When you are interested in homeschooling and would love some direction! 

We are wrapping up our 3rd year of homeschooling. What a happy thing to celebrate! It calls for some doughnuts and maybe an Anderson family collective cannonball into the pool. 

I really can’t believe we are still living life this way. It’s equal parts crazy and amazing. I really genuinely love it despite it taking some grit here and there. I treasure my time with my kids, and I am so grateful I have the freedoms to teach them at home. 

 

I’ve had quite a few people reach out to me recently about homeschooling, so today I’m sharing a few things that will be helpful if you (or someone you know) is curious about homeschooling and would love to know more. 

Pull up your sleeves and pour some coffee or tea. Let’s dig in.

  1. Start with why.  I promise there is more than enough information you could ever want about how to homeschool and what to teach. What I urge you to do first though is to simply do a brain dump on why you are interested. Do it on paper or type it up. You might surprise yourself with your reasons. I keep my list on my computer and review it each year. It has been immensely valuable.
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       Here are just some ways that your list of reasons can help:

          + guide you in picking out curriculum 

          + help structure your days to reflect values

          + unite you and your spouse in your mission

          + provide peace & resolve when things get tough (and they will)

          + kickstart your confidence 

2.  Check your legal requirements.  A simple Google search will help you navigate these requirements. Some examples of requirements include: compulsory school age, school hours and days needed, documentation specifics, testing or evaluation methods, etc. 

Once you review them, call and ask the appropriate representatives for clarification and assurance you’ve got all your bases covered. You should feel very clear about these legal requirements, so if you don’t, definitely ask. People love to help, so chat around until you’ve got them down.

3. Get acquainted with different types of homeschooling. Now that you are aware of the absolute basic requirements from your state, branch out your understanding of how it all works. Classical. Traditional. Unschooling. Charlotte Mason. Jefferson. Montessori. Eclectic. Waldorf. Heck, maybe you’ll find some I’ve never even heard of. The homeschooling movement is huge and growing all the time. 

You may not (we definitely don’t) fall exactly into one category. You don’t need to. But you should know a little bit about different methods or styles so you know what’s out there. We consider ourselves classical/eclectic homeschoolers. Even then, I’m influenced greatly by Charlotte Mason and teach more that way each year. 

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4. Assess your situation.  

You’ve got a basic idea of how different groups design their homeschool whether it be a boxed curriculum or a Charlotte Mason approach that strictly follows the schedule provided on Ambleside Online. But before you pull the trigger on buying stuff, you’ll want to take one more look at yourself, your kids, and your home. 

    + What is your temperament? 

    + What sort of environment do you thrive in? How about your kids? 

    + What motivates you most? And them? 

    + What sort of set-up would ensure things actually get done? (That one is very important). 

    + What do you anticipate will be some of your greatest challenges? (Creative solutions?)

    + What are your strengths & how could you make those work for you for the best possible outcome? 

    + What are you already doing well, and what is the next thing you need to keep building on that? 

    + Alternatively, what is not going well (either at home or current education setting), and what is the next thing you need in order to amend that? 

    + What kind of space would you like your school area to look like and how would you like it to function? What will it realistically look like? 

    + What kind of money are you working with? Budget time! 

Address each of these thoroughly. With a little research, some creativity and some grit, you can create a vision and execute on it. It’s very important to remember that each home is unique. Someone might just glow and glow about a certain book or program or resource, but if it isn’t a good fit for you and your kids, it probably won’t lift off the ground for you. 

5. Connect with others, read books, and listen to podcasts. 

It’s time to cast your net for great ideas and fantastic stuff. 

Facebook groups abound for homeschoolers and for just about every type of niche you can imagine. You can always visit local homeschool groups in person as well. And chatting with a homeschool mom there or over the phone can be incredibly helpful. I’ve done it & highly recommend it. They will help you connect with local resources and programs, give helpful tips you didn’t even know you needed, and happily answer any questions you’ve got. I promise. 

Some helpful podcasts: Wild + Free, Schole Sisters, The Homeschool Solutions Show, Brave Writer, The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, The Morning Basket, A Delectable Education, and The Mason Jar. 

