Homeschooling- How is it Going?
Holy cow! It is hard to imagine that we have only been “officially” homeschooling for over a month now. I’ve been asked quite a bit from wonderful people, “So….How’s it going?” So I thought now would be a good time to reflect on exactly how it has been going.
We have fallen into such a great routine. It has truly been amazing and such a blessing to see how much the kiddos have been learning and growing. I thought it would be a good idea to sit back and reflect a little on how this month has gone. We’ve made many decisions on curriculum, structure, and routine. We have had a lot of fun and of course a few glitches along the way. The more I reflect, the more I realize that there is NO WAY I can cover everything in one tiny post…so we will call this part one. 🙂
What We Have Been Learning-Part One
Big Man- He is 5, going on 6 so I wanted to be sure to focus on really developing 3 things: reading, math, and more than anything, really fostering a true love of learning.
- Reading- I have decided to go with Explode the Code 1 and have been very happy with the simplicity of the curriculum. The pages are black and white with limited distractions which is good since Big Man tends to be easily distracted these days. The pages are simple, straight forward and follow a logical sequence for beginning readers and writers. In addition, I love the “Bob Books.” We have the collections that includes Kindergarten and First Grade sight word stories. These are cute and fun to use to monitor growth in reading fluency and sight words awareness.
- Math– Choosing Math curriculum was really interesting…just like with reading, there are a zillion different curriculum choices on the market and each one says their method is the “best” or “most highly rated.” Throw in all the common core mumbo jumbo and what the kids are actually learning can get lost in the jargon. It can be very difficult to make a decision. When it comes down to it, I’m a big fan of fostering a solid foundation in the basics-especially early on.
This is why I really like Horizons (part of Alpha-Omega) Math Program. It is a very clear and concise approach to math instruction. Within the math program, there are a couple options. The math program consists of 3 books- Student Workbooks 1 and 2, and a teacher’s manual. The whole set will run you between $80-$90 which really isn’t too bad if you buy it from their website. However, having the experience that I have in education, I feel like the teacher’s manual is unnecessary so I headed over to Amazon and picked up the individual student workbooks for a steal of $18. Technically Big Man is in Kindergarten, but I went to their website and printed off their (free!) placement test (since I suspected he was ahead of grade level) and was very confident choosing the 1st grade level for him.
- Science/Social Studies/Life Skills/Arts/Religion- These are some of my favorite subjects to cover and we chose quite a different approach than reading and math for these subjects. I follow a philosophy called “delight directed” which is basically a discovering of information based on what the student is curious about. You can read more about delight directed learning here from Colleen at Raising Lifelong Learners.
Delight directed schooling for these subjects works really well for us since Big Man is naturally super curious and there are very few limitations on what we can learn about thanks to the wonderful internet, our own local library, and rich resources near us. I must say, this is quickly becoming my favorite method. However, I believe in all things there should be balance. Yes, Big Man is naturally curious, but he also thrives in routine and structure. I also believe that children need to develop the concentration, focus, and basic skills needed to complete a degree of “traditional seat work” which is why this combination of traditional schooling and delight directed has been working so well for us.
More will come in Parts 2 and 3 for details on what I do with Little Miss and Tiny. Wondering why we starting this whole thing to begin with? Click here.
Changes We Have Made So Far and Things I Love
In addition to adopting a “homeschooling lifestyle” over the past month, we have had a few changes in how our family works. I have recently been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis, you can read about that here. Between the issues with the disease itself and the side effects of the medication, I have been slowed down considerably. I used to be very efficient and traditional when it came to structuring our school day. All three of us sat at a table where I was able manage their learning all together. It certainly worked, but doing it this way did require a great deal of oversight and multitasking on my part. After all, they are all three learning different things.
- Since my PsA is starting to take its toll, I have made some changes that have actually turned into wonderful blessings. It has forced me to slow down. It has forced me to tackle their education one at a time, instead of one energy zapping heap. Now, I sit down with them one-on-one and I can give them my undivided attention and I have seen how much they (and I) love doing it this way. Can I manage all three effectively? Of course. Do I have to? Nope. That is the beauty of homeschooling and I love it. It may take me longer to finish my to-do list for the day, but I’ve become okay with that as I see my children thrive with the extra one-on-one attention. Big Man prefers to curl up in my lap as we work on reading or math while Little Miss loves to spread out at the table with every color known to man on hand. But it is great, because we can.
- We are not bound by the parameters of 7-3. We are confined to desks and walls. We are not limited to learning M-F. Darling Hubby and I can work together, as a team, taking advantage of both of our strengths to help our children grow in knowledge and faith.
- We don’t feel like we are constantly rushing out the door, here and there. I have to admit, there is something to be said for a home with less running around. We don’t have to rush breakfast to get out the door (most days) or rush home after pickup to throw dinner together before bedtime. It gives us more time to grow as a family and I couldn’t be happier with our choice.
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