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!