Homeschool Planning: An Overview

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Over the course of our short homeschooling journey thus far, I’ve found that it’s important for me to have our days and weeks planned but flexible. Some people function beautifully with no plan at all, and their kids learn so much that way. I tried that, and found that it leads me to worry that we’re not doing enough and leads the kids into a state of chaos and bickering due to lack of structure. I feel best when I have written down what we will do and have what we’ll need all in one place, but it needs to be planned in a way that allows for last-minute changes and delays. Even though we do follow a curriculum, it’s super important to me that curiosity and interest are still a primary guiding force in our family’s learning, and that freedom and play are a big part our days as well. This is the system I’ve come up with thus far- with ideas borrowed from a few different homeschool moms I follow.

We’re using Adventures in U.S. History from My Father’s World this year as our main curriculum for 2nd grade. It is Classical Education and Charlotte Mason inspired, and uses living books to teach each subject, and it allows for a lot of personalization as far as how to teach and what to use. It’s divided into 34 weeks, and the each week has a primary history/geography topic- basically a unit study. So I bought a box of manila folders and labeled each with the unit number and topic (thanks to my friend Elsie for this idea, as well as the inspiration to use MFW to begin with!). I put the student sheets for that week inside each folder. Then six weeks at a time I take a little chunk of time to sit down and look over what curriculum books will be used for each week, what extra materials will be needed for the activities I want to do, and what books I need to acquire for the book basket (which is one of my favorite things about this curriculum!) I write all of this on the outside of that week’s folder.

I use a Moleskine planner as a record book and lesson planner, and I also purchased some tabbed post-it notes to use with it. There’s a tab for each unit, and I put them each (again 6 weeks at a time) on the week I expect to do that unit but I love that they’re moveable because you know, life happens. On the sticky note itself I make notes of books and materials we’ll use etc. (basically the same things that are on the manila folder).

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Each week, I take time on Sunday to sit down and plan the week. Using pencil, I write in any outings or activities first, then our academics for each day, based mostly on the daily plans from the MFW teacher’s manual. I set up our book basket with the books we’ll be using for the current unit, and I look ahead to the next couple weeks and make sure to place library holds online so I can pick up what we’ll need in time. I get book basket ideas from the back of the MFW teacher’s manual, and from other moms who have blogged their experiences using this curriculum. I stick almost entirely with what’s available within our library system, to keep our costs down as much as possible. I’m so thankful for the library!

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During the week, as we move through our schoolwork each day I go over my pencil planning with a pen as we complete each task. This way, what remains is only what we actually did. I adjust plans if needed according to our progress and the natural flow of things. We didn’t get to that book/lesson/page/project/whatever today? No problem, just erase and move it to tomorrow’s plan. Did more than expected in a subject because Seth was just super into it that day? No problem. Using the sticky notes and labeling them as units rather than weeks allows room for life—a week can be skipped, or one unit spread over two weeks—without messing up all the future plans. This isn’t just to keep things looking orderly; it also prevents me from stressing about the concept of “getting behind”, which is a slippery slope to feeling like a failure as a teacher and mom (yes, dramatic, I know). There’s no such thing as “behind”- there’s just “where we are”. It’s liberating. The only things that are permanent in the book are the ones we’ve actually completed, so it serves as both planner and record book for our school year. I really like to have a way to look back and see what we’ve learned and accomplished.

So that’s pretty much my planning system for homeschool. Those Sunday planning sessions are essential and also involve my personal planner, and I take time to “sync” it with our family google calendar (where Manny and I both put all of our appointments etc.). I also use this time to decide on at least 4-5 dinners to make that week, and make a grocery list for the weekly shopping. I keep track of everything on my phone so it’s always with me, but I really like to write things out on paper—it’s just good for the way my brain works. Every morning, coffee in hand, I sit down with my planners (personal and school) and prepare mentally for the day.

And because I’m asked so much, here is what we’re using this year….