Some helpful books: The Well-Trained Mind (I’ve used this for years), Home Learning Year by Year (I peak at this a few times every year), Teaching in your Tiara (great for getting started), For the Children’s Sake (pure gold) Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace (Sarah also leads the Read Aloud Revival podcast—great stuff), How Children Learn (this shifted by educational philosophy and outlook dramatically), and then there’s the whole Charlotte Mason series as well. 

6. Purchase curriculum. 

 

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A few basic tips about curriculum or purchasing resources that I feel strongly about:

  • Nothing is perfect but a lot of good, great, or almost perfect resources can shine with the creativity and positivity of an enthusiastic and faithful teacher.  Have peace that you will be able to teach your child well. Your enjoyment of learning, your charisma, leadership, etc. will be the most powerful tool you’ve got. Be wary of switching resources at the slightest hiccup or frustration. It can be so tempting to associate a purchase or signing up for something as the necessary means to succeed. But really, homeschooling is primarily a lot of steady dedication. And a lot of times that can mean being resourceful with what you’ve got even when it’s not shiny, new, or noteworthy. 

 

  • However, if you have the money and are intentional about it, supplementing your schooling in smart ways can be quite life-giving! I have seen this in small ways (buying a couple workbooks for the twins so that they would sit and have structured time in order for me to teach Thomas) and in big ones (this year, purchasing lots of supplemental history reads so they would be here and I wouldn’t have to hunt them down at the library every couple weeks—-such a blessing!). Were these things absolute must have, can’t-do-school-without-them needs? No. But they also weren’t feverish, frantic, or from a place of fear. Simply put, they made my job easier & I’m so glad I’ve splurged here or there for some things to make what we do more enjoyable, peaceful, efficient, etc. 

 

  • You can buy things used, so remember this if things are adding up quickly and your budget needs some breathing room.

 

  • Check out reviews on YouTube. You’ll want to be careful of ads, sponsorships, etc., but if you can weed through that, you can often find some helpful demonstrations, explanations of how homeschools actually put the resources to use which will make you more confident in your purchases. 

 

7. Dive in.  

Execute. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat. (x about a billion.)

You’ve got this! 

 

If you have any questions about anything I’ve mentioned in this post or anything I’ve failed to include, or about anything else related to homeschooling or how we do it, let me know! I hope this was helpful. Homeschooling can be an intimidating undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be an experience that leads to lots of joy and success. I hope I can be of some assistance, so do not hesitate to message me or comment below. 

 

~Ashley

Back to School

I absolutely love this time of year. Summer is losing a bit of its edge, routine is once again rosy and bright, and there’s a bouquet of sharpened pencils sitting on my wine cabinet. 

We started school last week. We’re in our 2nd year of homeschool, and the presence of that 1st year homeschool badge was felt—starting this time was so smooth and easy. Like butter, baby. 

Hardest part of our 1st day right here. Back to school photos to ward off the mom guilt. So easy, right? (They are waving at dogs. Always with the dogs.)

I’m really grateful for our summer. It was a little bit of everything. Bubbles and lightning bugs in the backyard. Watching underwear-clad boys chase each other and fart around with dirt piles. Visits with family and trips out for fun away from home too. Rest for all of us. Play for al of us. Only 1 very simple ER trip but mostly a chill, incident-free summer.  All in all, it was a true swing to the left of everything the school year was & I think that’s exactly what our family needed.

But now we’re back and I’m happy again to see the order and structure, stacks of library books around the house, and three handsome boys sitting around our table doing math and scribbling on the faces of animals (twins). 

Emerick was sick on our 1st day. Actually the whole 24 hours preceding our 1st day involved a lot of bodily fluid clean-up and constant running of the washing machine of which I've already, mostly, blocked out of my memory. 

Emerick was sick on our 1st day. Actually the whole 24 hours preceding our 1st day involved a lot of bodily fluid clean-up and constant running of the washing machine of which I've already, mostly, blocked out of my memory. 

