Homeschooling: Two month re-cap

Well we’re into month three of our homeschool journey and while we’ve had our fair share of frustrating moments (ok sometimes frustrating days), I’d say for the most part, it’s been going really well for all of us. In fact, I’m loving it and I think (I hope) the boys are too.

I thought I would share a few things that I’ve been learning thus far as we’ve been going along.

Mama Time = Necessary!

When you’re with your kids all day and all night long, 7 days a week, you NEED to carve time out for yourself. It can be so easy to get so caught up in our schedule and routines that I actually forget to do this and then I wonder why I’m feeling so drained and getting so easily agitated by the littlest things. I’m so thankful to have a husband that is on board with the decision to homeschool and also supports me running a business from home. He’s really sensitive to knowing when I need a break and if I forget to call it, he’ll send me out for the evening or a couple hours on a Saturday to do something for myself. Maybe meeting up with some girlfriends or getting a pedicure. Or sometimes it’s literally just grabbing a coffee at starbucks while I respond to some e-mails in peace and quiet or ya know just scrolling through pinterest. Whatever it is, I always come back feeling refreshed and ready to be “mom/teacher” again. I’ll add here too that being with my kids full time, investing so much of myself into them, I need to be working on things that fuel my own soul as well. My job, believe it or not, fuels my soul. Taking photos is my creative outlet so getting out for a photo shoot is also a breath of fresh air for me. It keeps me excited about life and allows me to pursue something that I’m passionate about. So important.

Also, even though our boys have pretty much dropped their nap, (They probably nap 1-2 times per week) I still send them to their room for quiet time each afternoon for about 1.5 hours. They start with a short rest time and they they are allowed to play quietly with puzzles, lego, play mobile etc., This promotes independent play while also giving me some time to think in quiet, maybe eat some lunch? get a little work done or somedays (while I’m pregnant) take a little rest time myself.

No Set Kindergarten Curriculum

I shared in the summer how we would be taking more of an un-schooling, unscripted approach with our schooling and while I was pretty confident in my decision, I did worry a bit that it wouldn’t go as planned or that I would regret my approach. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a Type A personality and thrive on being organized and prepared ahead of time so letting go of the reins a bit to be more flexible and allow the interests of my children to guide our learning has been somewhat of a challenge for me. But overall, my kids seem to be thriving with this way of doing things and I’m adapting to the flexible, unscripted approach too! We do have a few books and resources that I’ve collected over the past couple months that I pull from for activities but nothing rigid that we are set on following.

We also do have a few basic daily routines in place such as our “morning time” during breakfast each day where we do our devotional and calendar. We also focus on a new letter each week (learning the sound and how to write it, big case and lower case) and a weekly memory verse that goes a long with it. But everything else is very spontaneous. I leave lots of room for learning based on their interests and also what sort of mood they’re in. If I’m finding the boys are very active one afternoon and I know they’ll have a hard time sitting down and focusing on the work-sheet I planned to give them, I’m learning to be flexible and pull out or make up an educational game or hands-on activity to do together instead. I mentioned in my last homeschool post that one of my main goals for this year is to instill a love for learning into my kids so if they’re not enjoying what we’re working on, we’ll move on or leave it for the time being and pick it up again later.

I thought I would share the list of books and resources I do have and pull from periodically:

