Happy Mama, Homeschooling, Routines

Back to School Tips for Homeschoolers

It’s almost time for Back to School!

OK, well, for homeschoolers that may or may not be true. Maybe you homeschool year round, or maybe you started school in July, or maybe you’re not starting back until September – you can do whatever you want! But we have chosen a traditional school year so we’re getting ready to start soon! These are some practical and fun things I’m planning for this school year.

Side note: As a fairly new homeschool mom, I sort of feel unqualified to offer “homeschool tips”. I’m still figuring some of this out! But I’m also a second generation homeschoolers and was homeschooled from kindergarten to twelfth grade, so I do have a little experience under my belt.

Create a Routine

Homeschooling offers lots of freedom and flexibility, and while we love that, it’s helpful to give your kids (“students”) an idea of what to expect from day to day. It doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule of time blocks (unless you want it to be), but a general idea of what is coming next is helpful. I’m planning another post on our family’s routine soon! Maybe take some time to explain the routine the night before, or on the first day of school and then implement it each day your first week to get everyone used to it.

Plan your Lunches

I don’t know about you, but lunchtime can be a little hectic and I can end up standing in front of the fridge just wondering what to feed everyone. You might consider it a perk of homeschooling that you don’t have to pack lunches every day, but planning ahead can create a peaceful mealtime with minimal interruptions to your school day. You can make this as simple or as involved as you want. You could prepare lunches the night before (Maybe even put it in lunch boxes for fun!) or just make a note of what you’re planning to eat. If you have older kids who can fix their own lunch you could put a “Menu” on the fridge of lunch options that are available. I recommend some Simple kid lunch ideas here  And don’t forget your own lunch! My favorite is to have a salad for lunch (which I eat with lots of dressing!) so I feel like I had something healthy and filling.

Give Yourself Quiet Time

As homeschool moms we are with our kids ALL the time – which is great! But it can also be exhausting. With little kids, nap time is a helpful time to take a breather and refocus for the rest of the day. But older kids (and moms of older kids) need rest and quiet too. So I recommend that you have a set “quiet time” every day. After lunch in the early afternoon seems to work well, but do what works best for your routine. Send everyone to their own space for rest or for reading, drawing, listening to music, even playing quietly. My younger kids still nap, but my oldest has time in her room and has a clock so she knows when it’s time for her to come out. I use that time for my own rest or reading.

Remember to keep it Fun!

There is plenty of work involved in schooling our kids, but I always consider that my biggest job is to help them develop a love for learning. I don’t want to just stuff them full of information and hope they remember it. I want them to discover how to learn for themselves and to dive into subjects that they are interested in. And I truly believe that when they think it’s fun to learn, they will learn more and learn well. Let your kids choose fun science projects, or make messy art. Read books with them about adventures and wonderful stories and about nature and the world around us. Math facts are important, but alongside those be sure to play games and sing songs and enjoy the journey.

 

We are looking forward to a fun year and I wish you the same!

 

Homeschooling, Kindergarten

HOMESCHOOL KINDERGARTEN CURRICULUM

We are officially a couple months into “real” homeschool journey in kindergarten. Phoebe misses the kindergarten age cutoff for public school by about a month, so if she were going to public school she would not be in kindergarten this year. But we felt she was definitely ready to start some formal learning and that’s one thing I love about homeschooling – the flexibility to do what works for each child! And we will just see where she is as she grows, whether we need to slow down or keep going. But so far it’s going great and she loves it!

We chose a gentle kindergarten curriculum and so far I’m very happy with our choice. I had read a lot about Charlotte Mason teaching methods, and I love the idea of reading and learning around what she calls “living books”. As a little bit of a type A personality, I felt like I needed a really concrete curriculum to feel like I was covering all the bases.

I’ll be completely honest. Last year we did preschool at home, and while I loved it and I do feel like Phoebe learned a lot, I just wasn’t very good at being consistent and I wouldn’t prepare well ahead of time. So when I found a curriculum that was all planned out and told me what to do every day I was stoked! I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but right now since I’m homeschooling and have a preschooler and a baby at home too it just helped me to have it all laid out.

I did look at and consider a number of different programs before I chose this one. The program we chose is My Father’s World Kindergarten – “God’s Creation from A to Z”. You can read more details and see samples of the curriculum on their website (because of copyright I won’t share any images of the actual curriculum pages here.)

Not only is it a great curriculum with learning letter sounds and learning to read, it’s also ALL about the world around us and  both Phoebe and Phin are enjoying learning about creation. So far we have talked about things like the science of leaves and trees, the sun and moon, and learned about apples and different types of animal homes. We get to do crafts and experiments mixed in with handwriting practice. A lot of these would just get left out if I were planning it on my own. But the curriculum is FUN! There is plenty of play included, like dancing to classical music and tracing shadows outside. And of course, we read loads and loads of books – my library card is certainly getting a workout!

We have added a few things to the curriculum just because I feel like Phoebe is benefitting from it. You do not have to add anything to the kindergarten curriculum. We are using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. We had already started it and so we are continuing. We are almost halfway through and I’m proud of how well she is doing. We’re also using Math-u-see Primer. It’s a good base of math skills. Phoebe really likes it. I’m still not sure if I love it, but it works so I can’t complain and we’re going to finish it, so I’ll hold off my review on that.

One thing I love about My Father’s World is that they have really thought through making it work for a homeschooling FAMILY. It’s easy to incorporate younger children into what we’re doing. And if we continue to use it as we get into the upper grades of the curriculum it combines a lot of the work for the whole family. That way the teacher (i.e. me) doesn’t have to prep multiple lessons for multiple students, it just teaches a lesson and gives assignments for each student based on grade level. We’re a little ways away from that, but I hope that will work well for us one day.

So that’s our Kindergarten plan! I’ll be sure to post a review when we’re finished to let you know how the year went and my thoughts after doing the full curriculum.