We’ve joined a co-op. It’s called Catholic Schoolhouse & we’ll meet with them one half day each week. I’m excited to be plugged into a community, for the kids to have a bit more formality as well as hands-on activities in art and science (pulling out “all the things” for projects is not my forte), and for me to lead a group of older kids as a “tutor” as well.  I was told by one of the moms with several kids that her clan already reported to her post-open house that “That Thomas Anderson is NOT SHY AT ALL.” 

Last year the twins were too young, active, and averse to speak English any more than they were Klingon…to feast at the table of homeschooling. So it was that Thomas and I would be discussing a poem and the twins were kicking down block towers. Or Thomas and I would be tackling math problems and the twins were jumping off the fireplace while yelling. And Thomas and I would be studying whales while the twins were trying in earnest to be lions.  All this said, a lot can change in a year. And it did. And now the twins, at 3, are happy to be quiet for swaths of time, speak more English than twinese (barely), and sit at the table for good chunks of time pretending to be students. It’s great. What a world of difference! 

One of the most wonderful things about falling apart is that you rise stronger. You look back and say, “not that. ever again.” I’ve fallen down so many times since becoming momma. And each time it’s so damn ugly. Falling apart in a mental sense. Falling apart trying to do it all. Falling apart because toys multiplying under my feet.  But all the falling apart is so beautiful because it so viscerally breaks something old to make way for something new. 

This year I feel so new. More new than a shiny notebook and sharp pencils. I feel new because I’ve taken excellent care of my body all summer. I feel new because last year I kinda broke, crushed from the weight of running frantic circles around expectations as a mom and wife. I’m in a really wonderful space right now where I’m comfortable being in my skin, both the literal and figurative. I own that I’m not enough just as I own my job well done.  Something has changed in me deeply. I feel powerful and energetic and capable of magically beautiful things. I feel in charge and decisive and exactly where I am supposed to be. I’m in a very good, calm, joyful place. And I’m happy this is where our year kicks off because a happy, healthy mom is what every child deserves, homeschooled or not. 

What else? There are so many things to say! 

But I’ll end here. Wherever you are and whomever you are, I hope you are enjoying a new start too.  It’s wonderful at these starting lines to remember where we were a year ago. I have to laugh and put my hand over my heart to think of how small my thinking can be, where I was a year ago and what little foresight I had for knowing that all would be okay. We grow and learn and love much more in a year than we think we will. And that’s why we should whole-heartedly, delightedly embrace this fresh start. It’s thrilling to think there’s much, much more than even our eager, ready to run selves can imagine. Isn’t that just the most wonderful thing?

* I’ve missed blogging. I’ve missed you. That’s all. 

**Curriculum post soon if you're into that sort of thing. 

Looking Back / Looking Forward: Our Homeschool

Well, helllllooooo blogging break. That happened accidentally like my 5 pound weight gain this past winter. Annnd here we go. 

It’s 4:00 am and I can’t get back to sleep. I thought I would come out here to my big comfy chair in the living room to type and tell you a bit about our homeschooling situation.   I feel like sharing that cup of tea with you. 

We are wrapping up our 1st year of homeschool.  This week I’ve been gathering our resources and making plans for next year. The UPS crew have showered us with goodies to look through, organize, and assemble. It’s been fun seeing everything so crisp and new and just a lot more than what we had last year because 1st grade is more and … we made it!

When we decided on giving homeschooling a whirl, it was for lots of great reasons but mostly just a natural progression of already teaching and learning (phonics) here just because we could and because Thomas was eager.  We are still very much on that path of continuing on with a thing that is so much fun because we get to go at our own pace and in our own way. 

There is a truth that I think is not unique to us in that once you’ve entered into homeschooling, you (can) find yourself in a place where you are more nervous about walking away than staying put.  There are things that would pain me now for Thomas to miss. The liberty, luxury, and time we have to read anything we want and discuss it (or not discuss it) in any way we want is at the top of the list, but there are a few other small ones as well.

