homeschooling and spring cleaning

April 5, 2016


While I homeschool 3 of them officially, Glow’s been expressing an interest in being part of homeschooling lately, so I’ve started doing more intentional learning lessons with her too. I’m thankful True and Brave are pretty much at the same level (makes my life a little bit easier), but it definitely takes juggling to cater to the 3 different stages the girls are at. We started off the year trying to include Glow, but she would zone out quickly, so I didn’t want to pressure her if she wasn’t ready. I would send her off to play (I believe a lot of learning is done in play too) and she would be nearby while the rest of us did school. Now though, I see she is paying more attention to what we are doing and wants to be part of it. It’s made my mornings a bit more full, but it’s exciting to see her interested.

The day I have Soul and Glow completely reading on their own, I’m definitely going to do a happy dance and treat myself to ice cream (or shoes). I thought reading was going to be the most difficult thing for me to teach, but math is where we have had the most obstacles. It’s been better lately and we all have grown to like math a little bit more (thanks to Life of Fred). With the end of the school year not too far from now, I’m starting to think about curriculum for next year. I was thinking about trying out a math curriculum with a video component. If any of you have any suggestions of math programs you have had success with, I would love to hear.

The girls’ rooms drive me a little batty because it isn’t the “clean” that I would like, but it is really cute to see their personalities come out in their spaces. Obviously, you know my girls love Star Wars, and Brave is really into super heroes, Rey and Spider-Man are her favorites (I love all the things she has taped up next to her bed). I’m in the mood to do some reorganizing and slight redecorating in their rooms. I’ve definitely been bitten by that spring cleaning bug. Anyone else get bit too?


typical homeschooling day schedule

February 4, 2015


homehomehomeThis is a sample of our typical homeschooling day…
8:15-9:00am True and Brave alternate practicing piano and their Spanish homework
9:00-9:30am Spelling and Latin (Latin takes about 10 minutes)
9:30-10:30am Math
10:30-12:00pm Writing, grammar, and reading
12:00-2:00pm Lunch/play
2:00-3:00pm History/science (we alternate the days)
3:00-4:30pm Spanish with Grandmama (read about it here)

Above is the guideline we follow three out of five days of the week. One of the other days, they go to school all day, and on another, school is woven between swim, piano, and dance lessons. The great thing is that we have a lot of flexibility, and so sometimes, we do school in my bed (as seen above).

You might ask what the younger two are doing during this time, Soul is usually working on some simple alphabet or counting activities, and Glow is napping. Say what?! Yeah, Glow is 3 years old and she still takes two naps a day. It’s the strangest thing to us, but we’ll gladly take it. She naps between 9-12pm and 2-4ish. She’s been the best at napping, and if she doesn’t get her nap, she’ll start complaining that she’s tired. We are pretty amazed at her napping abilities. When I go to get her from nap, most times, she’s still sleeping! If not, she’s quietly playing by herself. It’s almost like she needs the break from all of us too. HA!

Now, your next thought is probably, “What time does she go to bed?” The kids start getting ready for bed around 7pm, in bed by 7:30ish, and they have quiet reading time until 8:30pm. You’re now wondering, “What time do they wake up?” It varies… Soul’s usually the first one at 6:45ish, and the rest of them between 7-730am.

Anyhow, I usually start cooking around 4:30pm, and we aim to have dinner at 5:30pm. The girls are pretty good at entertaining each other while I’m in the kitchen, but I probably should start getting them involved more. The days are full and by the time 7 o’clock rolls around, I’m exhausted and ready to zone out. Lights out for me a little after 10pm, and I wake up at 5am to do it all over again (Ben and I workout before the girls wake up). So when do I blog? I do it after dinner. Ben cleans up and gets the girls ready for bed, and I take care of the things I need to online, then I chill out with a book or a show on Hulu (I watch Scandal and Blacklist).

You can read a post about our curriculum choices here.

 


our homeschooling space

September 17, 2014


homeschooling spacehomeschooling spacehomeschoolinghomeschoolinghomeschoolhomeschoolhomeschoolhomeschooling spacehomeschooling spacehomeschooling spacehomeschooling spacehomeschooling spaceWelcome to our homeschooling space! The major change we did for this year is switching out the table for a round one , which I scored on craigslist, and this was to accommodate Soul (and eventually Glow). See previous set up here and here. Additionally, we added chairs and removed the bench, and I switched out the 3 hanging halo lights for one Koushi inspired one. I feel our space is functional and pretty.