Seth (age 7)- 2nd grade:

History/Geography/Literature: My Father’s World – Adventures in U.S. History, with Beautiful Feet’s Early American History Primary books inserted as book basket picks for their corresponding subject matter, and plenty of other living books for each weekly unit

Language Arts/Literature: Brave Writer’s Quiver of Arrows and Jot it Down writing program; Spelling By Sound and Structure, grade 2

Bible: MFW Adventures ^^

Reading: basically happens organically as he reads aloud to me often as we go through our work. We are alway reviewing and strengthening those skills as I notice things he needs more work on (for instance, long vowels, silent letters, and certain blends). He is basically a fluent reader now though, which has been a giant turning point in the rest of our schooling. He can now read the instructions in his math and spelling books, for example, which means I don’t have to be right there the entire time. He even reads to his brother and then they’re both occupied. It’s life-changing, folks.

Art: Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools, and I’m also about to order Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists

Spanish: Teach Them Spanish!, taught primarily by their grandma who is a native speaker

Math: Math MammothMaking Math Meaningful

Science: MFW Adventures^^- uses Usbourne science books covering various topics throughout the year; Exploring Nature With Children (which also includes poetry and art study- I love this!), and the Wild Explorer’s Club

Isaac (age 4)- Preschool:

Isaac’s days are still mostly play (which is truly the best way for him to learn a his age), but he has a couple or preschool-level workbooks we’ve been given, and he pulls them out (always his own idea) and traces letters, colors etc. sometimes while Seth is doing schoolwork. I want him to enjoy everything school-related that he encounters, so I never push it on him or even really ask him to do anything academic.
I just started reading The Homegrown Preschooler, and I love it so far. I can tell it’s going to give me a ton of ideas for intentional (super fun) things to do with him this year. I actually may end up getting the corresponding curriculum, A Year of Playing Skillfully, which I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about.
I also read aloud to him nearly every day, and it’s one of the most important things (arguably the most important) anyone can do to teach a preschooler. We love Where the Wild Things Are, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, anything from Robert McCloskey, and the list goes on and on. I pick up new books from the library just about every week. I always go armed with my list of titles and call numbers, many of which I jot down from Honey for a Child’s Heart and Give Your Child the World.

Well that’s pretty much my planning post you guys! I’m already working on my next one, about the structure and rhythm of our homeschool days, so let me know what you’d like to know about that!

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August 1 was the official start of our schoolyear. Cheese!
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Homeschool overview, Grade 1

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My last homeschooling update was in the very beginning of this journey, when we were still just figuring out how. Now we’re coming to the end of our second year! And I’m still figuring it out, definitely still learning each day, but I’m happy to share where we are, where we’ve been, and what’s working for us right now. One of the beautiful things about home education is the flexibility and the way it can be customized for each family, each child, and each season of life. (If you’re curious about why we chose homeschooling, I wrote about that here.)

Currently Seth is 7 (+4 months) and in first grade. This year was so full of ups and downs. The adjustment that accompanies adding a third child into the mix is no small thing. The first six months or so after Eaden’s birth in September (and let’s face it—that last month  or so of pregnancy, too!), it was basically survival mode. We sometimes skipped days, even weeks, of formal “school”. At times doing just one day of schoolwork in an entire week felt like a victory. I went through times when I felt so much guilt, and so much worry that he’d get “behind” and that we weren’t doing “enough”. I was just. so. tired.