But let me get very real about something before I go all happy happy homeschooling is heaven on you.  Homeschooling ONE child while TWO toddlers sit / run / jump / laugh / tickle / play fight / destroy in a toddler-y fashion just feet away is no small thing.  We got their diagnosis of being mild hemophiliacs just weeks before our official schooling began and while their condition isn’t THAT big of a deal I look back now and have such tender feelings for a woman (1 year ago me!) who was trying her best but almost constantly two breaths away from heart failure (my blood pressure was so freaking high worrying about those boys hurting themselves all the time because they are crazy, or crazy because they’ve got a big brother to rally them, and having toddler twins with hemophilia was just that much crazier) .  There were moments where Thomas and I were being studious at the table and A & E were in front of us being fun little tornadoes of energy in the most ridiculous of contrast to us with books open and considering questions … lots of moments like that. I just have to laugh at all of it now. 

I’m glad we are in a better place now and even moreso that I’m truly tired of playing any part as mom or wife. White flag right here. Done with running in fear or feeling like a poser.  Our homeschooling, my mothering, my romance with my husband, my home—-I want it all to be honest.  So crisply, drink-it-all-in honest. 

And in that honesty, Alistair & Emerick need a bit of catching up.  They have taken their sweet time learning to speak English.  They are missing a whole gamut of learning that we couldn’t get to without that speech in place.  I’m so crazy excited to actually hear their progress and know for sure and not just in theory that every little bit of one-on-one time and reading books and singing songs is bearing fruit. I have hope that this will be the year (they turn 3 next month) where we see a ton of progress.  

They are smart little boys. Eager to help and solve problems, very mechanical and incredibly physically able. I love watching them draw and color. They have an interest in it at 2 that is so curious to me. I’m excited to see them take off this year! 

I’m not doing any official program with them, but I do have a list of lots of little tidbits I want them to pick up this year.  Reading is a huge focus with songs thrown in and one-on-one teaching here or there as I can manage.   We do a half an hour of reading picture books here every day and also a half an hour of read aloud of which they have usually missed due to their nap time but will get more and more of next year as we let the naps fade out of the picture…. let’s take a moment of silence for that loss… 

We won’t get to all the nitty gritty of Thomas’s curriculum just yet.  I’ll likely post about that closer to the start of the school year even though I’m tempted now because everything is in place. 

I do want our homeschool experience to expand a bit this year in two specific ways. #1. I want to put the boys to meaningful work often and purposefully & #2. I want for us to link arms in some sort of community As that takes form, I might write about that here.  

My goodness. What a post. I should have broken this up. I didn’t even get to talk about what did and didn’t happen this past year.  Ah. No time now. But I can sum it up with 1 huge and happy accomplishment that I could not be more proud of and that’s:

Thomas can read.  (Anything, everything—really, really truly read.)  Paul and I overheard him reading last Friday on the couch and it was so awesome. The fluency just blows me away.  

I’m so happy taking the phonics route that we did, having the very thorough instruction in The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading to make the way! It has been one of the most meaningful and happiest experiences to sit with Thomas for two years as he learned day by day how to read.  

And not just read. But read so well.  He has the toolset to read anything he could ever want.  That makes me so happy as his mom, to see a billion invisible doors open to him that over a lifetime he will be walking into because he knows how to read.  

Parallel to this has been that we haven't wavered in our commitment and enjoyment of our read aloud time. I have oodles and oodles of special memories reading to Thomas. We've read so many books together. It's so incredible. I'm excited to read even more this year!

And our kindergarten year was mostly that--lots and lots and lots of reading.  Yes, we practiced math every day, read hundreds of picture books, studied all sorts of science, and practiced our letters until they were very good—-but mostly it felt like sticking a landing.  It makes such a natural progression for where we take his schooling next, and I’m so excited for him!

If I had more to share (always), it will have to wait.  

Just had to pop in and tell you that we are cleaning out that homeschool binder and filling it back up with new goals and book lists, checklists and fresh paper.  We’ve stored away all the workbooks we completed and rotated new reads into our school basket so there's good stuff at arm's reach. 

We’ve got a summer bucket list and we intend to make this summer a great one! To have a ton of fun and return back to the books in a couple months with fresh eyes and renewed minds! 

