Friday, January 10, 2014

Incentives & Rewards

Sooo... yeah.  I used to have a hard time with the whole behavioral chart thing they do in classrooms. I just don't like labeling behavior or having kids get put into the "good" and "bad" roles. I remember in school, those labels stuck.  I was a goody two shoes, except for the excessive talking :), and even when I would do something wrong in later years, teachers would be kind to me about it... I had been labeled "good" and so any acting out was seen as an anomaly.  Likewise, the "bad" kids -- the ones who ate glue in 1st grade or came to school in those early years with a chip on their shoulder -- were labeled as such and their actions were not viewed in a favorable light.  Even as a child, I didn't think that seemed fair.

Fast forward a few years (or um... decades!) and my daughter is in school.  And I could see why the teachers had to implement some sort of behavioral system. 30 kids + lots of testing + standards that must be met + a few behavioral issues in each classroom = a need for classroom management. I totally understand.  Thankfully, Bug's teachers were fantastic at implementing their systems in a fair and kind way.  They helped the kids learn which behaviors were acceptable and which weren't.  They gave them a chance to fix their behavior. They talked them through remedies. I actually learned a lot from the way they handled these situations.

And now, at home... yeah. I have actually started a reward system for the girls.  Each week, if they both have a good attitude and do their very best at school, they will get something special on Friday. And yes, I am putting smiley faces or frowning faces up on the dry erase board to keep track of the great and not-so-great moments. I'm buying into the whole enchilada.  This week, it's a trip to the frozen yogurt shop down the street.  I'm rationalizing it to myself that after a week of hard work, everyone deserves something special right? :) When they get older and have jobs, it will probably be happy hour.  But for now, yogurt and extra long recess or a trip to the zoo will suffice.  And I promise to not use the words "good" or "bad" through this process. :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Happy New Year!!!

We started school again yesterday after a nice looooong winter break and a 9-day trek to California.  Surprisingly, we dove back in with minimal drama. :)

After spending some time pondering our progress thus far and how I want to proceed, I decided on something a little different for 2014.  We are going to do 6-week sessions with 1-week breaks in between.  We will do this up until Thanksgiving (with the last two sessions being 5 weeks instead), and then take a break until January.

I also feel like we have gotten over the initial homeschooling humps of finding the right curriculum, figuring out what daily rhythm works best, and settling into our routine.  So now I want to get down to one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool my kids --- exploring the world.  I want them to see everything as a learning opportunity, and to be excited by finding new things.  Lulu is almost 4 now and on board with both of those ideas.  Our trip to CA over break was a great starting point for 2014 and this endeavor.  We talked about all we had learned while studying California, and got to see some of the landmarks too.  Both girls had a blast :)

Here is what we are doing for Session 1:

Language Arts - finishing up All About Spelling Level 1 and starting Level 2; continuing with the Houghton Mifflin books (poetry and nature walk themes this session); and finishing up Growing With Grammar Level 1

Math - continuing with Horizons 2nd Grade book

Social Studies - Midwest states

Science - Rocks & Minerals around the USA / Plants

Extras - daily piano practice (Bug started lessons over the holidays), Van Gogh, and Handel -- and continuing with the weekly PE classes and monthly Science Club --- I also got a typing program and we received a harmonica lesson book, so those things may enter the rotation as well.

Lulu will be continuing with her Letter of the Week program for the first two sessions, and then will start a K4 curriculum in April.

That's it here! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season :)