But guess what? They learned a ton anyway. Seth kept progressing in his reading, handwriting, and math skills, even when we we’re spending a lot of time teaching it. His reading fluency astounds me (because it seemed to happen so suddenly) and he got there because he wanted to be able to read things. Handwriting was similar, along with telling time and understanding measurements. Math comes up naturally in our lives on a daily basis. He picks up a ton of science facts simply because he’s curious. Beyond those basic academics, he’s become more capable and independent (he made me scrambled eggs and did the dishes the other day!) and knows so many random and interesting things. He is constantly learning. I understand and appreciate the unschooling, child-led learning philosophy so much better now than I ever did before. Kids will learn, naturally and without force or even much guidance—it actually works! (Here’s a great article I read recently on this topic.) Overall though, we like at least some structure and planning, and I got to the point where I felt ready to return to a school routine. Eaden is 8 months old now, and yes life is constantly still in flux and we still have some sleepless nights and tired days. And I’m working more again, which adds another interesting element to the mix. But we’re doing schoolwork more often, typically four days a week for a couple hours a day, and we’re really enjoying it- which is so important to me!

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We’re going to be schooling through the Summer, to keep this momentum going. I’ve been reading about the Waldorf philosophy and I’m feeling so drawn to aspects of that lifestyle and hoping to learn to incorporate some of it into our lives. There is a lot of focus on creativity and beauty, as well as on rhythms (daily, weekly, and seasonal), which I feel we need pretty deeply. I’ve noticed that without any structure we’re too scattered and chaotic, so I want to bring some grounding routine into our days. For preschoolers, the entire “curriculum” is basically stories and songs, and letting them play freely and participate in the life of the home and family. I love that, and am looking forward to applying it with Isaac and eventually Eaden. I’ve learned so much through this series on Waldorf-inspired preschool at home. I’ll share more about all of this (and how I’m approaching preschool with Isaac) once I get a better handle on what I’m doing, but I will say that I’m pretty excited about it! I’m just starting to incorporate a slightly more Waldorf-inspired approach (or maybe Waldorf and Charlotte Mason hybrid) into Seth’s language, history and science lessons by having him create journal pages that are a combination of painting and writing- copy work either from what we’ve read or from his narration as told to me, directly onto an illustration he creates from the material. These will all go into a binder, either laminated or in plastic sleeves, creating a nice record of what he’s learned over time. (I got this wonderful idea from Jodi’s Mockabee‘s recent contribution to a Wild and Free bundle.)

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So on to what we’ve been doing this year! Right now, Seth’s Grade 1 work consists of the following:

Brave Writer for language arts and writing
Quiver of Arrows is a literature-based language arts curriculum and we’re loving it! We’re nearly finished with Charlotte’s Web now. I like the way it ties spelling, grammar, literary elements and copywork directly into the text of a really great book. We’re also about to start doing the projects from Jot It Down!, which is a project-based creative writing program.
We also do some memorization, written on our blackboard (door)—poems or verses taken from books such as The Child’s Garden of Verses. Sometimes I just pull out a book of poetry and read, and I’m hoping to create little more of a daily ritual around it. Brave Writer recommends poetry tea times, and I love that idea. It sounds peaceful, but I wonder how it would actually go with my two boys!

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading for reading and phonics
Along with early readers from the library and our own collection. Some of his favorites have been the Piggy and Elephant series, Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad, the Little Bear series, and Bob Books.

Math Mammoth for math
We also play math games—Seth is loving 4-Way Countdown right now—and he learns and practices so much math in everyday life, through clocks, money, measuring, and counting in various situations. I purchased the Loving Living Math e-book recently and am hoping to learn more ways to bring math conversations into our daily lives. In our Waldorf circle times, I’m planning to teach skip-counting songs to help prepare for teaching multiplication. Overall, I want them to see math as fun, interesting and relevant, which is something I never really experienced as a child.

Science Lapbooks from Elemental Science for science
We’re currently working through the solar system, and will likely move into a long and involved study of plants after this, along with medicinal herbs, foraging, and gardening. I can’t wait, and will definitely post about it once we’re there!

