13 August, 2010

Getting a Jump-Start

I do not have it figured out yet. This whole business of educating my kids, I mean. For us, it has been trial and error. Lots of trying. Lots of erring. On my part mostly. But, don't get me wrong. There has been loads of good stuff too.

We have unschooled. We have home-schooled. We have French-schooled. We have public community-schooled. The means of the education have all been different, but one thing has been a constant (source of irritation).

It's all of that reminding, er downright NAGGING that I have been doing. And all of that  procrastinating the kids have been doing. It goes something like this:

O.K It's time to do your ......
Groan. Sigh. Groan. 
Get out your ....
Moan. Sigh. Moan.

It is exhausting and I am getting exhausted just thinking about it as we approach the new school year. So, I am trying something new. Each day, I will write down a list of five tasks that I really want the kids to complete that day. 

Now, I do realize that this does not sound like a very new idea at all. In fact, when I was a kid we called it "seat work" (a list of tasks written on the chalkboard at school that we were supposed to do before our actual schoolwork began).

Well, I am taking the idea of "seat work" and tricking it out a little bit. First, I am giving it a new name. Jump-Start. Why do we have to do it? Because it gets our brains going. Kind of like "jump-starting" a car battery.

Next, I am giving the kids some choices. (At least, I want it to appear that way) For example, my eight year old is learning her multiplication tables right now. She must memorize these, but it doesn't really matter in which order she does this. So, on the daily list I will put:
Write down any multiplication table. (Rather than choosing it for her)

Last, I am adding only those important tasks to the list that I would be reminding them to do anyway. For example, each of my girls are learning to play an instrument. Each week, they have a lesson with a private instructor. Daily practice is required. If the kids don't practice, I am wasting money. And I can't stand doing that. So on the list, I will put: Play 1 song on your instrument 5 times.

Our first Jumpstart list looks like this:

  1. Read a Scripture verse or a poem out loud.
  2. Write 1 multiplication table.
  3. Read 1 chapter out of any book.
  4. Sketch something.
  5. Play 1 song on your instrument 5 times.
Now, I just need a better way to remind the kids to brush their teeth.

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