Jul 6, 2012

First Week of Homeschool with Kolbe Academy, SY 2013-2012

Today ends the first week of our second school year with Kolbe Academy. Josh is in second grade while Bea just entered kindergarten.

Our previous school year actually ended less than two months ago, in the third week of May, but we decided to start this school year early so that we'll have our routine set by the time I give birth to my fourth student a few months from now.

In case you're wondering, here's our routine:

1. After lunch (whatever time that may be), Josh and Bea 
  • wash their plates, 
  • clear up the living room, 
  • set up their little plastic chairs around the center table, (the living room is our classroom)
  • put Mommy's chair at the "head" of the table, 
  • brush their teeth, 
  • take a bath, and 
  • get dressed for school.
We have no uniform (though some homeschooling families do).

2. We start with a prayer. This week, we're doing the Our Father in Filipino. When they've mastered that, we'll move to other Catholic prayers, all in Filipino. (Last year, we did them in Latin, but I've realized the kids need to learn them in Filipino too, so we are rectifying that lack of insight this year.)

3. We sing the national anthem. We don't have a flag yet, but we'll get a small one soon so that the kids will learn that they have to face it.

4. We recite the Pledge of Allegiance (Panatang Makabayan). (I miss the original version.)

5. We start our class. The kids don't use school bags; we keep all our school stuff -- books, pencils, glue, etc. -- in a big box that we call "the school box." It sits an arm's reach away from our school table, known the rest of the day as the center table.

6. After one hour, we have recess. This consists of a cup of Milo for the students and a mug of coffee for the teacher. Bea's school day officially ends at this point, but if she wants to extend (she sometimes does), that's fine.

7. Josh has one more hour of class. Josh's school day lasts two hours. This is enough time when you're teaching a small class. As a matter of fact, we finished last year's curriculum earlier than expected, and Josh was still able to master his lessons pretty well, as evidenced by the results of his exams, provided by Kolbe Academy. (Forgive the apparent motherly pride; it is all in the interest of complete and honest reporting.)

8. The students scatter off. And the school day is done.

Two heads are better than one

One thing I've realized is that it's easier on the teacher and the student when there are more students in the class. Last year, when Josh was my sole pupil, I was always breathing down his neck when he did his exercises. There were times he got so tense, he actually broke down and cried. There were times I got so tense, I had to walk out of the class to stop myself from hitting him.

I'm not proud of it, but it's the sad truth. One of my friends actually suggested I take Prozac before class.

Now, with Bea around, Mommy's attention is divided, so her overly high expectations are also divided, and the pressure on each pupil is halved compared to last year. Josh is visibly less tense. Mommy is no longer a monster teacher. Bea actually thinks school is fun.

Game plan

Our goal is to complete Kolbe Academy's curriculum as soon as possible so that the kids can be free to focus on their true interests the rest of the school year.

To avoid repeating lessons that the kids have already mastered, we started the school year with a pretest. This way, I know which lessons I can safely skip without sacrificing my students' performance when exam time comes. 

For instance, in Josh's case, I found during the pretest that he has already mastered the entire Phonics curriculum for the first quarter. So we're skipping the first quarter lessons and doing second quarter lessons instead.

At the end of the school year, Josh will be taking an exam from the Center for Educational Measurement Inc. (CEM), in addition to Kolbe's exams, to help Josh become familiar with formal testing environments. It is also to reassure Mommy and the grandparents that Josh is learning everything he needs to learn for his grade level. (Daddy's faith in Mommy's teaching skills seems solid.)

Bea will not be taking such exam yet because CEM only offers such tests for grade 2 and up.

If you want to know more about homeschooling under Kolbe Academy, don't hesitate to ask by leaving a comment below!

The best teacher for our kids is the one who loves them most.

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