Happy Friday, friends!

 

A Homeschooling Day in the Life

Since I'm technically only homeschooling a kindergartner (with the added bonus of toddler twins along for the ride), our days of school are a true split between intentional learning and a lot of play. I posted a day in the life with only photos last fall and the process of sharing what our days honest-to-goodness look like was a good reflection exercise. We don't get out enough, for starters. No worries. Going out in public is on my master project list. ;)

Jamie Martin from Simple Homeschooling is hosting a link-up of homeschooling day in the life posts this week. You can bet I'll be looking through that list for other mamas with twins. <wipes brow>. 

Let's dive in:


Monday, February 29th

5:30 My alarm goes off. Paul leaves to go work out. I set my timer and read for at least 20 minutes. I typically journal and read for close to an hour. I move to the kitchen and start breakfast at 6:30. 

7:30  By now, everyone has had breakfast and is dressed. We set the Time Timer for 30 minutes for all the boys to play together. When it goes off, it's our "morning time." The other cue that really sets the visual that school is about to start is that I move our school basket from one table in our sunroom to our dining room table.  

8:00 Our morning time starts with calendar, prayers, intentions & memory work every day. Then we move to one or two of our items on our loop schedule which currently includes saint study, art history, science, history, Aesop's fables, & Life of Fred. [I change the loop schedule as needed.]

I'm working to protect margin within our morning time. Even though it's time to get a good bulk of our work done, I let Thomas crack the occasional joke, ask questions, and have chats with me (he calls them little conversations and asks for them at bedtime too). 

When we finish our morning time work together, we move to independent work. Today, Thomas chose to do his reading lesson first. We use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and it's been an incredibly rewarding resource.

At this point, we've been studying anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. It's time for a break. 

9:00 - 11:00   Thomas has three "independent" school tasks he completes every morning: reading lesson, handwriting, and math. In between these tasks I set the Time Timer for breaks to play.  I dedicate one of these breaks to focus completely on Alistair & Emerick (our 2.5 year old twins).  Since they have a speech delay, I'm really focused on talking with them, listening to what they say, and practicing sounds, signs, and encouraging those things that are significantly easier for me to hear when I'm solely dedicated to just sitting with them.

Today, we worked on this letter puzzle and practiced our letters and the sounds they make. I've been really grateful this past week because I'm finally hearing some serious progress. 

Here's real life captured below. Thomas has stripped off his clothes. Too hot from some game Alistair and he were playing in their room. I'm in the middle of laundry. He's focusing on his handwriting. 

When he comes back to the table each time, I'm close by cleaning or working on my own critical tasks.  So I'm readily available to check his work and answer questions. The Time Timer is my lifeline right now. No. Coffee first. Then Time Timer. 

11:00 - 12:00 Lunch / Even more play time for the boys.

* And let me just clarify that I'm very routine but not strict on timing. This timeline is pretty accurate, but seeing it so crisp on a blog post is pretty deceiving. I'm more of a we do this, then this momma than anything else. 

12:30 - 1:00  We read picture books together. I'm a big believer in good quality picture books. We  keep our library card maxed out. Thomas either goes to a corner of the room to read or joins in the fun with us of looking at a new book and listening along. 

1:00 - 1:30  Staggered naps for the twins begin. After we found out last year that the twins have hemophilia, nap time became a safety concern. I've been staggering their naps ever since and I love it! Thomas and I get special one-on-one time with either Alistair or Emerick (we switch every day) before nap time and if we're lucky (like today), after nap time too with whomever went down first. 

1:30 - 2:00  And now for one of my very favorite parts of my day--our chapter book read aloud time! At least thirty minutes--always. We wouldn't ever miss this time together. Today we finished Charlotte's Web. Thomas was in a chair next to me, all snuggled up in a big comfy blanket. Afterward, I encouraged him to get some extra rest (tuckered out no doubt from the weekend). He fell asleep right away. 

If he wouldn't have fallen asleep, we would have done an additional activity during nap time, but that's okay. Sometimes, even 6 year olds need extra sleep and fun hands-on activities can wait for another day. 

