Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Soft" Opening


Lego creations by Morgan and Duncan

 I used to be in retail management, before I became a stay at home Mom. We have this concept in retail called the "soft" opening. It's when a new store quietly opens it's doors a few days before the much publicized "grand" opening. The grand opening is usually nuts! It happens traditionally on a weekend, often a holiday weekend. It is advertized everywhere and there can be lines of people literally pounding on the door for the store to open. That type of crowd plus brand new, barely trained employees plus a new location and brand new equipment is a recipe for chaos. So, the soft opening was developed. It gives employees a chance to get used to the new routine and environment. It gives management a chance to work out any bugs. And gives everyone a chance to make needed changes before the full on onslaught of opening day.





 Why am I talking about retail openings? Because I decided to use the soft opening technique for our homeschool this year. Reality is that I have been so busy with Owen's new diet and house issues that I haven't done much (O.K., hardly any) planning and organizing for our school year. Planning isn't actually too hard this year since we are very relaxed homeschoolers anyway. No one is doing anything drastically new and different from what either they did last year (except Devon who is taking college classes) or what their older siblings have done before. We don't have strict lesson plans for each year with a certain number of weeks allotted to certain studies.  I choose curriculum for basic subjects based on which books suit our goals and each child's personality and we kind of wing it on other subjects. I usually buy reusable materials over consumables because I know things will get used again and I don't like waste. Over the years we've built up quite a collection of materials, so I really only need to purchase core curriculum for the oldest child and maybe a few workbooks for the little ones (I do like workbooks for beginning writers). We also don't worry too much about grade level and "keeping up" since I have very strong opinions about grade levels and they aren't good opinions (maybe another post about that soon). Generally, I start a child in a book and when they finish it they start the next in the series. This year most of the kids are already in the middle of books, so we just have to actually get back into the habit of doing stuff everyday, not just when we feel like it.

 We used to homeschool year around and take extended time off for holidays and vacations, but since Owen was born I've needed to take Summers off. I've found that I need that time to recharge and just have fun with the kids. The last few years I have been pretty strict about starting school the day after Labor Day. This year I  had a basic plan for academics, but our schedule has been all over the place as we've been getting used to the demands of making Owen's ketogenic diet. I really didn't feel ready to start school. I also knew that I probably wouldn't feel ready to start next week or the week after either, so I just needed to do it. Hence the "soft "opening. It takes the pressure off. We're not "really" doing school. We're just easing into it and working out the bugs for a week or two.  No pressure! If something isn't working, we can change it. We're starting with the basics and adding other things in as (or if) we can.





 So far our days are going like this:
 9:00 am last call for wake up ( we tend to be night owls around here)
 9:00- 9:30 personal care for kids and breakfast
 9:30- 10:00 chores
10:00- 10:45 older  kids work independently, little kids watch educational video, Mom gets personal care/ chore time
10:45- 12:00 group homeschool (history, science, logic)
12:00- 1:00 lunch
1:00 - whenever  Brenna nap, Little kids work with Mom, big kids work independently
3:00  Owen's meal and snack for everyone else followed by finishing schoolwork if needed, free time or read aloud
 5:30 start dinner
 8:00 chores and begin bedtime routine

 Now keep in mind that I am schedule phobic, so this is loosely based. I also don't have specific lesson plans about how much schoolwork must be done each day. When I say we finish up after snack if needed that means if we didn't get anything done earlier due to whatever crisis may have occurred ( today Brenna played glitter, although it didn't take long to clean up, it could have derailed us) or if we need to finish up an experiment or if I promised Morgan I'd help her with something and didn't get to it. After snack is also when we might go to the park or something fun and educational.

 I plan to be full on with our routine(I prefer that to the word schedule) sometime next week, but this week is a NO PRESSURE week.




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