Since our school year officially got started last week - at least in a record-keeping sense - I thought the timing was great! Here's our list.
1. It's our first full year of homeschooling.Yes, the thing I'm most excited about in our first full year of homeschooling is that it's our first full year of homeschooling. That means that the entire year is ours and not under someone else's expectations.
2. Our "kick-off" trip to Washington, D.C.We leave Monday for four days in Washington, D.C., where we'll be visiting some of the Smithsonian museums (including the National Museum of the American Indian), the National Geographic Museum and maybe the International Spy Museum.
Talk about a "school trip" - and it's all stuff that Sarah WANTS to do, and things she'll really get absorbed in. She's not the stereotypical field-tripper who rushes through the museum to get to the gift shop, though she does enjoy a good gift shop!
3. A chance to prove that Sarah's success is a long-term thing.The end of sixth grade went quite well, all things considered. At our appointment with Sarah's counselor earlier this week, he even commented to her how much happier and more enthusiastic she seems since we began homeschooling. We got her portfolio back from the school district, and the counselor was also very complimentary of her great work!
The thing is, I feel like some people might be attributing Sarah's success to the novelty of the situation. I don't believe that for a minute - I believe Sarah is a success, no matter what - but making this coming year a success will help us demonstrate that even more.
4. Chances for my husband to make history exciting for Sarah.Chris is much more of a history buff than I am - and his collection of older used books and ephemera and, honestly, his general knowledge is always a huge resource.
This was Chris's first choice for something to add to today's list, and I wholeheartedly agree. If Sarah gets interested in something, whether that's Indians or the Titanic or Antarctica or the moon landing, Chris knows everything from what movies are a great look at the subject to what books would be awesome to read to places we can go on trips to learn more - and he always has some neat book or paper that ties in, too!
That's interest-led learning at its best!
5. Field trips!This was another Chris suggestion, and I second it with much enthusiasm. Of course, just about every day is a "field trip" for us somewhere, but in addition to all our regular haunts, like local antique stores and used book stores, we love taking daylong drives to new and different places too - and now we can take Sarah!
6. Reading aloud.We've read aloud to Sarah off and on for her whole life - but in the past three or four months, it's become something that happens pretty much every night.
As a student, I hated reading aloud, and I hated being read to, except by my mom. I'm a fast reader, and it just felt so... slow. Now, I appreciate exactly that. I like taking the time to do the voices, to let the words sink in, not just for Sarah but for me as well.
And I especially love that I can introduce my favorite childhood books to Sarah that way - and spark her interest in titles she probably wouldn't choose on her own. (And she's done the same in reverse, too!)
7. Digging out some fresh "school supplies."We don't "do school" at all. None of us write papers or take quizzes or keep journals (unless this blog counts). But Sarah likes a nice, new notebook and set of pens as much as the next gal, and her office-supply-junkie mother is GLAD to oblige. I have to stay out of Staples and Office Max, though, because I have - and I'm not kidding you - more than 25 unused spiral notebooks, 10 binders, 30+ folders and enough No. 2 pencils for an entire middle school in my storage cabinet.
Maybe if I can get Sarah to use 'em up, we can hit the Christmas sales...?
8. A clean slate for scrapbooking and keeping up with our photos.I love to scrapbook, and Sarah enjoys it too. But we are almost always "behind," just because of the sheer volume of our pictures. As of this exact moment, I have every digital photo off the camera and into my Memory Manager program (where I store them), which is great. They're not scrapbooked, but our portfolio covers many of the highlights, so the official family 2012 scrapbook should be somewhat less overwhelming.
My plan for the rest of this calendar year is to work hard at keeping the photos edited down and digitally filed as we go, and to try to use some of our "art" time for Sarah and I to actually work on our albums!
9. An extra "half-student."In the category of "things that just seem to happen, and I just trust it'll all work out," one of Sarah's good friends in our neighborhood, Kayla, is now registered to do cyberschool in the fall. Kayla is a grade ahead of Sarah, more or less, and had some problems of her own at the school Sarah formerly attended, so when she found out Sarah was being homeschooled, she thought I could just homeschool her too. PA law doesn't exactly allow that, so I mentioned cyberschool as a possible alternative.
Well, Kayla's mom works during the day most days, and they don't have home internet, so I adopted the philosophy my mom always had when I was a kid: "The more, the merrier." It looks like Kayla will be coming to our place to do her cyberschool lessons probably about three days a week.
While I'm nervous about having two kids doing two DRASTICALLY different things - Kayla's work so formal, and Sarah's so unstructured - I have hope that this will be good for both of them!
10. Really engaging with my daughter every day.This has to be the very best thing about homeschooling so far - I'm having more and more times where I feel like Sarah and I are really connecting, person to person. I can't wait for that to happen even more this year, as she continues to mature and I continue to find my groove with working at home!
We're also linking up today to Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings. Whether you're sharing your Top 10 questions people ask you, or a Top Ten list on any other topic, I'd love for you to link up and to check out the other blogs that have, too! And don't forget to check out my previous posts in this series if you missed them, on our 10 unschooling and homeschooling must-haves, 10 of Sarah's "likes" about homeschooling, 10 reasons we chose our unschooling style, 10 questions people ask about our family and 10 pieces of advice that helped us start homeschooling.