** Paul leaves for his flight to Cleveland. He travels often & it's fairly routine for us. 

3:00  Thomas woke up as I was answering emails and reading. I didn't need anymore time to myself, so I grabbed a poetry book and read to him as he was waking up. 

3:30 - 4:30 All the boys are up. We get our shoes on and head outside to work & play. We pick up sticks and trash, water some super pathetic looking plants, and park toys next to the house. It was a beautiful day and I am so grateful for it! 

4:30 - 6:00 Clean-up time. Simple dinner of fried chicken and roasted carrots. Some t.v. time for the kids. YouTube videos for me while I clean. One last stretch before we're done! 

6:00 - 7:00 More puzzles. Even more books. Kissing on littles. Fresh diapers, clean teeth, and hugs and kisses. Prayers. Look, you can tell I feel rough by end of day. I'm not even writing any of this in complete sentences. 

And there you have it. Today was pretty calm. The sunshine was lovely.  It has taken lots of trial & error this 1st year to find our groove homeschooling with three boys swarming at all times, but definitely have found that sweet spot in our balance of work and play. Capturing today helped me to see all there is to be grateful for in this season. Our days are full of togetherness, simplicity, books, snuggles, and wild little boys playing capture the castle and burn down the village. Kidding. No. Not kidding. :) 

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Homeschool Notes: Year 1, Week 12

We are in our 12th week of our first year of homeschooling.  I thought this would be a good place to stop and gather some notes about where we are at and how it is working.

This post is right up the homeschool junkie's alley.  Lots of specific details about our right here, right now homeschooling.

(Note: I'm on easy street at the moment.  Homeschooling one 5 year old--labeled kindergartner, doing a lot of 1st grade work.  Managing toddler twins and trying to include them in as much as we can but also not stressing over a set of goals or curriculum for them just yet.)


+ Reading instruction 

Last year we worked through 100 Easy Lessons. This year we are working through Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (lesson 109 as of today).  I did not like the Ordinary Parent's Guide the first time I attempted to use it. I think the poem used to teach vowel sounds is more overwhelming than it is helpful for a blossoming reader (and we actually lurve poetry here, so... yeah). I skipped that section. Everything else has been G O L D. It's extremely thorough. I'm a huge fan. We are on track to finish by May.



Language

We just started First Language Lessons this week, so I won't give my opinion yet. From what I can tell, it will fit our needs nicely.  We shall see. There are 100 lessons in this book. I'm aiming to complete this by end of year.

We started the year with a handful of poems to memorize. I eventually ditched that. Momma gut. It just didn't feel right to me.  I know just about every homeschooling family memorizes poetry. We will do that.  Just not now.  I'm starting right where we are at: 1. We already love it so we will keep reading lots and lots of it.  2. Building up a collection of resources.  My mom & dad gave us a little bit of money to use for homeschooling and we used it to buy, among a couple other things that were sitting on my Amazon wish list for forever, A Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa.  Totally swooning over it.  I'm going to have "Little Things" memorized in no time.


+ Independent reading

Thomas declared a goal to read all of the Elephant & Piggie books. He has one left that we are waiting for from the library.  I keep beginner readers in our morning basket so that he always has quick access to those. It's my gentle nudge for more practice, but mostly he reads all the picture books we have in the sunroom (A LOT).  He reads everything though. He is really hitting a stride, and I'm amazed every single day at his growth.  He's starting to read comic books as well. I'm excited to see what he will be able to read by the end of the year, but I feel very confident that no matter what we do--he'll be fine.




+ Read aloud stuff

I'm a little sad that our read aloud experience isn't the same as when Thomas was 4 and I would read him to sleep every day. It was so lovely and I have so many fond memories.  RIP Thomas's naps.

But we have to be true to our season and so that's how it is.  Now our read aloud time looks like this: We put the twins to bed.  I clean up the kitchen a little. Thomas plays with Lego on my bedroom floor and I read to him from my bed.  [No, we don't include the twins in read aloud time right now. We will eventually. We did last year and it pretty much felt like a pot of boiling water with a lid on top. Right now we just read lots of picture books to them and poetry too.]  So far this year we've read The Green Ember, My Father's Dragon, and Hoot. I'm really, really wanting to start the Chronicles of Narnia series. Too soon?


