Lessons From Our First Chapter of Homeschooling

Wrapping up this first season of homeschooling feels good.  It has flown by and I can think of so many things that I wish I would have done, or could have done better.  However, in the end, I’m just thankful for the opportunity we’ve had to try it out, for the grace of learning as we go, and for the time I’ve had to focus on my children.  I’m mostly excited I’ve had the chance to think long and hard about what I hope to develop in them through this process.

I’m sure that our rhythm will change bit by bit each season but there are definitely some key pieces that bring fruit and growth to our days, and I can see development for the better.  These are the things that I plan to continue on with in the next quarter.  These are things that can be done as a homeschooling family or a typical schooling family.  I was interested in homeschooling for two years before we dove into it and I enjoyed integrating a few of these values in even when my children attended public school.  You can always adapt things into your lifestyle if they’re important to you.

The hardest part about starting homeschool has been discovering so many new ideas and inspirations all the time.  There are so many resources that it can be overwhelming to try them all.  I’ve learned to start small and choose what fits our family.  I don’t try to do it all.  I try to choose what interests our family and go from there.  I thought I’d share the things we’ve done throughout this quarter that I’m really happy with and hope to grow more in.

I thought it might be easiest to see how I implement the things that we value and what it looks like in our day to day by showing our daily rhythm.  Our rhythm is super basic… I operate best this way, too many expectations make me crazy!!!  It doesn’t always flow this perfectly but this helps us keep on track and touch all the areas of need.  These are the priorities we feel best align with our vision at this time.  Our children are pre-k, first, and third grade levels.

Our Rhythm:

 

6-9 GOOD HABITS

(this time is for waking up, reading some bible, praying, planning and talking about our day/week/month, exercising, getting ready for the day, doing chores, and eating breakfast)

 

9-11 COLLECTIVE… CONSUME + CREATE

(this time is for math + reading, and writing)

 

11-1 OUTDOORS + FREE PLAY

(this time is also used for community activities on some days)

 

1-3 COLLECTIVE… CONSUME + CREATE

(this time is for art, handcrafts, and music + reading alone)

 

3-5 OUTDOORS + FREE PLAY

(this time is also used for community activities on some days)

 

5-8 GOOD HABITS

(this time is for eating supper, doing chores, getting ready for the night, stretching, reviewing and talking about our day/week/month, praying, singing some hymns, lullabies, or seasonal songs, and laying down)

About good habits…

I hope to give some perspective by sharing how highly we value good habits in the day and teaching and training our children to care for themselves and develop a strong sense of ownership in their day and life.  It was something I have always strived for even before homeschooling and believe can be done to a worthy degree even on a limited time frame like when public schooling.  I will say I struggled more with it then, because time was of the essence so much, but I think if you believe in it enough, it can be improved on even with the time constraints of heading off to school.  It can be adjusted and tweaked as needed to still achieve the goal.

We read bible stories from the Egermeier’s Bible and sing from an old hymnal we have that’s been handed down in our family.  The kids usually can get ready, make beds and do their exercising or stretching on their own. I put in the time in the beginning to train them as well as address it when needed throughout.  We typically make our meals together and do the daily chores together as well like dishes, laundry, plants, animals, sweeping and taking out the trash.

About collective…

Collective is what I use as the heart of our learning and experiences.  I’m a big believer in the create and consume philosophy and that there needs to be a rhythm in ones input and output.  I have applied this idea, as well as not applied it, and applying it just flows so much better, especially with children!  You can get so much more out of them when this is done well.

My planning is pretty simple.  I only have to prepare for the two collective times essentially.  I listen to the children’s interests as well as align learning with the seasons.   I plan block studies or some would say topic studies based on interest or season.  These last anywhere from 2-4 weeks typically.

In the morning I try to conquer the things that require more concentration and a fresh brain.  For reading, which includes social studies and science, I select 4-12 books per week (that’s 1-3 a day) depending on the length of the stories… we only school 4 days a week… I get most of my book inspiration online via ambleside and beautiful feet books.  I also love Jodi Mockabee’s book list from her new line of schoolhouse curiousities.  I will check what I can out at the library, purchase new books, and use many books from the collection we already have.  For writing, I choose a quote and a poem for each topic of study and the children practice memorization, penmanship, and grammar by completing copy work of the selected piece.  We use the method of notebooking to practice many more writing skills.  Notebooking is also my favorite way to document the children’s learning!  It has so many positive offerings, I can’t even begin to discuss them all!!!  So far, we have used math mammoth to help us stay on track with grade level math skills.

In the afternoon we are more relaxed and enjoy some type of hands on learning or experience.  I use the wild and free handcrafts book as a resource for making something interesting and meaningful with our topic.  I use art supplies that Jodi Mockabee lists in her note booking section of schoolhouse curiosities for our art efforts, and I use my playlists or pandora to introduce the kids to good music as we create.  They also play the dulcimer, zylophone, and harmonica some as they please.

About outdoor/free play…

A huge part of our vision was to allow the kids more time to enjoy the outdoors, use their imagination, and explore together.  The children get quite a bit of free play and outdoor time each day and to some it may seem too much.  Through my experience as an educator and with the research I’ve discovered it has become quite clear that the children can achieve a lot in a small amount of time that is focused and aided with my undivided attention.  If the child is ready they can learn in a short period of time.

That being said, the kids are able to be successful and get their work done leaving them with more free time.  Free time to wonder and explore is also where they learn.  Just like us, their free time is needed for their best production and often inspires their best production.

(A note referencing our community activities:  We are an athletic family and the children are involved in seasonal sports activities as well as private gym lessons and horse riding.  Sometimes  we are active in the evenings with these things too which influence our night time habits.  Our night time habits have to ebb and flow a bit with the seasons.  We also participate in a community group with other homeschooled children once a week.  I hope to include some type of music training one day but that will depend upon the interest I suppose.)

An Important Part…

I also thought it important to share my process for documenting our journey.  I use a small journal to write down a thing or two about our rhythm each day.  Mainly I note what was accomplished or not accomplished in each section of the day.  this is were I keep track of our state requirement of a time log.  I then use that to look back on when I journal about the kids individually once a week.  I have a separate field note journal for each child where I write something they did well, something that needs work, and something that has sparked their interest (also called a learning thread).  This is what helps me so much as I evaluate our progress and plan for upcoming learning.  I will try to elaborate more on this in a future post because it is truly vital!

One Last Thing…

The reason I believe in sharing this is to record our journey but not only that.  I know that every mother wants to help their child be their best possible.  I don’t believe that homeschooling is for everyone.  In fact, I would advise most parents who are considering it to check their heart good before committing to it as it takes a lot of grit.  I’ve found that you really have to want to do it in order to stick with it and to find success as with most things.  That being said, I truly believe that learning starts in the home and the first teacher is the parent.  It’s so easy to get busy and lose track of what you are doing with your child to develop them, but take the time to consider it.  You may be doing exactly what’s right for you and your family right now.  However, there could be some things that need some work still too?  It’s always good to assess things periodically and take some time to look at reality and address the areas that need attention.  If there’s an area that needs help try one of the ideas I’ve listed or search some ideas up.  I broke it down into different sections of the day so that if there is an area you need some inspiration or ideas for you could start by looking at that section in our rhythm.  I’m going to continue to do this each quarter as we go because it really helps me get a good picture of the place we’re in and the direction we’re going.  I hope it might be enlightening and give you a fresh idea of something to try as well.  If you have any questions please leave me a comment below and I’ll reply with my best answer.  

Best wishes to you and your child this school year!

Live for the most,

xx Kasey

 

 

 

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