"Back to school" is a debatable issue here ... we haven't really 'done' school for months, yet the kids have still been learning plenty. On the other hand, 'basic skills' seem to have slipped during this time. I guess it would all balance out in the end, but perhaps they're due for a tune up, equally to reassure me and to give them a kick-start. The tide is rising.
I've declared tomorrow the start of our new school year. This distinction is mainly for the benefit of Miss 4, who is delighted to be 'starting Kindergarten' like some of her friends this year. Mr 5 says he's feeling great about home school. I hope we'll have a lot of fun learning. I don't think much of it will look like school. In fact I feel like I'm strapped into one of those skyward-facing theme park rides, waiting to be catapulted into space. This year's going to be a fast ride!
As always, balance is the key. Play based learning will be important to us this year, regardless of whether the subject matter is basic grammar or chemistry. As the kids have played freely during their holidays, I've listened in wonder to the vocabulary used in games of hospitals, shops and travels ... I think the way we play 'schools' will satisfy me (and others) that we're 'doing enough' academically ...
* Let's pretend we're going on a holiday, and set an itinerary, make passports, write a travel journal.
* Let's go to medical school and read some books about anatomy and health.
* Let's make a bright red post-box. And a mail sorting system, for all the envelopes filled recently!
* Let's learn more about money, a very popular subject in play and reality.
Tomorrow we'll play word games with magnetic letters. I'll wait and see which writing option matches the mood (texta tracing pages, handwriting books, mini-whiteboards, story writing books, phonics texts, letter/book/card writing). I'll probably also set the kids up at the computer this week and let them type, as their handwriting doesn't seem likely to match their thinking any time soon :)
The kids have asked for help in reading. I'm glad the motivation is coming from them again. Mr 5 especially wants to be able to read his books about diggers and cranes etc. He's a heart-reader ... by that I mean he knows words which mean something to him. He's forgotten some sight words and phonics, but should pick it up again pretty quickly. Miss 4 is so sweet in her enthusiasm to read books to me, her dolls, teddies, her brother etc. I love how she switches from reading words to improvising, and back to reading again. I think she'll find it easier to become fluent because she's less worried about getting each word right, but retains the meaning.
For our first maths lesson of the year, we'll do Matchbox Mathematics, which is a fun way of saying we'll gather all the toy cars of that size, group and graph them as the kids see fit, and talk about what we notice. Money will be another favourite focus this week.
Both kids have been doing a lot of painting recently, so that might continue. Or we have a papier mache project to finish, and some great cardboard boxes to build something with. Add in swimming lessons, morning tea at a play cafe, and an afternoon at a friend's house. It looks like being a fun week!
Now I'd better get some sleep so I can tackle it!