Getting Started

This is it. Tomorrow morning we kick off first grade homeschool. I’ve been homeschooling Miss A since she was 2, but somehow Pre-k, and even Kindergarten, didn’t give me cause for much stress. I had a schedule and lesson plans, but it was for the most part, relaxed and intuitive.

But first grade is fur reals man.

First grade is like, serious business.

So I decided we needed a bit more stucture and organization this year: the old, “Fail to plan, plan to fail” mantra, y’know.

Yet, I am also realistic and don’t plan (or want) to turn my house into some evil child labor scene from a Dickens’ novel. So the schedule is intended to ensure there is room for downtime – bits of chillin’ out that will bring balance to our hectic day (and hopefully keep my stress level from rocketing past Jupiter).

One of the nice things about homeschooling is that we can skip the manic morning rush so many households have to face each school day. We can stay in our pj’s for a few hours while breakfast is eaten, laundry and dishes are done, a bit of tv is watched, and email is caught up. In other words, we can ease into our day. From 7-9 am Miss A has time to eat breakfast and watch some tv. She also needs to get dressed and brush her teeth during that time, but I think 2 hours guarantees she won’t be feeling rushed. During this time I too will have breakfast, check e-mail, do some chores, feed and dress Lil’ G and generally prepare for my day.

Nice, huh?

However, Miss A and I both need to earn our morning time (I  don’t know where this Puritan work ethic comes from, I just have it), and simultaneously get a jump on the day so it feels more productive from the get-go: I get up at 6am to make the husband’s coffee anyway, so I will spend 30 minutes either on the treadmill or doing yoga, then if I’m lucky, I’ll spend 10-30 minutes free writing for my WIP. Miss A is usually up between 6:30 & 7am (a big improvement over the 5am wake-up call she insisted upon from birth to 4 years old, in which she would scream…or, when she was old enough to talk, lay in bed and yell “I’M AWAKE!”) – she can have her chocolate milk right away, but breakfast and t.v. have to wait until she completes a few quick worksheets.

I did this last year for her with Kindergarten too – I’d leave a worksheet on her desk each morning for her to do when she woke up. I’d usually pull something from one of her current workbooks…but often I would forget, or not find something I really wanted to use as a “quick start” activity. And more often than not, the morning worksheet just didn’t happen.

But not so this year.

This is first grade, remember? The Big Time.

No excuses, no forgetting.

Which is why I was so tickled to find this line of workbooks at a local teacher’s resource store the other day.  Created by Weekly Reader, they are a series of workbooks designed to provide daily  quick activities that are organized to build skills, integrate core knowledge, and encourage critical thinking. I got both the first and second grade math books (Miss A is like her dad, and has mad math skillz) and the daily language practice book. The worksheets are broken down into units, with a sheet for each day of the week, plus weekly and monthly reviews.

See, no more excuses! Each morning Miss A will have 1 language and 1 math practice sheet waiting for her. (She earns stickers and stuff for doing them, so it’s not a hardship for her). In the evening, she’ll do a second math practice sheet with Dada while dinner is getting ready. Yay for routines that work!

Visiting their website, I see they offer some of their books in e-format…which is like made of awesome, since then I can print out the pages and use ’em again and again if I feel like it (for Lil’ G when it’s her turn, or if Miss A messes up and throws a fit that her page “Doesn’t look right!!!”) They also have some map and geography workbooks for 1st grade, which I’m curious to check out.

I’m ordering their catalog now, I’ll be sure to let you know if I find more I likey.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to get the first week’s worth of morning worksheets ready.

Thanks to Weekly Reader, it will take me like 5 seconds.

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