Here we are again at the beginning of another school year. I am excited; I love starting things! Fresh notebooks, colorful pens, and the routine of structured learning are needed. Summer was wonderful, but we need some focus back into our days. This year will have a new challenge. We will be covering pre-k through 5th-grade topics - so ABC's through Algebraic thinking. Easy-peasy(also the curriculum base we use) - No pressure!
I am a hot-beverage drinker. There are seasons where it is creamy coffee (yum), black coffee (to prove I am not addicted to unhealthy creamers) or tea (to prove I'm not addicted to caffeine). Then the cycle repeats itself. It is mostly ritualistic, something warm to drink during my process of waking up.
In this wonderful season, while I pry my eyelids open around 7:30, my kids fend for themselves. The older two assist the younger one with his breakfast needs if I'm not up tending to my French press yet. Our go-to breakfasts consist of toast, waffles, bagels, cereal, a piece of fruit or frozen pancakes thawed in the toaster. In the summer they were allowed cartoons or games for a bit, but during the school year, there must be Bible before any devices and devices must be earned as well as utilized for educational purposes first.
Our schooling doesn't usually start until 10 am unless we have some activity planned. From wake up until 10 it is prep time aka chores and self-grooming. After chores, we may go for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood first.
We use the online curriculum of Easy Peasy or allinonehomeschool.com. This will be my fourth year using her outline (kindergarten and first grade we did scholastic books and more games). I love how I can add or drop things easily. If we have already read a book, we substitute a different one. I can't imagine trying to homeschool without Google. There are so many resources, that it is more about restricting resources to prevent overwhelm.
My youngest is an active little boy, so learning to recognize letters includes beanbags and Nerf guns. A lot of movement is needed. It will be a LeapFrog kind of year for him. We use random printables and crafts to cement learning the alphabet as his interest holds. Naiah might also run off and play super-hero in full costume in between activities while I answer questions about his sisters' assignments.
My hands-on-learner is always asking for crafts. Joining her sister for History and Science will give her plenty of hands-on lapbook assignments. She joins in on some of brother's crafts because she loves them that much! Having siblings work together for various subjects will also free mommy to work with the other unless my input isn't needed. Kei's favorite subject is math, so we also love xtramath.org for tracking her progress. (xtramath is also free!)
I am a huge proponent of independent learning. I try and wait to interject my suggestions until they seem needed. Its okay to let your child puzzle things out; it makes their brains stretch. I love the idea of strewing resources around so they learn without even realizing it. Seeing my kids work through their checklist on their own gives me confidence that they will be self-disciplined to meet accomplishments out in the real world.
My oldest, Dassa, is a grade ahead because of her problem-solving mind. She is an overachiever and makes me look good. Temperamentally, she is very much like me, however, so we are working hard on our communication. Mommy is still learning too! ;) I am learning where my boundaries should be in this new season of three students.
The two girls are signed up for an acrobatics dance class; we are all excited about this new element being added to the routine of our week. Baby boy will get some one-on-one dates with mommy and daddy during their hour of activity, so win-win for everyone!
Last year our schooling went 2+ hours a day, but with the addition of a third student it sometimes pushes to 3ish. We get the essentials done and then break at noon to eat some lunch.
At lunch, we go over our verse of the week (a lot of these are to song!), do calendar time (for the little guy mostly), and practice our languages (Russian, German, Spanish and Sign Language). We are learning a smattering of things just to round us out.
After lunch we finish what we didn't, read a book, play a game or call some friends.
Because our curriculum is primarily based online, we invested in chrome books this year with the touchable screens. We have a bit that is offline as well, including printouts, experiments, lapbooks, board games and reading. The little guy utilizes starfall.com, abcya.com and RosiMosi learning games. He also hops on shapes, letters and numbers, shoots them or tosses them into baskets.
My husband made us a long desk for our living room. This desk allows us all to work in the main area together, holds our printer and provides separate spaces for student projects. It is important to me that I model lifelong learning to my children. I am an author in the midst of several projects, so I am constantly reading, writing or researching too. Homeschooling just means I am keeping my own skills fresh as I assist in their learning process. It is a lot of hands-on in the beginning but it quickly flourishes into self-motivation and owning their responsibility.
Each student is unique. I have three lefties, but that is where the comparison stops. I seem to have an auditory learner, a kinetic learner, and a visual learner. The youngest is still hard to pin down completely; mostly he is just a bundle of indecisive energy.
We focus on attitude and progress over perfectionism. We stress problem-solving and independent thinking. Each year we pray for God's guidance and tweak things to fit the new dynamics. Knowing that we aren't restricted by a set schedule or expensive curriculum allows us all the freedom to adapt and grow. This was key mostly for mommy's personality. I crave change! We do have lists of responsibilities to keep us on task, but if life interrupts, great!
Our mornings are for learning and our afternoons offer opportunities for boredom which leads to creativity and invention. Sometimes we flip-flop this, depending on the time of the year, to enjoy the park with our friends because afternoons in Florida can get too hot! We bring down the Legos (I keep them up for my sanity) or bring out the board games. We also allow some device times when it has been earned; a house doesn't run itself.
Everyone pitches in around here, so pet care, laundry, dishes, cleaning and even some cooking is shared. Our library and park visits are regular. Dad is self-employed so this allows us a lot of flexibility for him to be included in field trips or family days. This also means, we occasionally work nontraditional school hours on Saturday if need be. We work with a flexible routine rather than a strict schedule.
So our typical home-school day, in a nutshell, is learning for a 3ish hour chunk around our other life activities. If Dad gets off early, we play with him and double up the next day. If daily rain showers hinder our play, you might find us in our bathing suits in the backyard anyway.
I love to hear how other's shape their learning environment. Leave a comment on what works in your season at your house!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....