Monday, August 25, 2014

A Day in the Life

There are many questions or comments we get when people find out we homeschool.  One of the most common ones is some variation on "What do you do all day?".  I think most are not asking this in a condescending way as if I've got my feet up eating the proverbial bon bond, but more out of curiosity of how school works in a home.  What does it look like to learn when you aren't sitting at a desk with 25 other kids for 7 hours a day?  How do you live, cook, clean, play, and now learn all in one day in the same place?
Best laid plans.  My weekly planner
(I try to plan out about 3-4 weeks ahead).
Color coded for each kid.

For us, a day in the life is not a simple answer.  We do not have a strict schedule, but rather a rhythm we strive for.  So, in my best efforts, I will describe the best way I can of how we 'do it' (or at least what we're trying right now because frankly it doesn't always work!)

I made our own calendar book in a
presentation binder with laminated pages
This year Monday's will have Izzy gone all day at a homeschool ancillary program where she will be doing classes in drama, art, music, science experiments, math games, Spanish, and gym.  It is also dance day for both older girls.  Therefore, Mondays I will be fitting in some learning time one on one with Liliana, but otherwise not much else school wise will happen.

A typical 'other day' looks something like this:

7-8:30--Wake up, breakfast, chores, dressed and ready for the day

One of my custom pages for k-2
8:30-- Calendar time and devotions.  We love starting our day together, laughing and learning.  While calendar is not needed for Izzy much, I have found it to be a great time of review for other concepts for her while Lili and I sing the days of the week song and such.  Lucy joins us and colors or sings along.  We pray and get ready to start the rest of our learning day!

9:00-- I pow wow with Izzy and go over her daily checklist.  This gives her the scope of the day and lets her see what the goals are.  This was something we started late last year and has helped build her independence as well.  Often I teach her new math concept and she then goes and does any work she can do independently- usually her math lesson, handwriting, and some of her reading/language arts or writing.  Then I do the best I can to do math and reading with Liliana while maintaining Lucy's attention as well. Since we have not done much school yet, this has yet to be determined to be successful.
Daily Checklist for Izzy- grade 3
   10:00-- snack and break time

   10:30-- Finish up and review any independent work.  I also use this time to have Izzy watch Lucy while I finish up with Liliana.

   11:30-- break for lunch, chores, playtime

   1:00-- While Lucy is napping I do the subjects with Izzy that she needs teacher direction including story of the world, spelling, and some language arts.  Lili often plays a game on the iPad or reads books.

   2:30/3-- hopefully most of our work is done for the day and the girls enjoy some quiet playtime while Lucy finishes her nap.

Late afternoon and evening-- I do the rest of my 'mom' chores like cooking and laundry as we finish our day.  Usually about this time I have the girls 'reset' the school room to make sure we have a clean table and fresh start to our day tomorrow.

Some days look like this
Others, like this!
And the big Asterisk to this is the fact that I have an 18 month old running around and an untested attention span of a 4.5 year old.  Life gets messy.  Crayons get eaten.  Puzzles get dumped.  Errands have to be run.  Some days are joyfully pleasant and we enjoy books and crafts together.  Others, I about want to raise the white flag and summon the big yellow bus.  You never know what you will find in the day in our life, but it is sure to be filled love (even if its deep down!).

You can check out more homeschooling families day in the life at the ihomeschool network blog hop today!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back to School Photos

Hard to believe we have entered our second year of homeschooling- it already feels 'normal'.  I am thankful to not have to say goodbye to my oldest every morning and not see her until almost dinner time.  I am nervous about beginning to teach my middle to read, but yet excited that I can start even though she is "not old enough" by law to go to Kindergarten yet.  I am still trying to figure out how we'll do all of our learning and exploring while chasing down a busy toddler.  Whatever the case- we are excited to be home, learning together, enjoying each other, and being intentional about life.