+ Our picture books goal

I made a goal to read 1000 picture books this year.  This experience has been awesome. We are behind a touch, but I still think we can still do it by the end of the year. I've been taking all sorts of notes about the books we read.  There have been some really awesome ones, and I've grown to love children's lit in a whole new way.  We just signed Thomas up for a library card this week. Now we will be able to check out 100 books rather than only 50 at a time. True sign of a homeschooling family. One library card does not cut it anymore.



+ Handwriting

Thomas flew through the kindergarten level of the Zaner-Bloser book. He's about a sixth of the way through the 1st grade ZB book now. He told someone this past week that handwriting is his favorite thing to do for school. However, he also told a man in Walmart two weeks ago that his favorite part of school is the breaks. I'm sure the guy thought we were really hitting the books hard... or hardly.  Next semester I'll have him to a bit of copy work from either The Harp & Laurel Wreath or other bits of beautiful language and wise words I've collected.




+ Math

We are making our way through the 1st grade Saxon curriculum.  I was slow to warm up to the Saxon program, but I'm seeing how the spiral method is so good for Thomas.  I still think that a great teacher can make almost any resource shine. However, I give Saxon two thumbs up so far.  We also started Life of Fred this week <heart eyes>, and Thomas and I have really enjoyed it. It's a world apart from Saxon, so I think it's a great way to switch things up. I also set Thomas up on Kahn Academy and let him practice there every once in a while.  I think it's great for him to see math in different formats to reinforce what he learns primarily with the Saxon materials.


History

This year we've read the 1st Story of the World (The Ancients) book. We are about halfway through the 2nd book about the Middle Ages. We read 2-3 picture books a week that are either on the topics we are reading with the SOTW book (castles, the feudal system, Marco Polo, etc.) or are just social studies/history books in general.  We plan on taking a trip to D.C. next year for our family vacation. I'm rolling around in my head how we can utilize homeschool to really prime Thomas (and the twins??) for all the awesome things we will see.


+ Science

We read 3-5 science picture books a week.  We look through a lot of science materials we have on hand (children's encyclopedia and other science reference books).  We do *some* science experiments when I have extra time.  I love that we are learning oodles. I do not love that we are not doing it in an organized manner or even just recording it in an organized manner.  Even though reading & math (in my opinion) trump science education at this age by far, I still want to be a bit more orderly in the way we approach things.  Working on it.


+ Art

We manage about 1 formal art lesson a week. I have him practice simple concepts related to art, complete different activities with materials that are more open ended, or we imitate the art of someone else.  Last week we just painted together.  About a third of the art we complete is just that. It's art that has a natural purpose and prompting to it, and isn't set up as a structured activity.



+ Music 

We could definitely do better with this.  We sing lots of songs with the twins, listen to lots of classical and international music, and read (as with everything else) some picture books that are music related. I just listened to Pam Barnhill's Morning Basket podcast about music appreciation, and that was very helpful.  It's time we beefed up this area of learning.


+ Other Stuff

We do a lot of learning in the kitchen. Thomas cooks with me several times a week. We work on communication skills with a lot of intention (Thomas loves to talk, but we are both working a lot on listening right now). We also practice a lot of practical life skills-- everything from manners to matching socks to fixing things around the house.  I realize every mom does this, but I am noting it. I think it's just as important as phonics and subtracting numbers, and I would like to give even more thought and planning to this area of our schooling.


*    *     *

Oh gosh. I've barely made a dent into what I was going to type. Maybe I will do another post on all the other stuff about homeschooling: ordering our home and day, finding balance, where we are headed, the fulfillment I've found, the stuff I'm working on and thinking about, my observations on the learning process, and so forth.  I have tons and tons I could say.

Any questions for me on the nitty-gritty stuff? Anything I left out that you want to know? Ask me anything. And if you're homeschooling, how's it going?