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We also do nature study for science. In late 2014 I started a local nature homeschool group, “Wild + Free South Florida”, and we meet weekly. Much of what we do is free play, but always in natural areas, and the kids are constantly finding and studying animals, bugs, birds, rocks, plants, etc. They learn through being immersed in nature, and from each other. Sometimes we will then further research a specific thing we saw, and draw it in our nature journals at home. The boys are also part of the Wild Explorers Club, and work through assignments and earn badges, which they absolutely love.
Speaking of Wild + Free, I can’t stress enough what an amazing source of information, encouragement, and inspiration the international W+F community has been for in homeschooling. I’m so grateful!

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Beautiful Feet Books – Early American History Primary, for history
This is a great history curriculum based entirely on wonderful, engaging literature rather than dry textbooks. I’ve always preferred learning history this way, through the perspective of a person living in that time period, so this immediately drew me. We’ve started with the first half of the Early American History pack and are gradually making our way through. Sometimes I revise or skip certain questions in the teaching guide to better fit my worldview, but the books themselves are great.

Teach Them Spanish, grade 1 for foreign language
My mother-in-law, whose first language is Spanish, works with Seth each week. We bought this book so she’d have a guide on what to work on. Isaac picks some of it up as well, through observation and in everyday communication with my husband’s grandmother who only speaks Spanish. We’re incredibly lucky that our kids get to spend time native speakers, which is truly the best way to learn a language!

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Art
Our days are full of art. They have free access to almost all art supplies, which can be messy but leads to a lot of child-led creativity. They cut, paste, fold, paint, and draw.
We also attend a pottery class each week, so beautifully taught by my friend Lani of Avenue Pottery (I photographed her gorgeous pieces for her website!). Seth has developed quite a talent for the wheel, and I love it too! Now we’re hoping to have one of our own someday.
Seth asked for a loom for his birthday after seeing some giant ones in a fiber arts shop in Asheville this winter, so we purchased a wooden lap loom for him. He’s still working on his first piece—he’ll work for an hour or two one day and then let it sit for a couple weeks before picking it up again, but he really enjoys it and focuses so acutely when he’s working. He also loves to finger knit, and has his own balls of yarn that he frequently pulls out to make chains with. He really wants to learn to crochet and keeps asking me to teach him, so we’ll likely attempt that soon

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As I look through this list, it’s really only part of the picture of what homeschooling is for us. The curriculums and books we use are only a small part of what we do. Most of the time, our kids play. They play at home and outdoors, with toys and sticks, household objects and cardboard boxes. They imagine whole worlds and stories to play out. They are enjoying being children, and it is beautiful. They play, and they also observe us, their parents, as we work and care for them and the baby and our home. They help with cooking and cleaning, and are gradually becoming able to do those things on their own. They ask me literally two thousand questions a day. When I don’t know the answer, we look it up together. Sometimes an entire day of school will be focused on something Seth asked about—we ditch everything else and follow his interest (because we retain best what we’re actually interested in learning anyway). And then they play some more. And in the process, they are learning incredibly valuable things that no school curriculum could ever teach them.

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Wild + Free | Saving Sisterhood

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On Friday of last week, I hopped on a plane to Virginia Beach to spend the weekend with over 100 beautiful women who are dedicated to raising our kids with love and intention. Wild and Free is a homeschooling conference, but even more so it is a retreat aimed at fostering true sisterhood among mothers and refreshing us for the coming year teaching and raising our kids.

There was an incredible lineup of speakers who inspired and encouraged us throughout the weekend. I’ve followed many of them on Instagram for some time, so meeting these amazing ladies in person was a little bit like meeting celebrities, only much more exciting. But despite their fame in the blogging IG moms community, these were real, relatable women. This made me love them each even more. The real-life friendships I formed this weekend are ones I am so very thankful for. There was laughter and tears and late-night talks and long hugs. These girls just get it, and that can be so rare. I came away wishing so much that I’d been a little braver and started more conversations, connected with more new faces- but there is only so much time, and the ones I did meet were truly awesome. (Like this girl, Tara—this is us at the beach on the last day. She seriously rocks.)