Here are our 'first day of school' photos:

Liliana age 4.5- Kindergarten!
Lil is our resident extrovert who loves and lives deeply and passionately.  She wants to read and learn just like big sister.  She's excited to take dance again this year and also do science experiments.
 Isabelle age 8- 3rd Grade
Izzy is our quiet courage girl.  She has just blossomed over the past year into a sweet, kind, helpful, and compassionate young lady.  Izzy will be doing a Monday program at our homeschool building where she will get drama, music, art, Spanish, gym, science, and math games.  She really wants to learn about prairie dogs and read the Kit series.  She will also be in tap dance.
 Lucy age 18 months
Lucy just had to get in on the action. She's the one we have to chase all day and keep busy.  She wants to do learning just like her sisters and color on the marker board.  Now the trick is getting her to not eat the markers or color on herself.

We are excited for our year!

I'm taking part in this week's not back-to school hope over at ihomeschoolnetwork!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

2nd Year of Homeschooling Launch- Our Room

Last year was our first year.  As much as I was warned and I tried to stay away, our room and set up ended up being more of a 'school at home' rather than the lifelong learning intentions I had.  While I found some benefits to the school at home set up, I did make a few adjustments going into our second year of homeschooling.  This was also partly due to the fact that the youngest is now 18 months old and into everything- so many things need to be 'locked away'!

Our room is a main floor office we had originally intended for a play room.  It has great natural light and some large built in bookshelves.  We used an old dining room table we had downstairs, an old sofa chair with a slip cover, and a massive white board found at habitat humanity ReStore.
 We have a small bulletin board for sight words, clock, reference guides, and 100's chart.  Around the room we attached magnet strip to hang art work, maps, and counting strips.  The built in desk area houses our printer, pencil sharpener, and magnet boards for AAS.
 In one of the big cupboards of the built-ins we have added doors and child locks.  This way the markers, stacks of paper, and our pink bins of school books stay safe from the active toddler.  Our pink boxes hold our daily workbooks and TM.  Above the cupboards I have a blue bin of easy access glue, scissors, pencils, index cards, post its, and my green planning binder.  Both girls have a decorated mug filled with their pencils and pens of choice.
 The window wall hosts our chair and small play area to help keep the toddler and sometimes 4.5 year old (who's doing some K work this year) entertained.
Often our room expands into the dining area when the 3rd grader needs quiet work time or to the couch for read aloud time, but this is a great space for school central.  We are very thankful to have it. Welcome to our room!

My post this week is part of the not back-to school hop over at ihomeschool!

Monday, August 4, 2014

3rd Grade and Kindergarten Curriculum Choices- 2nd Year Launch!

Last year was a big year.  Our transition to homeschooling from public school for our oldest (then second grade) had its ups and downs.  We switched curriculums around a few times and ended up with a year of memories and growth.

I was able to attend a Great Homeschool Convention in April which was helpful in touching and feeling different options.  So after praying, exploring, and a little trial and error, here are our curriculum choices for (at least the start) of this year!

Izzy- 3rd Grade

Math:  Christian Light Education (CLE) 300
Reading & Language Arts:  Total Language Plus (TLP) "The Courage of Sarah Noble" and "The Whipping Boy" with a Unit Study on the  American Girl Kit series in the middle since she enjoyed our Samantha and Addy series so much last year.  I also have daily language skill sheets for her to do if needed to supplement during unit studies.
Writing:  Our biggest struggle last year and we ended up with basically copy work and a few journal entry responses with our unit studies.  I'm hoping our new choice of Essentials in Writing level 3 will be a great fit for us!
Handwriting:  A Reason For Handwriting cursive.  She will get printing practice with TLP
Spelling:  All About Spelling finishing level 2 and going onto 3.  We started this program mid-year last year and have mixed feelings about it.  The phonics education has been great for her (she learned to read primarily on sight words) but the spelling has not improved as much as I would have hoped.  I've been encouraged to keep with it- so we'll at least go through level 3.
Social Studies:  Story of the World vol 1 and Abeka's Our American Heritage for grade 3.  I was intrigued by the Story of the World idea but wanted to keep going in our American studies so we will probably filter back and forth.  The Abeka will be more independent in nature and less up front for me for those busier weeks or when I'm working with little sister.
Bible:  Adventure Bible Devotional by Zonderkidz.  We are going to also focus on applying to Fruits of the Spirit to our lives as they are one of our 'school rules'.
Ancillary Program:  We are going to try a local homeschool program all day on Mondays which will give grade level experiences each week in Art, Music, Drama, Gym, Math Games, Spanish, and Science Experiments.  It will be nice to have such a variety of experiences for her to draw upon and to be in a more 'classroom' setting which she has missed.  We are hopeful this will be a great addition to our family.

