Welcome to another episode of Wondering Wednesday, a video or audio post in which I answer questions submitted to me by readers!
Consider Behavior First
- Readiness to learn formally is more than just “academic readiness”
- Behavior problems of the preschool days will get carried into school work
(Having a school schedule does help behaviors some, but will not solve them entirely.)
- The trouble you might be having getting teeth brushed or coming to breakfast, etc., will
only be exacerbated by adding “come to school table” or “do seatwork” or “listen.”
Donna Reish, author of character quality language arts and meaningful composition, answers a couple of readers questions about kindergarten. In this podcast episode, she specifically talks about what types of behaviors parents should expect from a four to six year-old child before starting formal academics and the six most important things to focus on first, including obedience, morning routines, chore times, and informal learning. She describes the optimum learning environment and gives insight as to what to look for in readiness to learn to read. Join Donna as she describes some of the best years of parenting.
I was recently asked what my “educational expectations” would be with a five year old. Now, this fall marks our thirtieth year of homeschooling. Through the years, we have ebbed and flowed with the trends of homeschooling just like all other long-term homeschoolers. However, there are some things that have always stayed the same for us:
I am doing a new series on “back to school” (see the first post here), and as part of that, I am encouraging moms to learn some efficiency and organizational strategies to make the school year better. I look back on my thirty-one years of homeschooling so far and realize that each year, each season, each month was really another opportunity to add another skill, another layer to my organization, efficiency, and home management strategies.
Donna Reish, of Character Ink Publishing and Raising Kids With Character parenting seminar, continues her answers to questions about “getting it all done” in this follow up to last week’s “Foundations for Becoming an Efficiency Expert.” In this episode, Donna answers questions about to do lists (which ones are the most valuable and which ones are just lists that we easily forget or give up on), procrastination, overwhelming situations, and more.
In this episode, Donna Reish (author, editing, and teacher at Character Ink Publishing Company and Raising Kids With Character Parenting Seminar) answers foundational questions about becoming more efficient at home, work, and school. Donna lays the groundwork for next week’s episode (“Efficiency Tips”) by introducing three major aspects that are foundational to becoming efficient: narrowing your focus/not trying to do too many things (i.e. NOT becoming a “Jane of all trades”!), giving up perfectionism, and truly working hard (with two benchmarks to measure your work output). She includes interesting research by Malcom Gladwell (author of “Outliers” and many other books about people, research, and success) about how one becomes an “expert”—and applies this research to parenting as well as becoming outstanding in your areas.
I is for INDEPENDENT WORK!
|Chart by picstopin.com|
If you don’t start Independent Work Charts/Lists with your littles, you will definitely want to start it in elementary school after your child learns to read!
(Some people feel that they have very little to put in an Independent Work Chart for little kids. We always managed to find things as I felt it kept my littles learning and exploring all the time–and it helped my preschoolers to NEVER be bored!)i
Here are some tips for creating Independent Work Lists for elementary children:
1. Either make it on a chart that the child uses wipe and write markers and mount it somewhere–or make it in Excel (or your favorite record keeping program) and place it on a thin clip boards.
Trust me: loose papers never make it back to mom at the end of the day. (Spoken from true experiences–plural–you would think I would have learned this the first time or two! 😉 )
2. Put things in the order of importance on the chart–in the order that you want them done.
3. And/or put things in sections.
I used to have mine in order and sections–the first so many items needed done before the child met with Mom or before the child had a morning snack or before lunch chores, or whatever. Never underestimate the value of teaching children time management, prioritizing, etc. via these daily checklists.
4. Explain to your child that this is his daily accountability list.
He is to get these things done each day. (Hint: We taught our children from their earliest recollection of school that school is their occupation. It was what they were supposed to be about every day. No questions asked. No exceptions (unless we parents wanted an exception for sickness or family trips, etc.–in other words, the child doesn’t choose to do school or not do school–ever).
5. For things that you are uncertain of/change-ables, put time or generic wording, such as “30 minutes of uninterrupted CQLA work” or “All CQLA assignments from previous meeting with Mom,” etc.
6. Be sure to include drill work, silent reading, etc.–all the extras that you want him to do each day.
(I even put the things that they would often do as I read aloud on this list in the section marked “During Read-Aloud”–such as coloring in educational coloring book, penmanship page, building something with Legos, etc.)
7. Be sure there is a time in which it is turned in each day.
This is kind of another subject, but it fits here as well: A child should not go to basketball practice, Girl Scouts, youth group, or any other activity if he doesn’t do his school. Period. We have so many parents come up to us at conventions and say, “I just can’t get my fifteen year old to finish his school each day, and he keeps getting further and further behind.” Then we ask, “Does he go to sports practice in the afternoon? Does he go to youth group that night?’ etc. etc. None of those things should ever happen if he doesn’t do his school. School is non-optional.
