Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School

Today is our first day of school enrolled in Michigan Connections Academy. Grandma and Grandmpa Veramay arrived at our house last night and plan to visit for a few days, so Autumn and I woke up extra early to start our school work so that we would have time to play. It turns out that today is a bit dreary and humid, so right now the girls are playing Scrabble with Grandma and Grandmpa at the dining room table instead of swimming at the beach like we anticipated. But, waking up early has still really paid off.

Autumn started working on her school assignments at 5:30 a.m. and was done with 90% of them by 10a.m. She still has an assessment to complete in math, and she needs to rewrite a science journal entry due to spelling mistakes, but other than that she is done for the day if she wants to be. We really liked that our first school day with MICA wasn't like a first day at a brick and mortar school. We got to dive right into our lessons and start working on assignments without wasting time on covering procedures, rules, introductions etc.

In preparation for our first day we enjoyed reading a few picture books about going to school Our number one pick was:

First Day Jitters, by: Julie Danneberg

We thought this was a great book to read before the first day of school because it reminded us that starting back into the school schedule can be a challenge to everyone.....including adults, and even teachers! We highly recommend it.

So, far our first day of school is going smoothly. We hope you and your family are enjoying your first day back to school, and that many more successful days will follow this one.



  1. Hello! I am happy to have found your blog! We are a homeschool family that lives in Minnesota and I just stumbled upon your YouTube videos after looking for reviews in connections academy. Could you tell me how your expire cel has been or was? Your last post said you were going too give it another month and decide if it was a fit.
    I love your homeschool and your kids are so precious!

    1. Hi Madalyn,

      Thanks for your comments. We wound up making it through the entire year with Connections. (Autumn was proud she didn't quit) This year we reverted back to what we were doing before, which we have finally decided we should label "joy based learning through literature." There were things we liked about Connections and things we didn't like and the the things we didn't like outweighed the things we liked.
      What we liked:
      1. The free textbooks, computer and supplies
      2. The knowledge that we could wake up in the morning and all the assignments and work would be ready to go.
      3. The feeling that we knew we were "keeping up"
      4. Autumn took on more responsibility for meeting deadlines and communicating.

      What we didn't like:
      1. The busy work, or the lack of control over curriculum...Autumn still had to do the work even if I knew she wasn't learning anything from it or it was really boring or not fun,...which led to plenty of battles with her we hadn't had to fight before. Therefore, less peace and happiness in the home. I noticed a huge shift in our attitude towards learning and school. It really is inviting some foreign entity into your home and allowing them to choose what you study and do every day.
      3. The "teachers" don't actually teach like I imagined they would. Instead it feels like they "police." You still will actually do 99% of any teaching needed...So the work load I imagined would be lessened for me, wasn't. There was no face time, skype, or videos when Autumn communicated with anyone from the school, so it felt VERY LONELY. Impossible to make any real HUMAN connections that feel meaningful.
      4. The time commitment in front of the computer. Autumn took WAY longer to get all her work done for the day and she sat inactive for longer periods of time in front of the screen. She didn't like that.
      5. Connections didn't require creativity...I required Autumn to be creative with all of her assignments, but she could have gotten by with much much less. I think if we had stayed with Connections we would have gotten tired of adding extra work to our slate and would have fallen into the trap of just doing it....
      6. By the end of the year I could see Autumn was starting to approach projects with the mentality of "Let me just get it done and get the grade." Instead of "what can I learn from this..." When the assignments are provided by somebody else it seems to zap all of the excitement out of it and I saw the reaction go from "I want to! to "Why do I have to???"
      7. Grades: Right now we "study until we master it" But since there were always new assignments and tests, (and she was never allowed to redo a test or assignment) She advanced through work with less true knowledge. Our theory is you should always have an "A" because you shouldn't move on until you have mastered something. But that kind of work couldn't happen with Connections. I saw the grading system become a depressant for Autumn instead of a motivator, because she realized that once she got a grade she couldn't change it even if she was really willing to, She said it felt "pointless," and she felt "pressure" as if every thing she did was a test.

  2. In the end we learned that letting someone else choose what we will study and learn in our house is a real joy killer, And, one of the main purposes we are homeschooling is because we want our kids to discover and tell/show us what they are truly interested in and find great happiness from their freedom to be curious and creative etc.

    I hope this helps you. Homeschooling is such a learning experience for our entire family. What didn't work for us might be amazing for you. So, if you are truly curious about the school go for it and give it a try. You can always withdraw if it isn't working. Even though it wasn't the best experience for us our family we still learned a ton that year, so it wasn't like it was a complete loss. Don't be afraid to try it if you feel pulled towards it. Just come up with a plan for what you will do if you don't like it. Will you stick it out through the year, or withdraw and start a different curriculum? How long will you give it before you to decide to withdraw, etc?

    Good Luck! I would like to hear what you decide... and thank-you so much for visiting our blog!



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