It’s September and I feel like it’s the new year. New planners, new composition notebooks, new materials…and I love it! How is your back to school going?
The idea for this post is inspired by the curiosity of friends and family who want to know more about our homeschooling experience. Homeschooling is like the distant cousin who rarely visits, but everyone has heard about and has questions, observations, and opinions!
I’m going to take a moment to compliment myself. Quite often, people tell me how intelligent Mon Cœur is…and she hasn’t ever stepped foot into a classroom. Not a brick and mortar one. The world has been her classroom, and Chouchou and I have been her teachers.
Parents are their child’s first teachers. I am sure someone famous with higher credentials than me has been quoted saying something very similar…I could search for a long time, but here’s a good one:
“The home is the child’s first school, the parent is the child’s first teacher, and reading is the child’s first subject.”Barbara Bush
Now that MC is to begin formal education in a traditional school setting, and I have chosen to homeschool…some of these same people wonder…How’s it going??, Have you started yet??, What about Mon Amour (my 22 month old son)?? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.
How’s homeschool going?
Homeschool is going well! We read a lot. We do some workbooks when she feels like it (beginning letter sounds/letter formation, math, French), and we do a lot of activities and have conversations around her interests. She wanted to watch Mulan and Moana, so I let her check out the movies, and then I gathered our geography books, encyclopedia, and then gleaned the library stacks for children’s literature pertaining to China, Mulan (the historical person), Pacific Islands.
I take notes about what is interesting to her, the questions she asks me, and what we’ve done. I’m following her lead a lot right now because I love her curiosity, and she’s always asking questions!
She learned a new word – desire – just from reading the Mulan picture book and asking, “What does that mean?” She has asked about many other words too, that she encounters in readings and read alouds. It thrills me that she is listening, picking out new words, and asking about their meaning.
What curriculum are you using?
I looked at so many different curriculums at the homeschool conference, and I’ve decided that for this year, since MC is in kindergarten, we can have a year of grace and just get our feet wet figuring out what we’re doing.
Curriculums are not cheap. I have a real fear of buying one and it not working with our family. The curriculum that I prefer is expensive…it’s fabulous and expensive.
So this year, for kindergarten, I am focusing on the five essential literacy activities: RRWWT.
Read to (new/themed books and stories )
Read with (shared reading/rereads with MC)
Write with (model the writing process)
Word Study (direct instruction – discover and discern between beginning and ending sounds, rhymes, alliteration, etc)
Talk with (conversations!)
For math, I have a few different books that I am trying. I’ll keep you posted on this part. For now, we’ve been completing puzzles, telling time, playing dominoes, adding zero and adding one. We’ve estimated, categorized, and compared.
Our themes for September are apples and animal migration. I used the library’s online catalog and the help of librarians to pull books in these themes and we’ll read and write about these books and incorporate math, science, and history into these themes. We are so excited! MC is most excited to make applesauce, and I am looking forward to apple picking, apple stamp art, and an apple volcano science experiment.
Read more about the apple and pumpkin activities we’ve done in the past.
What’s your schedule?
We have lots of opportunities to learn throughout the day. I gauge MC’s temperament each day to see how much we want to pack into the hour I usually use while MA naps in the morning. Sometimes it’s a lot, other days it’s minimal. I don’t stress too much, because even though we do “homeschool” during that hour window, we are still doing a lot of real world work and learning throughout the day. We read every day, typically during meals, in the afternoon and at bedtime. We take the most random life events (harvesting figs) to pack in math. I have a routine I follow that helps keep things predictable for the kids and includes lots of wiggle room (literally!).
What about Mon Amour?
We do the bulk of our homeschool while MA takes his morning nap. Yes, he’s 22 months and still takes his nap. What luck! I will not rob him of his needed rest, nor MC of her special time with me learning. For the rest of the day, morning activities, sensory, and songs and reading, he’s right in the mix, wanting to do and learn and dance and play.
How do you keep track of what you do?
For now, I have four composition notebooks going: a learning log, a reading log, word study, and math. I may decide to combine and use less notebooks to keep notes in the future. For now, I like having a place to note all of the books we read every day (reading log), what we learn every day (a learning log – more like a checklist with a notes section), simple reading passages, sound sorts, and spelling (word study), and stories, pictures, and math word problems (math).
The idea for the reading log and learning log came to me from a mentor and fellow home school mom. I love how it’s simple and it’s concrete. I can always go back to see what we did on a day when I might feel like we didn’t accomplish much…We always do something noteworthy.
I love the word study and math books because it gives MC a springboard for conversation with Chouchou and also reminds her of what we did in a day. We note her successes, which helps guide me where to continue and also what we might want to focus on more. Occasionally, I note the letters and sounds she knows while we play a game or how high she can count and what numbers she recognizes.
As a first year homeschooling mom, I feel confident in what MC has already learned and I’m looking forward to the continued adventure.
Tell me…what are your questions about homeschooling?