If your child’s independent list is on a clip board, he can simply put the clip board on your desk at the end of the day–all checked off and ready for the next day.
8. The Independent Work Checklist is, in part, to help keep the child moving as you are working with other kids, walking your college kids through a difficulty on the phone, or helping Grandma with something. In other words, you want to teach your student to get up and start on the list right away–and to go back to the list any time he is not meeting with you or doing chores, etc. (I even put things like “Read to Jonathan for 15 minutes” and “30 minutes of morning devotional book and journaling” on the list–everything the child does (outside of chores) was listed on this chart.
I just can’t stress enough the benefits of the Independent Work Lists–for Mom and for the student. It takes away gray areas of parenting (something crucial that we teach in our parenting seminars). It helps the child become an independent learner. It teaches many character qualities–perseverance, prioritizing, resourcefulness, responsibility, diligence, timeliness, and much more. Yeah, I am pretty crazy about my thirty years of Independent Work Lists! 😉
|Edudemic (clip art)|
B is for BACK-TO-SCHOOL!
Do you start back on the traditional school schedule? Or do you school in the summer to get some days in? Or do you school year round and take breaks throughout the year?
Homeschooling provides flexibility in all areas (not just starting school but literally EVERYTHING) that we don’t even begin to appreciate fully. (I didn’t until my kids started taking college classes, and they were so locked in to schedules and no time off!!!!)
B is for BACK-TO-SCHOOL!
Do you have a command center? Regardless of whether you use charts, sticker posters, wipe and write, or clip boards for your schedule/chores/organizational systems, I recommend you follow this one tip first:
Get the first hour of the day down pat before you try to “perfect” everything else.
When the first hour of your day is good, the whole day can be good!
B is for BACK-TO-SCHOOL!
While we are blessed not to have to buy, buy, buy…clothes, supplies, etc., every August just because everybody else is (sometimes I do think it would be fun to go “back to school” clothes shopping with the kids though!), do pay attention to the sales during this time.
For example, we use a lot of three-pronged, two-pocket folders for each monthly unit of work (for storage when the month is done), and those are available now for fifteen cents each vs. up to sixty cents each during the “off season.”
Plus, I just have to get some scented markers, cool sticky notes, or other fun thing for the teacher!
A is for ATTENDANCE!
What does attendance mean in your state?
In our nearly thirty years of homeschooling in Indiana, we have had laws that have read something like this: “A student between the ages of seven and sixteen (not sure what age this is now) must attend public school or have equivalent instruction” and equivalent instruction has usually meant 180 days of “instruction.”
More on this later–such as attendance keeping AND what constitutes a day of school–if our child is home, isn’t he “in school”?
A is for ATTENDANCE!
If you live in a state where you are mandated to keep track of your days (your kids’ “attendance”), I recommend keeping it simple!
Even if you use an elaborate lesson plan or other tracking system, I would still get a dollar pocket calendar and write the days on it. It can be as simple as putting in the corner of each school day 4/180 (day four of attendance out of 180 total).
The reason for this is that if all you really HAVE to have is 180 days recorded somewhere, then do that in a simple, non -fussy way so that you can be sure that it gets done. Then if you want to record it i your lesson plan, tracker, etc., as well, that is fine.
However, even if your more elaborate system breaks down somewhere mid-year (or your computer loses it!), you will still have your pocket calendar with the minimum that you are required taken care of.
More on WHAT to count as a homeschool day later!
A is for ATTENDANCE!
How do you know when something should be counted as a full day or half day or no day?
There are plenty of ways to look at this: (1) must complete all regular daily work to be a day; (2) schools take half days all the time for movies, inservice, etc., so it won’t make that much difference; (3) a certain number of hours equals a full day; (4) field trips count/field trips don’t count; (5) other!
The point of this isn’t to solve your “what do I count” dilemma but rather to make us all aware of the need to give our children the best we can and the need to be above reproach at all times.
We personally have decided what to “count” as a day in different ways during different seasons: (1) as long as language arts and math were done, we would count a half day of art and gym or library and cooking along with that for a day; (2) a certain amount of time. We used an hour counting approach (hours worked on academics or training-only non academics (PE, art, home ec, etc.–not daily/routine activities) that went something like this:
a. 2 hours for K-2nd grade
b. 3 hours for 3rd-5th
c. 3.5 hours for 6th-8th
d. 4 to 5 hours for high school
Regardless of how you count your days of ATTENDANCE, please consider the following:
1. Always be above reproach
2. Always do more, not less–and teach your children to go the extra mile while doing this
3. Consider the non-book learning as long as it is true training including audio, video, hands on, etc. (again, not routine, like regular daily chores or skills that are already full developed like making breakfast, etc.)
4. Be consistent. Either count time or count books or count classes, etc. Or count field trips all the time or do not count field trips
5. Keep your system simple–just a simple calendar marking system or tick mark/running day total in your daytimer, etc.
6. Be excited for each day that you complete!