  • The Kindergarten Tool Kit  – love this kit so much! the boys really enjoy using chalkboards and white boards for letter and number practice. It’s nice to switch it up from pencil and paper and the kit also comes with a set of number and letter cards and a book of great hands-on activities.
  • Kindergarten Learning Essentials: Math, Reading, Writing. – I found this book at Walmart believe it or not and it’s amazing! It was created based on the learning expectations of the Canadian Kindergarten Curriculum and it’s the book I pull most of their work-sheets from, most often for letter of the week but also for math, as it goes through everything they need to know for jk (patterning, measurement, number sense and numeration etc.,)
  • Kumon – My book of numbers 1-30 – I haven’t used this book too much yet but probably will more in the new year once my kids can write numbers 1-10 really well.  it focuses on number recognition and formation of numbers 1-30.
  • Gotta Have God – Fun Devotional For Boys ages 3-5 – I picked this up a month into school when we started implementing our morning time during breakfast and the boys just love it! The devotionals are only a page long and each one focuses on a moral, value or character trait: eg., generousity, joyfulness, trust, manners etc., with a little story, verse and prayer to go a long with it. There is also an optional hands-on activity to do if we have time or feel up to it.
  • Calendar and Weather Cards This has been great little tool for teaching the boys the months and days of the week. It’s also great for us to talk about what we’re doing that particular day and order the activities together.
  • Number And Letter Chart  – Great for reference in our classroom if the boys forget how to write a certain letter or number when we’re doing an activity. I also have them count the number chart with our pointer to see how far they go. They love this activity!
  • Our Local Resource Lending Library – our local Toy and Resource Lending library has been incredible for homeschooling. They have so many educational kits all labeled by theme, season, subject etc., so we’ve been taking advantage of this and making a trip there several times each month. If you’re a homeschooling family, it’s worth checking if they have something similar in your town or city!
  • Pinterest – As you know, there are SO many fun hands-on education activities on Pinterest. Whenever I’m feeling like I need something quick and fun to get us away from book work, the options are endless. I love you Pinterest.

The importance of connecting with other Homeschoolers: 

I’ve been discovering that this is so so important! It can be super easy to feel secluded and alone in this journey of homeschooling if you don’t make a point of getting out and connecting with other homeschoolers through the week. It can be in a larger group setting or just small play dates but i’ve been realizing that homeschooling community is KEY! We are blessed to have a solid group of close friends who homeschool along side us and this makes it all the more enjoyable and fun! You need other moms to chat with and share ideas and resources with. You need community. You need a support system in place. Through the fall, we did a weekly nature group with this core group of friends and through the winter we plan to continue to do field trips and other outings together.

Not comparing our family to other Homeschool families.

The comparison trap for anything in life is so easy to get caught up in without realizing it. I sometimes find myself starting to get a little anxious when for example, someone else’s child, the same age as mine can print their letters better, or is already starting to read etc., etc., Or perhaps, I’m just seeing or hearing about another mom doing what sounds like more exciting and interesting activities with her kids. It’s easy to quickly feel like you’re failing or not doing enough when you’re the one responsible for your child’s education. But hello, it’s kindergarten. And one of my main reasons for homeschooling in the first place was to allow my children to learn and progress at their own pace. Comparing my children to others or expecting them to do more than they’re ready to, isn’t good for any of us. Our journey with homeschooling is our own and I plan to keep it that way.

Leave lots of Unscheduled Time 

Other than the sports I have the boys enrolled in, nature group with our homeschool friends, bible study mornings, and the odd play date through the week, I’ve been finding that we all enjoy having more unscheduled time than not. At first, I wanted to have something planned for every day to get us out of the house. And while it normally works out this way even if just for an hour, the few empty mornings and afternoons we have each week together seem to be all of our favourite days. The boys LOVE to have p.j. days where we don’t have to rush out the door to be somewhere and can enjoy a lazy morning in our school room working away in our p.j.s. That’s one of the best parts of homeschooling in my opinion!

So that’s just a few things that I’ve been learning in the first few months of our homeschool journey. We’re having so much fun with it! And I think that’s all that really matters this first year. Thanks for reading you guys!

 

Continue Reading

Bodomint Diaper Bag

I don’t know why on earth I didn’t start using a backpack diaper bag sooner than now! Likely because I haven’t really needed a diaper bag the past few years. But with another baby on the way, and also doing nature hikes and other trips while homeschooling, I need to be able to carry water bottles, snacks, etc., while often needing a hand for each twin. This new bag I recently received from Bodomint has honestly been life changing for me. And now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to be hands free on the job, there’s no chance I’m turning back! Bag on back, baby in front, one twin in each hand. That’s how I’ll be doing life come February.  This particular bag has so many pockets and dividers for keeping things organized too, a necessity for me. And I really had a hard time deciding between the solid black and the stripes because I love them both!