The round table now gives everyone a spot at the table. Soul used to work, more like play, on the small spool table, but I find she’s more interested in learning now that she has an official spot. Glow is still napping during our school time, so she doesn’t sit at the table yet. The chairs are found items from Anthropologie and I love the interesting shape of them; I also love the school chair vibe they have, and apparently they were from Belgium in the 1960’s. I have had my eye on those chairs for a few years now and wanted them for dining room chairs, but Ben wasn’t feeling them for that purpose. Though when we switched out the table, I knew these chairs would be perfect for this spot, and Ben agreed.

The girls sit at the table for our lessons and discussions. I use the white board to draw and write on and I love that it feels like our own mini classroom. The metal cabinet houses paper, lots of books, math manipulatives, school supplies, but all our current teaching guides and workbooks sit in a wooden crate right next to it, I just pull it out when I need it. We have pocket charts to hold our flash cards and such, one was bought when I worked as a public teacher, and the fabric printed one is from my book, Let’s Sew Together (you can get the instructions on how-to make your own in there!). We have metal baskets hanging to house pencils, pens, markers, and additional craft supplies.

On the other side, there’s the hanging basket chair, which I scored on craigslist for $30, but from a New Jersey listing. Coincidentally, my friend happened to be road tripping through, picked it up for me, and grey hound shipped it to Southern California. Great friend, right?! The girls love to read in that chair! We have a cot (scored on ebay) and the girls love to lounge there too. This side is more where they play, do projects, and read, it’s a nice comfy area. I got the rug recently from Rugs USA. I’ve loved that style for awhile, but wasn’t sure where to get it, but then over labor day it was 80% off, so I purchased it. That space looked like it was missing something to pull all the furniture together, and it was all just floating on carpet, so I think the rug brings it together nicely, even if it is still on carpet. The texture is different, so it works for me. The hanging chalkboard is another project found in my book, and the girls change up the drawings on it from time to time.

We use an IKEA clothes rack to hang our giant tablet paper, and we use that to write our poems or do diagrams. I drag that rack over closer to the round table when we need it.

This room has been loved (I have four kids after all), so the carpet is really worn, there’s plenty of stains on the carpet, and the walls aren’t really white, more like a cream-grey with lots of fingers prints and crayon/marker drawings all over the place. If you look closely, you’ll see some of it (note: the red lipstick drawings on the carpet). I love our set up though, it’s a happy and bright place for learning, and I’m thankful to have this spot in our home to do our homeschooling.

If you missed my curriculum post, you can ready about that here.

room details: burke tulip table, craigslist. chairs, found from anthropologie. jute rug, home goods. hanging light, shared here. hanging chairs, craigslist. pouf, ebay. clothing rack, ikea. cot, ebay. moroccan rug, rugs usa. themis mobile, uncommon goods. pocket chart and hanging chalkboard, projects from my book. spool table, local electrical shop. vintage alexander begge kid chairs, ebay.

 


some homeschooling things

September 9, 2014


homeschoolinghomeschoolinghomeschoolinghomeschoolingWeek two done and onto week three… whew! Days are much busier with homeschooling the three (we’ve sort of added Soul to the mix), or as they have progressed in grade, their learning material takes more time. Soul’s preschool age, but I’m not one to push kids to learn everything so early. I think children need a lot of play (they learn a lot through that) and when it’s time, and they seem ready, then we can tackle all that vowel, consonant, and number stuff. We’ve changed things up in our homeschool area to accommodate for her though, so she can feel part of it. Most of her “work” consists of coloring and drawing, but we’re slowly going through the vowels. The important thing is now she feels like part of the team, and she likes being right there next to her sisters as they learn. I’ll have a homeschool space tour for you soon, but for now, let’s talk about why (I’ve shared this before and it really hasn’t changed) and what we use.