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I wish I could share every nugget of wisdom, every takeaway. I took a lot of notes.
Joy is gratitude/giving/getting back up (Naomi), sisterhood is worth saving (Kelsey), say no to the rest so I can start saying yes to the best (Tiffany)… these thoughts only scratch the surface. It was good.

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I am already looking forward to next year. I’m making it a priority, financially and logistically, because this weekend fed a very hungry part of my soul. I came home refreshed and more ready to pour into my kids, and with new friends to stay in touch with and share encouragement with throughout the year. Of course motherhood still brings it’s daily challenges, but I feel like I’ve added a few more tools to aid in those days.

I really hope to see some of you there next year.

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Homeschooling: the first few weeks

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It’s been almost four weeks since we started homeschooling, which seems so crazy to me. Parenting makes time go by quickly, but it seems even faster now. Our normal days don’t feel rushed or overly complicated; we’re able to take time to just be. That part is really good. It was important to me from the start of this journey, to give room for slowness and create an environment of simplicity. I feel like kids will learn more, naturally, if they are not rushed around in a flurry of scheduled activities. When we do add those in, we’ll do so very intentionally. My sense of being busy right comes mostly from work and learning to balance working from home with teaching at home. I’m taking it one day at a time, managing my time, prioritizing my family, and recognizing daily that I cannot do this on my own strength. There have been so many little things that have affirmed that we’re on the right path, and for that I’m so thankful.

Right now, our only weekly commitment is CC (Classical Conversations), which has been so much more a blessing than I ever expected. Our group is so diverse, with families in basically every different stage and philosophy. The backbone of it—the classical education model—makes so much sense. Seth is making new friends (who are such respectful, kind kids), and he’s constantly asking me if it’s Tuesday yet- even on Wednesdays.

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We have definitely had bumps in the road. Most days have tested my patience considerably. (Though not more so than all of our days during the summer. Being on my own for 12 hours with 2- and 5-year old boys is exhausting!) My friend Tiffany always refers to homeschooling as “parenting on steroids” and I have to 100% agree. You’re in the thick of it all day, every day. But the rewards—the connections with your kids, the knowledge that you’re pouring into them in such a real way, the act of learning and exploring together—are simply the best.

Seth was pretty resistant to “doing school” for the first weeks, and only very recently has gotten more into it. We added the Explode the Code phonics workbook, and it’s working beautifully for him. Each lesson has a page that involves reading full (simple) sentences, and he always wants to skip ahead to that part. His pride in being able to read them on his own is so awesome to see and gets me excited to be on this journey. I’m learning to gauge what works best for him. We have to do formal learning first thing in the morning, and he only lasts so long. I noticed very early on to watch for his cues that he can’t sit any longer, and stop then before either of us have a chance to get frustrated.

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My favorite things so far have been reading to them aloud and doing nature walks/keeping a nature journal (which has really taken on a life of its own for me- I’ll do a post about it soon). I think we’re finding a rhythm of sorts. I don’t expect it to ever be easy (it is parenting, after all), but I do think we’ll find a bit more balance. It’s becoming our new normal. I’m so excited for what lies ahead.

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The Plan: homeschool journey part two

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Ever since announcing our decision to homeschool, so many other parents have expressed a desire to do the same, or at least a curiosity about the whole thing. It’s been pretty awesome to see so many people choosing to educate their children at home. Homeschooling is definitely gaining popularity and becoming a much more “normal” thing to do. The stigmas and misinformation about it are thankfully (gradually) disappearing as well. I’ve been asked about curriculum and materials more than anything else, so I thought I’d share a bit about what we’re planning to do.

