's an unnecessary tidbit for this post...I recently had a conversation with another homeschooling mom about how much we loved the smell of the first day of school, as in, the smell of the school building. She wondered what we were smelling. We may never know...), so we have incorporated a few fun things that make the day special. We start with a special breakfast for which the kids plan the menu. This year, they chose this:
After breakfast, we generally take our annual school pictures. This year, we did take some photos, but I'm not sure they're our official school pics. It was rainy and cool outside, so we took them all indoors. I have a vision of what I want their actual school pictures to look like this year since I am really, really, really going to get them printed and placed into our 8x10 frames (which currently have Lukas' 2nd grade and Ava's kindergarten pics in them. Oy). Here are some shots that we took in the house:
Because the kids are used to Daddy giving them some little things on the first day of school, we did that next. The part about this that humors me is that he always gives them stuff they'll use for school anyway, but the kids get so excited that you would think it was Christmas. They love it, and so do I! Here they are with this year's special treats:
The slap bracelets are rulers on the other side. Incidentally, the teacher had to make a rule against their presence in the classroom (um...entire house) during school hours. Uh-hem.
After ALL of that, we finally started our school day. We are not die-hard about the first week. It is most important to me that our first week is positive and successful, so I don't plan all subjects, nor do I plan anything extremely intense. Easing into school works well for us, and it only scares me a little that this easy approach still took us over 3 hours each day (including 20 minutes of vision therapy).
We started two new things this week that we haven't done in past school years. The first is a nutrition program that I found last spring and decided to put into place for this school year. It's not very detailed, so you can do as much or as little with it as you like. I found some free print-outs that mostly center around the food pyramid, which I'm not big on for reasons that I won't go into in this post (basically, protein, protein, protein), but my kids like doing worksheets once in a while, so we're using a few and adding some of my own simple projects and recipes along the way. You can find the program HERE.
The second is a Bible memory box that I found at Simply Charlotte Mason. I'm going to tell you this rather detailed story because I truly think it was a God thing that we discovered this, and I want to remember this story. First, two Sundays ago, one of our pastor's referenced Psalm 119:11 in his sermon. It says "I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you." I must confess that in the past I had this idea in my head that scripture memorization was a good thing because if Bibles were ever outlawed, we would be able to share the Word with future generations, but I didn't put much effort into scripture memorization because I figured that we had Bibles for now. That kind of brings about a crazy, humorous picture in my head, but lest you think I'm completely off my rocker, I'll leave out the details and move on to the rest of the story.
It struck me during that service, which was actually about the purpose and proper way to observe communion, that the reason we memorize scripture is to help us not to sin!! If you are really thinking that I missed the boat on this one, you are so right. It isn't as if I became a Christian yesterday (try 27 years ago). Of course, there are actually lots of other reasons that have come to mind since then, but this is what got the ball rolling and helped me to realize that scripture memorization needed to be a bigger part of discipling our children. I do always default to my husband on these issues, but he totally agreed with me, so I decided to make it a priority having no idea how I was really going to implement a better memorization system.
Later that same week, I was in Eric's office (which is really a room filled with unpacked boxes which I realize is complete ridiculousness), and I saw this:
It's designed to be a greeting card organizer and had dividers for each month. I don't remember when or where I got it, but I know it was given to me by someone along the way. I thought to myself, "There must be some way we could use this for school." Why? Because that's how homeschooling moms think.
That same day, I was searching for something on Simply Charlotte Mason, and I accidentally stumbled upon this idea for a SCRIPTURE MEMORY SYSTEM. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe God was making it very clear that Bible memorization was on His priority list for our family for this school year, and He even provided a new method that truly simplified the process. Of course, if you do this project, you can use a simple index card box, but we're using this pretty box because we already had it. I flipped the dividers around and re-labeled them and added more dividers to complete the project. We've been using it 3 days, and, so far, I'm sold on it. My kids learned this week's verse in three days flat. I'll keep you posted on whether or not it keeps working as we add more and more verses.
Oh...one last thing. We started using Teaching Textbooks for Lukas this week. I know it's still in the honeymoon stage, but he loves, loves, loves it! I assigned him 3 lessons for the week, and he has completed 5 and would have done more if today hadn't been such a busy day. I hope this new fervor for math continues. I'm sure the vision therapy he is doing is helping (the poor child has had double vision, and we didn't even know it!!!), and the fact that everything in the first part of the program is review, but he's enjoying it and learning at the same time. That's a super huge blessing!
This was a truly fantastic week of school. I think I quoted, "Do everything without complaining" to each child only once (reading lesson for the young one and doing copy work in the dreaded cursive for the old one), but that was it. I'm looking forward to our first full week this coming week, and so are the kids (even though just 3 days of our blessed routine has left me exhausted). We'll be adding science, language arts and piano(taught by the principal) to the schedule. Check back for more news next Friday!