Liliana- Kindergarten
Lili is 4.5 but ready to start some basic Kindergarten.  She is past preschool curriculums, so I project taking 1.5 years to do K work, but will let her dictate her own pace.

Calendar: I have a homemade presentation book with laminated pages for our calendar/circle time.  Pages include counting, temperature, monthly calendar, venn diagram, tally marks, writing numerically, math problem of the day, patterns, time, place value, and money.  It works great, its portable and customizable, and was super easy to do!
Math:  Christian Light Education (CLE) 100.  Technically 1st grade books, but she was beyond their Kindergarten books, so we will start slow.  I do not expect to finish, but rather use this level for 2 full years.  We will supplement with extra practice pages as needed so she does not move too fast for her stage of development.
Reading:  I got drawn into the Horizon's program's beautiful books.  I'm not sure I love it and kind of wish I had done something different, but we'll see how it works.  I have a feeling we will fly through the first book as she already knows most of her basic phonics.  I also have some readers like BOB books and an Usborne Ted and Friends books on cd to help boost sight words.
Handwriting:  A Reason for Handwriting
Social Studies:  Story of the World with big sister as her attention span allows.  I figured out some adaptable activities to engage her while big sis is working on more intricate projects.
Bible:  Adventure Bible Devotional by Zonderkidz.  We are going to also focus on applying to Fruits of the Spirit to our lives as they are one of our 'school rules'.

My blog is shared at the not back-to-school hop over at ihomeschoolnetwork!  Head over there to see other great curriculum choices homeschool parents around the world have chosen!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Starting Well after a Chaotic Ending

I had great intentions for our last month of school for the 2013-2014 year.  Wrap up a lap book unit on the Addy series by American Girl, Finish CLE math books through 209, go on a couple field trips and do some free journal writing, and do some beginning Spanish since we knew that Isabelle would be adding Spanish with her co-op class in the fall and needed to catch up.

Then came a mini-flood.

Our refrigerator sprung a leak in the water tank and went all under the laminate flooring and soaked the basement bedroom.  Two weeks of demo of the damaged goods.  A domino affect of remodel projects.  Our house became a flurry of construction workers, noise, and mess.  School was attempted in other locations, but just didn't work well.  Things finally put back together and we resumed summer life late June.

For about 6 days.

Then another water leak.  Same spot, different problem.  We had replaced the fridge, but this time is was the water main to the fridge that leaked.  Ripped up brand new flooring.  And here we are August 1st still waiting to have it "finished".

Needless to say, my expectations for finishing out our first year of homeschooling didn't quite lead to reality.  In all, it has been ok.  We've spent time with family, read different books, and just played a lot.  We didn't end well, but the beauty of homeschooling is that learning never truly ends and you just roll with that.

Once our fall activities and commitments started filling in, I realized how important it was going to be start intentionally with more structured schooling.  Our days of play and pajamas needed to start resembling a little more purposeful learning.  So this week has been our "soft start" of school for the 2014-2015 year.

We have focused on exploring our new curriculum books, making goals and 'rules', reviewing concepts, and slowly starting to add new subjects.  We'll have a week of camping and a week of a cottage trip, but hopefully this steady start will help us successfully navigate our fall launch of activities and full school schedule.  It has been a hair pulling week at times (you forget how much kids forget after a few weeks off!) but overall it has been great for us to get back into the routine.  I hope that this intentionality will pay off as September rolls around.