*My definition of homeschool is a student who is taught at home but meets with a professional teacher at a school on a regular basis. All books and study courses and assignments are prepared by the professional teacher and California standards are met through such. I know there are parents and kids out there who school completely on their own, which is what true homeschooling is, but I also don’t know what else to call what we do, so…lol.
My husband and I knew we were going to be a homeschooling family before we were even pregnant. We’d both had enough horrible experiences with the public school system to know there had to be a better way; I’d spent just under three years, my high school years, as a homeschooler and loved it. I graduated a year early and was able to pursue the things I was interested in without waiting for a class to catch up with me. In my case, however, I had little to no parental interaction, and only saw my teacher occasionally, so I was pretty much on my own. I knew things would be different in DD’s case and was determined to do the best job possible. The most important thing to my way of thinking is having a set schedule and sticking to it so that we aren’t cramming last minute assignments in before the meeting with her teacher.
We spend two hours a day on school work. Okay, I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but don’t get all preachy about how homeschoolers don’t get enough school time yet, just hear me out. We spend two hours on book work. The rest of our time together during the day (I’m a stay at home mom) is spent investigating little things that we’ve learned about and want to know more about. It seems like whenever we’re learning about something in particular it seems to pop up more in daily life, so we’re pretty much talking about school and learning something 8 to 10 hours a day.
We always start with math to build up DD’s confidence. She’s great at numbers, not so great with words yet, and it’s easier to get her on track for school by starting with math. We don’t do daily calender work; that’s one of our goals, but so far it hasn’t happened. We aim for five pages a day. Her book is pretty good about allotting about that many pages before it introduces a new idea.
Then we move on to language arts. This year she has three different LA books, so we switch off; the Houghton Mifflin series tend to go in step with each other, so we’re usually working on the same sounds or letters or words in each of those books. We spend a lot of time reading and rereading her favorite stories. Like I said, her confidence in her reading abilities is a little shaky, so we spend a lot of time reinforcing what she’s learning so she can feel secure. As a side note I should mention that she has a slight case of dyslexia and a small speech impediment that makes sounding out words difficult for her. That’s why we aim to get as much guided reading and word work in as possible. Included in her LA is a bunch of speech work the specialist gave us. We haven’t spent a whole lot of time on those extra work sheets this month, but we’re still trying.
After LA, we move on to whatever we’re in the mood for that day or week, either Social Studies or Science. These subjects don’t take nearly as long to do as the others do, at least not paperwork wise; but these are the subjects we spend the most time learning about outside of bookwork, so it evens out.
While we do have a set routine for our school days, we don’t have a set time. On Mondays we are usually running around doing errands since I babysit the rest of the week; so Mondays, we usually don’t accomplish much schoolwork. Tuesdays are usually kind of rough as we get back into the swing of the work week so it’s usually evening before we break out the books. The rest of the week, we just go with the flow – if the baby is sleeping or playing peacefully, we get out the books; if he’s having an off day, we always have time after he’s picked up and before dinner. I don’t worry so much about the actual time we begin the bookwork, I just worry about making sure we accomplish something every single day. Sometimes this happens; sometimes it doesn’t work out. but it’s always my goal.
I’ve learned along the last two years of homeschooling that getting stressed out about meeting deadlines is the very last thing I want to do. It makes me tense and angry with her and then we end up arguing instead of learning. I don’t want her memories of school time to be of Mommy yelling at her so we work hard to stay calm and have fun. Our extra projects help with that.
Right now in Social Studies we’re learning about other cultures. While we finished the book work two weeks ago, we’re still having fun with our projects that let us learn more about the subject. We’re making a paper mache globe to see where other places are; we’re learning about objects that other cultures use, and we’re pinning those on the globe (a mini Sombrero for Mexico, a woven basket for India, etc.). These projects are endless, but so fun.
In Reading we briefly covered poetry. The book moved us through it faster than I wanted it to, so we finished the book work for the month and now we’re going back to recover the poetry unit. We’re making a book of poems that DD’s written and illustrated. We’re also expanding her vocabulary and giving her hands on time with letters and sounds.
In Science, we learned about prisms and matter and energy. We of course have been drawing and seeing rainbows everywhere since then, which helps the concepts of light being colored and refraction and everything else stick in her little mind.
Those are just some examples of the things I try to do to make our homeschooling successful. I try to be scheduled, I try to be creative, I try to involve her in as much hands on activity as I can…and one other thing. I collect websites like you wouldn’t believe. It’s amazing what the internet has to offer to help further education on just about any subject.
My absolute favorite web site for information is United Streaming . We spend lots of time watching videos there.
One other tip I have for organizing and making things go smoother during the learning period – store each subject separately, with all of its necessary accessories, in its own bin. That way when it’s time for Math, all of your countables and worksheets and books are in one spot and you don’t have to spend time looking for each item. This idea has made my life soooo much better!