As I began to research the “how” of teaching my kids, I found a wonderfully diverse range of philosophies and approaches. One of the very best aspects of homeschooling is that you have the freedom to choose only what works for your family and each individual child, and to change at any point according to their needs. Some families choose one of the many boxed curriculums, with textbooks, workbooks, and lessons plans ready-to-go for each subject and each grade. On the other end of the spectrum, some choose to “unschool”, using no (or very few) formal teaching materials, but rather allowing real life experiences to teach and the child’s own interests to guide them. I knew early on that I would fall somewhere in between. I wanted instruction that fit my kids’ personalities and learning styles, along with generous bits of the unschooling life. I read about various educational philosophies—Maria Montessori, Reggio Emilia, classical education, Charlotte Mason, and many others. I decided to take what works for us from each rather than following any one of them completely. For Seth this year, some of our plan is based on the Charlotte Mason method. She believed in teaching through “living books” and spending a very good deal of time in nature, both of which I love. You can read more about her methods here, and several of aspects of our plan are from CM curriculums found on Ambleside Online and Charlotte Mason Help. Another large part of our homeschool plan is Classical Conversations. I knew from the very first moment of seriously considering homeschool that if we chose to do it, we had to join a group. Seth is a very social child, and thrives on spending time with other kids. He is not even the slightest bit shy, and will go up to any child of practically any age on playground, and ask them to play. If we spend too much time at home without seeing friends, he gets restless and acts out, and then I react, and he reacts to me, etc. Not to mention the bickering with his little brother, which of course I react to as well. It’s not pretty. So a group was a must for us, and I knew several homeschoolers who were involved with Classical Conversations (referred to from now on as CC). I read a bit about the classical model of education (The Well-Trained Mind is a great resource for this), and attended an informational meeting about CC. We decided to try it out this year. We’ll spend each Tuesday morning with the group, basically working through a timeline of history. There is memory work (which we’ll also review at home), and each weekly class includes a science experiment and a fine art lesson. I hear that families in the group often arrange field trips together on other days as well. I’m definitely looking forward to being part of this community, and I know that Seth will enjoy it. We also have a few close friends starting homeschool this year, with kids of similar ages, and we’re planning to help one another and do projects and outings together frequently. I believe in the “village” model of raising children, and I’m convinced that it will be key to our success and happiness in our new homeschooling lifestyle. (side note: a great article I read recently about the village)

So for those interested, this is my basic plan. It is probably going to change and evolve throughout the year. In kindergarten, they are still learning so much through play. Some philosophies instruct parents and teachers not to push a five or six year old into formal reading or math instruction quite yet, but to wait until they come to you asking to learn these. We’ve decided to start (he has already asked me to teach him to read), but we don’t plan to push him if he doesn’t seem ready either. This year will be a lot of learning as we go, but I wanted to have a starting structure of some kind, so here we go!

 

Our Kindergarten Homeschooling Plan

 

Classical Conversations: as I mentioned above, we’ll attend this group once a week. I’m still figuring out how the program will fit into our everyday life, and will probably have a better idea of this once we get started. I expect that we’ll review the weekly memory work somewhat casually throughout the week- there are songs that help them learn the material in a fun way.

Math: We chose the Math-U-See curriculum because it seems to be well-loved and pretty hands-on. Many parents reviewing it online said that using this program with their kids helps them (the parents) understand certain concepts clearly for the first time ever, especially in the older grades. I was always more of an art, language, and history type, so this sounds great to me.

Reading and Phonics: A friend gave me a copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which many families love, so we’re going to see if it works well for Seth. I wanted to supplement this with phonics, so he’s been working through the Hooked On Phonics app on the iPad. We may add more phonics resources later, but it’s a wonderful (and massive!) app and he’s really enjoying it.

Handwriting: We’ll do Charlotte Mason-style copywork, starting with going through the alphabet in upper and lower case (he did this in preschool but I want to review it), and then moving on to copying out short poems, etc.

Art & Music: This is, of course, one of the things I’m most looking forward to. In CC they do visual art lessons half the year, and then learn to play tin whistles during the other half. On other days, I plan to incorporate a lot of art into our lives. The boys already enjoy painting and drawing, but I want introduce various new materials (clay, pastels, etc.) We’ll talk about and experience the work of famous artists and composers, and probably choose projects that tie in with that. Pinterest is full of wonderful art ideas, so I know it will be a valuable resource.

