Everyone was back to school this week and so were we. I took last week off intentionally to plan and prep our activities for the first half of the year and started Monday super excited about getting back into school with a new plane and routine. Nora was pretty excited too and had fun helping me get her binder ready last week.
She kept asking me if it was Monday yet and when it finally was, she was even game for a cheesy traditional “first day of school” photo.
This year we are doing a combination of activities inspired by the Oak Meadow preschool curriculum (that I bought last spring), things I have created on my own, and also some of the things in the kindergarten curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler. One of the homeschooling moms that I met out here told me about Confessions of a Homeschooler, which is a blog with tons of homeschooling ideas and resources. I used a few of her free things earlier in the year and liked them, so I went back to her website for ideas while planning and when I saw that she sells full 34 week curriculum for $15, I decided to buy one. Based upon my own personal assessment of where Nora is, I ended up buying the kindergarten one rather than preschool. Some of the activities I’m going to wait to do because they are more advanced than I think we are ready for (like money), but others are going to be perfect and I was happy to be supporting another creative work-at-home-mama like myself. (I will note, she is a Christian homeschooler so you may have to skip or modify some things if you prefer a secular education. In her alphabet, for example, J is for Jesus with a clip art picture of a baby in a manger. I know that might bother some people; I used it anyway and used it as an opportunity to teach the word juvenile.)
We started the week out by having Nora copy her name.
I am going to have her write her name on this sheet once every month so we can record a progression of her handwriting.
Then, we did our daily activities which include singing, calendar, weather, and, now also, time. Calendar time now includes a writing component and weather now includes discussion of temperature.
We make sure to take a three minute yoga break between each segment to keep her moving and engaged.
(Yoga time is also very entertaining to Zara.)
Then, after daily activities, we do things out of Confessions of a Homeschooler’s curriculum.
(Here, she is matching clothes pins with lowercase letters to uppercase letters on the disk.)
The first day we did all of this it took about an hour and a half. By today, daily activities took about 40 minutes. And then we spent another 20 minutes on the curriculum. Right now the curriculum is doing review of letters and numbers, so I anticipate that as time moves on it will take longer, in which case I may break school into two one hour chunks at separate times of the day. I also decided to remove journaling from school time and add it into our bedtime routine, because I want her to journal more about herself and her day, of which she hasn’t been doing much. We are going to do school six days per week (only taking off when Chris is home) because she loves it so much and is so much happier when she is engaged.
In addition to our homeschool activities, Nora will also be doing two dance classes again, which each teach two types of dance, and is playing soccer this month; both of these things are her structured physical activity. For art, we will be doing the preschool art class at the local artist association in addition to everything we do at home. For music, one of my friends has offered to teach her suzuki violin. And, I will continue to nurture her awesome love of books with weekly story hour at the library and reading at least 30 minutes per day. Between activities at home and activities in the community, we are going to have busy, busy days, though that is the way that we all seem to like it.
This post would have been completely different if I had written it on Monday, high on our first day of school. If I had written it Wednesday after two days of not doing school because we were so busy and I was trying to keep up with the house, it would have been completely different too. Some days, I really think I can do this. Other days I am just not sure at all. Homeschooling isn’t just doing the activity in the moment; it’s planning ahead of time during what seems like my already limited hours (even with a curriculum, I still have to choose what to do, print, laminate, cut, and otherwise prepare things). Homeschooling also means having her home all day, every day and me not getting a regular time to clean or work outside of bedtime hours. It’s definitely not all fun and games, and Wednesday night I was really feeling it. But I got my act together, took a deep breath, and remembered to take it one day at a time. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be a day or two here and there when we just don’t get around to our formal schoolwork, but I can promise myself that I’ll work more on building a routine so that there is time for planning and so that I don’t feel to burnt out for school.
I was really hoping to start a co-op with weekly meetings, because Nora would love it and I think it would help to take a little off my plate, but I’ve been having a hard time rallying anyone for regularly scheduled meetings. Maybe it’s the cowboy mentality, but it seems most the homeschoolers out here are more interested in rugged individualism than playing three musketeers. I still have my fingers crossed that some good connections will come out of a prospective meeting we planned for next week. In the meantime, I’m hoping I can hold myself somewhat accountable to you and am going to try to blog more frequently about the homeschooling journey we have just begun.