The dress I’m wearing below is from Dwell and Slumber and I’ve basically been living in it lately. It’s SO comfy. And I’ve loved it especially during that awkward stage of being pregnant, when I’m definitely showing but don’t have that perfectly round baby bump yet. Thanks for reading you guys!

 

Continue Reading

Homeschool Planner Printable

Well, we’re one week into homeschooling and so far, we’re LOVING it. So far! Believe it or not, teaching is something that really excites me! I love lesson planning and preparing fun activities and while we’re taking a more casual un-schooling approach for junior kindergarten, i’m still adding in mini-lessons here and there.  I wasn’t quite sure how our school days would look and figured we play around with things that first week. And that we did. As I shared in my last post, my main goal for the year is to instil a love of learning into my children. Most of the time, I want them to be learning without even realizing it.

I prepared each of my boys two binders for the year. One for their “work” and one for art. My kids LOVE to do art. I did a ton of photocopying at the end of the summer and each Sunday, I insert the work I want us to cover that week into each of their binders (it’s not a lot at all as my approach is more hands on learning, less book work). While I make a rough outline of an activity to do each day, I’m really flexible with when it get’s done, as long as it get’s done by the end of the week! We have been doing about 20 min of focused “school time” each day but the timing for when we do this is different each day depending on what we have on the go. Some days it will be first thing in the morning but if we have nature group,  swimming lessons or a play date that morning, we might do our “school time” after lunch or even after nap/quiet time. But the boys have been excited about it and remind me saying “mom we haven’t done our school time yet” if it’s later in the day.

While my kid’s have great letter recognition and can print a lot of them on their own, we’re still focusing on a different letter each week, to perfect their printing and ensure they know all their sounds in preparation for reading.

I designed this little planner to help me with my planning on the weekends and also to keep as a record each week in my teacher binder of what her have accomplished. I have a section at the bottom for a to-do list for mama’s and also a section to keep a running list of my kids interests for future lesson planning. That section is key for me with our un-schooling approach as I want the topics we learn about (besides phonics and math work) to really reflect their interests.

For kindergarten memory verses, our verse each week corresponds with the letter of the week. I will provide a separate printable for this soon!

Happy homeschool planning! You can print yours here: Homeschool Weekly Kindergarten Planner

And I also have one without “letter of the week” for any homeschool age here: Homeschool Weekly Planner

Thanks for reading!

 

Continue Reading

It’s a…

We’re thrilled to be welcoming another baby BOY into our family. This little monkey tricked us as we ALL thought it was going to be a girl again. Even these two. But when we told them they were getting another brother, they were equally as excited! So far, their votes for names are Hunny Bunny Boy, Glider, and Vancouver. ha! Don’t ask.

As for us, we are thrilled! I have come to absolutely love having boys and I see it as such a privilege to strive towards raising up strong, respectful, and integral men.

So bring on more trucks and mud, hockey and skateboards. We’re ready for you baby boy!

Thanks so much for reading you guys!

Continue Reading

15 Week Update

Each day that this little life grows in me is just another gift from the Lord. We don’t know what the future holds, what is in store for our family. None of us really do, right? But we wake up each day, making another conscious decision to trust. To trust that He know’s what He’s doing. To trust that we serve a God who is sovereign and merciful and just. And with Him in control, what do we have to fear? 

How Far Along:  I’m just past 15 weeks. I know that’s still pretty early but for a pregnancy that I thought would seem like forever, it actually feels like it’s going by really fast.

