We have been homeschooling for a couple years now. I never sent my daughter to preschool. We played and crafted together at home and met up with friends weekly and called it good. I honestly didn’t even focus on preschooling my child because I don’t think it is necessary. They learn so much while they play. And since we don’t allow screen time in our home yet, she doesn’t have distractions that keep her away from purposeful play. She already counts past 30, knows her shapes, letters, writes really well, can add and subtract simple equations just by playing and asking questions. Anyways, I feel like we are OFFICIALLY homeschooling now. It must be the fact that this is the year I would have sent her off to school if I was entering the public school system. This is the year I go against the grain for real. No more talk. It is all action now. I am trying more diligently to stick to our schedule and to inspire, create, and learn constantly as a model for my children. And so far? It has felt so so good!
My daughter probably can’t tell a difference in our “school days” because year round we strive to be organized, work together, play together, and read together. But I can feel the difference because I have been creating space in my life so I can be a better homeschooling parent by getting rid of stuff, getting rid of responsibilities and pressures that don’t support my values and priorities. I am trying so hard to stay on task, to say no to different obligations in order to preserve our sacred learning time. It’s a lifestyle really and I love the way it makes me feel.
I want to document our experiences in homeschooling here so that I can refer to them if needed and remember what worked and what didn’t and to remind myself of all the success I am having on the hard days that may come.
Our goal is to be organic in our learning. We structure time, not content. We have a list of things on a clipboard in our hall where we write what we want to study and questions we have. We also take note of lessons or principles we have observed that we need to teach our children.
One thing we have been wondering about is the difference between bees, wasps, and hornets.
Monday: So for our “first day” of homeschool on Monday we learned about the differences between the three types of “Bee”. We looked at pictures, ran around pretending to be each different insect, and wrote the name of each insect. I started to get tired of sitting at the table, so I ended our discussion quickly when I felt our interest was fading and it was becoming too forced and we went under the stairs and I read aloud from Charlotte’s Web for about 45 minutes while the two girls made a fort and listened. It felt so fulfilling and lovely to be reading a novel to my children. It felt wonderful and peaceful. We had lunch, quiet time and then a friend came over to play for the afternoon while I canned for the first time!! Afternoons in our family are for example setting by mom. They are when I get to study, work on projects and model all kinds of things whether it be service, organization or learning. I was super proud of myself for canning peaches all on my own! Sticky kitchen was totally worth it!
Tuesday: We had to return Charlotte’s Web to the library but weren’t finished yet so we went there bright and early and had to wait for it to open… but then we sat in the kid’s section and read aloud for 1 hour. The girls sat and then wondered, made baby friends, looked at books and more while they listened. After that my youngest started throwing books off the shelves so I knew we needed to get out fast. When we came home we ate lunch, read one of the library books and then took a nap! Then we went to my brother’s house and the girls played with cousins while the adults chatted. Later on my daughter mentioned that she was sad that we returned Charlotte’s Web before we finished it. I told her that we would buy it instead (because heaven knows that I struggle returning library books on time and we had already lost this book for 3 weeks and had a $4 fine…) Over the last couple months as we have been randomly reading this book, she had a hard time following the plot (which I don’t blame her) but it made me glad that she still enjoyed the story in some way and the fact that we were reading it together and missed all of that when we returned it.
(I think I missed some details, but here are some good highlights!)
Wednesday: I felt so off. I didn’t wake up on time, I was babysitting a newborn and just kinda wasn’t feeling our schedule. It was a slow morning and our morning routine took up most of the time. After lunch, we invited a friend over and while they played, I looked at this “My First Book of Who” that we got from the library. I have made a goal to be more present when kids play over at our house. Instead of just letting them go “off” and play the whole time in the yard or her room and using the monitor (or not), I want to be a fly on a wall to hear conversation and help support fair and loving play. I love history and people’s stories, so I was sincerely just doing look at this book for me. But my daughter kept coming over and asking who the picture was of and what they did and then she would play again. So I got to explain to her who King Tut and Jane Austen were. We talked about where they lived and got the globe down so that she could see for herself. She kept calling her friend over and inviting her to learn with us! It was as though listening to her mom teaching something new was the coolest and it warmed my heart! This was a total TJed homeschool victory for me because it wasn’t planned or forced and it happened on a day that I felt that any sort of homeschool had gone out the window. But it was actually magical instead! Because I was around and modeled curiosity and learning and my daughter followed suit. Her history lesson occurred out of genuine intrigue, not forced themes or structured learning. And that afternoon she built an awesome fort using the “weasel” (easel).
Thursday: It was a beautiful morning so we sat on our camp chairs outside after morning routine and I read poetry from an Oxford’s First Book of Poems book. My daughter really wanted to play with water, so she piddled with 2 buckets full of water and chalk with her little sister. She dropped chalk in the bucket and it started making bubbles! We were curious as to why that was… was it because the chalk had been left in the rain and had holes in it? Was it because it was dissolving? Little sister was really fussy, so we went inside and put her down for a nap and then searched youtube to help us out with our science inquiry! We didn’t find an exact answer to our question because we got distracted by this awesome video about what things are soluble and which aren’t! And we learned that coarse materials like salt and sugar and water soluble. But powdery substances like chalk and starch are not! I love how our curiosity naturally led us to acquiring new information. And it has stuck in my mind because we learned it out of sincere interest, not demand. After lunch and reading time we went to visit Grandma Honey at work! The girls snacked and chatted and then we dropped stuff off at the DI (yay for decluttering!) After that, we stopped by the elementary school playground and they played for 30 minutes and had a great time. C learned to hang by her knees and D sure loves climbing EVERYWHERE. We decided to play a time to come back so we could read under the large beautiful tree there! I was proud of myself for keeping track of time so we still had time for family work (folding the girls’ laundry) before dinner.
Friday: We met up with a homeschool group for the first time at Millcreek library for a book club. Adults and children alike stood up in front of each other and showed and talked about a book that they had read recently. My daughter is usually very shy in larger groups, so we went up together and I talked about the Magic School Bus book that we had read about our bodies! And how I learned that blood is actually a yellow fluid with millions of red blood cells floating in it. That is why makes it red! It actually isn’t a red fluid! C’s favorite page was when Arnold was feeling sick because there was a bus in his stomach! The librarian red a book and then a 9-year-old homeschooler read, A Book With No Pictures, and did an amazing job. We took a tour of the library, I checked out a book on painting and then we all walked to the park for lunch and playing. I mostly interacted with the moms at the table and the girls sat by me. She will get to know the kids another time. She usually takes her time in that area but then blossoms when she feels comfortable with someone! We ended the day with frozen yogurt as a family at Red Mango!
I felt super great about our first week and am excited for more awesomeness!!:) Homeschooling is definitely pushing me to stay on task and hold firm boundaries when it comes to our time schedule so we can create the culture we want and not get sucked in to being too busy or on the go. I love how homeschooling really pushes me to grow as well as my kids. In fact, if I am not growing, then they won’t be either. It’s all about being inspirational to them. This week I studied from my Leadership Education book, Old Testament Institute Manual, scriptures, and worked on my canning project and printing recent pictures project.