I’ve tackled some of the whys we homeschool here, but basically, it’s what we feel is best for our family right now. That’s the same reason I gave in the previous post too. We live in an area with a good school district, and while I don’t doubt the teachers there are excellent, we still feel it best to homeschool our children. I have my bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development, and went on to get my California Multiple Subject Credential, and I used to teach 4th grade at a public school. I loved being a teacher to thirty, fun loving (most of them) fourth graders, and while my career as a public school teacher wasn’t that long, I think that experience really helps enrich my daughters’ homeschooling.

I find teaching my three daughters (still mostly two though) is much more difficult than managing a class of thirty, but it’s infinitely more rewarding (and did I mention hard?!). In addition, these days there’s a lot of pressure for teachers to “teach to the test” because of the standardized testing and what those scores mean for schools. While we still participate in the state testing, I’m free to teach my children with what I feel is best, not just in preparation for the test. We actually get to fully explore science, history, and art, which is something some schools may not be able to do as much due to class sizes, time constraints, and budgets.

While I advocate homeschooling, it may not be the best thing for your family and your situation. Every situation is different and we are all making the best choices we feel would best suit our family. I’m also thankful for the public school system. I still have many friends who are still public school teachers and they are so darn good at what they do. In regards to homeschool, private school, or public school, I don’t think one is particularly better than the other, but it’s to each their own. There are some parents who shouldn’t be homeschooling and they are some teachers who shouldn’t be teaching, you’ll find good and bad ones in both areas.

We mostly follow Classical Education, and while it really emphasizes facts, memorization, and language-based learning, especially in the early grades, I tweak and change it to what fits my kids best, and I give them plenty of opportunities for creativity. The structure of Classical Education is something we do well with, and I believe the learning of facts as a base is very important, but we always extend beyond the lessons to include creative projects. My children are visual learners, so I accommodate for that in our lessons.

Here is our curriculum information…
Math: Singapore Math
Reading: We go through different books through the year, but currently it’s Old French Fairy Tales since we’re focusing on the Late Renaissance/Early Modern period.
Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 3
Writing: Writing with Ease Level 3
Spelling: Spelling Workout Level C
Cursive: New American Cursive
History: Story of the World Middle Ages (almost done with this)
Science: Adventures with Atoms and Molecules with support from Usborne Sciecne Encyclopedia
Latin: Song School Latin (this our first year)
Art: Child-Size Masterpieces

It’s a lot of stuff, but listing it out looks more than it feels when we are doing it. I will have to break down how we tackle all this stuff, but history and science are taught on alternating days, same with Latin and art. In addition to what we do at home, they go to a full day school once a week (9am-3:30pm) and take a class on the American Girls, Geography, Spanish, and Theatre. They also get to interact with other homeschoolers there. The extra-curricular things they are involved in are hip hop, piano, and swim classes. Our days are full, I feel crazy most of the time, but we all try to find our rhythm together.

Technically, True is in third grade and Brave in second, but we do all third grade curriculum and Brave keeps up just fine. She scores especially high when it comes to informational text (she loves reading informational texts and encyclopedia type books!). I make accommodations for areas where I think they may be different, but they are so similar developmentally, that having them using material at the same level works great for the girls. It will be interesting when Soul joins next year for Kinder (and then Glow the year after) because I will have to become a better juggler. It will be a multi-age school house in our home!

 


some homeschool things

April 10, 2014


school lifeschool lifeschool lifegrasslandsI never get around to sharing much of our homeschooling here. It’s cause our learning days are jam packed and well, it’s kind of nice to put the camera down once in awhile. I share snippets on my instagram, but when I’m teaching, I’m not thinking about blogging and just trying to teach. The girls love projects and pretty much give them a project prompt and they them at it.

Here they created a dessert diorama and a ink drawing of grasslands (it’s a pretty large piece). I also like that True and Brave work on these things together. It teaches them a lot to be able to collaborate. We are doing rainforest next and I think we will work on a watercolor piece for that!


homeschooling year 3

September 16, 2013


homeschoolhomeschoolhomeschoolIt’s a homeschooling post that some of you have been patiently waiting for. Sorry for being so late in it! We’re in year 3. Year 3! Sometimes I thought I would never survive pass day 1. When we’re in the daily grind of schooling, it can feel overwhelming and then there are other times and I’m like, “Oh, I’m so glad I get to be here for this!” I get to see it all connect and click together, and watch as their curiosity continues. I’d be lying though if I didn’t mention that sometimes I want to throw in the towel and send them off to traditional school.