Foreign language: My husband’s family is Cuban, most of them fluent in Spanish. My mother-in-law will be helping us learn to speak it, and we’ll work on it together at home in between). It’s been a goal of mine for quite some time now, and I’m excited to learn alongside my kids. It’s already clear that their pronunciation will be more authentic than mine!

Science: A huge part of our science work will be just spending time outdoors- hopefully every day- and doing what Charlotte Mason referred to as “nature study”. Allowing children to explore and notice the details teaches them so much about the world. I’ve purchased laminated pocket field guides as well as a larger Audubon guide to Florida wildlife, to help us identify what we see. Seth and I have little sketchbooks which will serve as nature journals, to sketch and record our discoveries and collect pressed flowers, etc. We’ll also study science in somewhat informal “units”, based on interest. For instance, my husband loves astronomy and this has rubbed off on Seth, so we’ll spend some time learning in-depth about space, searching the library for books and documentaries, going on a field trip to a planetarium, taking the telescope out to a field at night, etc. Other units this year might include weather, or specific animals of interest, etc. For now, I won’t plan these in advance but will choose them together as we go along.

Literature and Poetry: We will spend time every day reading aloud- I think this is one of the most important aspects of any homeschool. We’ve built a small collection of staples for the home, including Aesop’s Fables, a Mother Goose collection, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and a collection of classic fairy tales. Much of other material will come from our weekly library trips. I’ll use Ambleside’s recommended book list as a guide, because it’s full of wonderful classics that I want the kids to be exposed to anyway. I’ll ask Seth to tell stories back to me in his own words, and sometimes draw a scene from what we read (CM refers to this as narration). We will likely use some of our poems as copywork as we go along.

Life Skills and Family Values: Another thing that is so important to me is that my kids learn to help maintain our home and carry out daily age-appropriate responsibilities, help care for the garden, and learn useful real-life skills as they grow. Kind of like nonstop home-ec class ;) We’ll also read from the Bible together daily, memorize a short verse each week, and look for ways to help others and give to our community.

After typing all of this out, it seems like a lot. I have no idea if we’ll find it’s way too structured, or not enough. As I said, I’m sure we’ll make adjustments as we go.

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For keeping track of it all, as well as to have a record of what we did, I wanted some kind of planner. Kristin Rogers’ Little House Homeschooling blog has been a great source of information and inspiration to me, and she so generously provided a PDF download of her basic homeschool planning pages. I customized this according to our subjects, etc. (shown above), and added some pages of my own in the back (some lines pages fro recording the books we read and the special trips and activities we do, an outline of all our planned resources/curriculum). The chalkboard quote cover page (photo at top of post), as well as several reference pages printed in the back of the book, are from A Simple Homeschool Planner. I made the whole thing into a PDF with 50 of the weekly planning pages, and had it printed at FedEx Office for about $25.

As for Isaac, who turned 2 in March, we will sort of be doing preschool at home. He’ll be around for so much of what we do with Seth- music and art, stories read aloud, nature study, etc. I plan to prepare some basic activities and materials specifically for him, based on Montessori and Reggio Emilia philosophies. I love “real” materials: non-plastic, tangible items: wood, stone, and cloth; small but functional tools to learn to carry out actual tasks with, etc. There are so many awesome Montessori activities in this book, which I found at the library and immediately decided to purchase.

And finally, some of my favorite sources of homeschool inspiration:

The Little House Homeschool Blog
Simple Homeschool
The Wild & Free Conference

And some awesome homeschool moms on Instagram:

@tiffanyruda
@lifeographer
@ainsl3y
@woodsermom
@cloisteredaway
@kirstenrickert
@kristinrogers

 

 

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