Weight Gain: This is something that’s been a bit difficult for me. I normally love being pregnant and embrace the changes my body undergoes to grow a healthy baby. But the weight I gained in my pregnancy with Paisley, I didn’t lose before I got pregnant again. So while I’ve gained around 14 lbs in this pregnancy thus far, I’m about 25 lbs heavier than I normally am at the beginning of second trimester. :S  I’ve been trying to just be ok with it and focus on staying healthy and eating well but it has been something I’ve struggled with some days when I realize I have to go out and buy a whole new maternity haul that fits.

Mood: Pretty good for the most part. Considering the road we’ve been down over the past 6 months, there have definitely been hard days when I’ve found it challenging to navigate through all the feelings of grieving the loss of one baby but being excited about another. It might seem to some like all is well for us now, because we are pregnant again. But the truth is, a new child doesn’t make the loss of another any less easy. It’s been really hard for me to be around other newborns, especially during the months of July and August when Paisley would have been with us. It’s just painful reminders of what our family is missing. But again, we most certainly feel completely and truly blessed that the Lord has given us another baby so soon and for the most part during this pregnancy, I have felt really good.

Favourite Maternity Clothes Right Now: hmmmm I’ve been pretty much living in dresses all summer. (Pink Blush, Maxi dresses from Old Navy and my Dwell and Slumber dress have been my faves!) They’re loose and cool and comfy and while it’s normally my favourite season for fashion, I’m a little nervous for the transition into fall.  I’ll have to go out shopping for some new maternity jeans, leggings, sweaters etc.,  I want to find some more loose fitting shirts like the one I’m wearing below! It’s from Deck and Oar and it’s sooooo comfy you guys! I’ve been wearing it on repeat these cooler days since I received it! And if you head over to their site, you can get a shirt of your own for 15% off with discount code: NATALIE.

Sleep: Sleep has been fine. No changes really other than waking to go pee a few times a night.

Symptoms: So this pregnancy has been identical to my pregnancy with P and I’m just going to come out and say it…  I have a strong feeling this baby is also a girl. As I’ve mentioned before, my pregnancy with the twins was a breeze. No morning sickness, full energy, my skin was amazing and I just felt great. With this pregnancy, as with P, I’ve felt constantly nauseous, extremely exhausted, really bad migraines and the worst food aversions. I will be VERY surprised if it ends up being a boy! ha!

Movement: I think I’ve felt a few flutters here and there but I’m not completely convinced it’s the baby and not gas bubbles.

Cravings: Again, same as with P, so different to the boys when I didn’t really experience cravings at all……Bread, bagels, muffins, pasta, more bread, and sweets. I could literally just eat a bagel for breakfast, lunch and dinner at this point. I’ve been trying my best to maintain a healthy balanced diet though!

Stretch Marks: Just all the same ones as last time, becoming more prominent as my belly expands and grows.

Names: Hmm we definitely have our tops but nothing set in stone yet. We’ll have a better idea once we find out the gender.

Least Favourite Food: Meat has probably been the biggest thing. Just not feeling it much at all. But veggies have been hard for me at times too, something I normally eat a ton of.

Nursery and Baby preparation: It’s been difficult to continue with working on our nursery since we had started it for Paisley and are now finishing it for this new babe. It brings back all the memories and feels whenever I enter that room. But at the same time, it has also been healing for all of us to have something to be excited about again. To have a reason to finish the room and know that the crib and other things that were meant for little P will be used by her sweet sibling on the way. When my sister was down last week, we prepped the walls for painting and so will be doing that soon.

Things I’m looking forward to in Second Trimester:

  • Seeing our baby lots! We had our first appointment with our OB last week. It’s the same one we had with the twins as I’m considered “high-risk” again. While we’ll also be using our midwives through this pregnancy (I don’t think I could ever not!), we’ll be having bi-weekly appointments and ultrasounds with our OB from this point onward so I’m excited to be able to watch our baby grow!
  • Less nausea and headaches – it’s already gotten so much better thank goodness.
  • Finding out the gender!
  • Working on the nursery and buying all the baby things.

That’s pretty much it! Thanks for reading guys!

Continue Reading
1 2 3 13