We have many whys of why we homeschool, but the main thing is this is what we feel is best for our family right now. Just like you will have some good and bad teachers at a traditional school, same with homeschooling, you will get some who are doing it right and some who might be better off sending their kids to traditional school. I’d like to think we’re mostly doing it right. I love having charge over what my kids learn and how they learn it. I have the time and flexibility to cater their learning to what best suits them. Also, we have the time and flexibility to explore subjects deeper because I don’t have to cater to the needs of 28 other students in the room. It’s just True and Brave. Besides homeschooling to build their knowledge and desire for learning, I love that it also gives us additional opportunities to build their character. Frankly, it builds mine as well. Homeschooling is also our way of holding (and shaping) their hearts a little bit longer.

Though I learn more about homeschooling every year we do it, I’ve had a lot of exposure to it in my past. I’ve seen my mom homeschool my younger siblings in their early elementary years and I was homeschooled part of my high school years. Not only that, I studied Child & Adolecent Development at a local state university and went on to receive my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and taught at a public school, so being a teacher is kind of my cup of tea.

I like that I’m able to utilize the skills and techniques I learned in college to help making learning fun and interesting for my girls. We are in a good school district, but our choice to homeschool is more of a calling for us. It is what we feel is best in how we want to shape the character, knowledge, and love for learning in our children. It’s the best choice for us right now, but it may change later. We’re not opposed to that possibility either.

I’d like to document more of what we do in our homeschooling, but when we’re in schooling mode, there isn’t time to snap pictures… I’m teaching, the girls are listening, we’re discussing, we’re writing, drawing, or doing things to help drive our learning home that I don’t really think about taking pictures. You will catch a few snapshots on instagram here or there when they’re doing some quiet work, but that’s been it so far.

We mainly follow the Classical Education model of learning and teaching (read about it here). That philosophy resonates well with me and the learning styles of my children. I recommend this book if you’re interested in learning about this particular method of homeschooling, as it has really helped shape our curriculum and our schooling. This one is a good one too. I also like to integrate a lot of books and literature into our learning and we base projects off of that. I think books are a really good way to connect subject areas together. I was totally all about that when I was in the classroom and I’m still loving it in our homeschooling.

How do my girls get social interaction? They go to swim classes, dance classes, we have a group of kids in our church family, and they go to enrichment classes for a full day (9-3:30pm) once a week with other homeschooling kids, so they get plenty of interaction with peers and other adults.

Here is a list of our curriculum choices (you can see last year’s curriculum in my FAQ page)…
Math: Singapore Math
Language: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 2
Writing: Writing with Ease Level 2
Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (Reading level is where True and Brave differ slightly since True is technically a grade older, but we’re almost done with the book)
Science: Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World (It’s basic but we throw in other resources and projects to beef it up)
History: The Story of the World Ancient Times (We’re almost done and will be heading to Medieval Times soon)
Cursive/Printing: New American Cursive and Handwriting Without Tears
Art: Let’s Make Some Great Art (It’s not a technical art curriculum, but I supplement it with additional books and projects to dive into the artists)

Through the program we are part of, we have a credentialed teacher meet with us monthly to make sure that we’re meeting our goals and to give support, we also have to turn in attendance. Though we homeschool, the girls are required to participate in the California standardized testing, and since True is now in second grade, this is the first year she will do it. Schooling is serious stuff, so the regular business side of it that is done at a traditional is also done in our homeschooling.

True and Brave are technically in different grades, True’s in second and Brave in first, but I do the same lessons with both of them, and I adjust things for their particular levels. The main difference between the two is that True has a bit more coordination in her writing and slightly ahead in reading levels, but Brave isn’t far behind. It’s great seeing them work together and help each other. They really bounce a lot of learning off each other and I love seeing them engaged and excited about a subject together.

We’re thankful for homeschooling. It isn’t for everyone, but it is for us (at least right now). If you have any questions about it, I’d love to try and answer them for you. I’ll share what a typical homeschooling schedule looks like for us in another post soon.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling? I’ve seen it done well and not so well, and I’m sure you have too, so people usually have a lot of commentary about it based on what they’ve seen in real life and in the blog world.


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