I had the best of intentions to continue homeschooling while we were in Washington for a few weeks. Meh. What’s that saying about the best of intentions? Well, whatever it is we definitely lived up to it. I think we maybe did three mornings of homeschool out of the almost 20 days we were there? However, the kids were able to do so many other things that we don’t have available where we live that I think it made up for it. Like spending four hours at the local children’s museum one morning. Totally counts as homeschool in my book.
Settling back into life at home means settling back into our homeschool routine. Here is what our homeschool life looks like these days.
Tuesday and Friday mornings are our big homeschool times. Madison and Leah are both at the campus preschool all morning, so Hunter and I have about three hours to dedicate to learning. Usually we spend about one and a half to two hours on school. The majority of our structured homeschooling happens on these days.
Monday and Wednesday mornings we can usually sneak in a bit of homeschool (what I call ‘table time’) but with all three kids at home it is usually fast and focused. Most of the learning that happens on these days leans towards the unschooling version, like long walks outside or art creations or building forts or Legos or MagnaTile empires. Sidenote – this friend of mine and fellow homeschooling mama is my hero and inspiration when it comes to unschooling. I wish I had the guts to embrace it like she does. Also, those photos?!?! Stunning. Sometimes I wait until the afternoon when Leah is napping and the kids are in their Quiet Technology Time to steal Hunter away for fifteen minutes of work.
Thursday mornings have a completely different flavor as Madison attends preschool that day but Leah does not, so she is with Hunter and me in the mornings. Also, I have a standing weekly meeting on Thursdays that starts at 11:00 AM, which means by the time we drop Madison at preschool at 9:30 AM, drive home, do work, and drive back to campus for said meeting, the morning has slipped away (even if we live two minutes from campus, it still take ten minutes to unload and load everyone and everything in the car). A few months ago I decided to pack all of Hunter’s schoolwork up on Wednesday night, as well as snacks and toys for Leah. We take everything with us to the campus on Thursday morning when we bring Madison to preschool, and the find a relatively quite place where we can put in at least forty-five minutes of school before I attend my meeting. It usually works quite well, and Hunter gets to play on campus with his friends which he loves while I’m in the meeting. Leah attends the meeting with me and charms the socks off everyone there. 🙂
Much like last year, we did not purchase a set of curriculum for Hunter’s first grade learning. Instead, we’ve cobbled together various workbooks and activities that fit what he wants to learn, should learn, and is at his level of learning. Some of the workbooks we use are:
Lest you think Hunter does all of these workbooks every day…never fear. We have a rotation of what we work on each day and it’s very doable and appropriate for a first grader.
One of our favorite subjects is history because this book makes it come to life. I had been eyeing Susan Wise Bauer’s works since before we started homeschooling last year. We went pretty light on history during kindergarten and I wanted something that gave our kids a worldwide perspective of history, not the Western-centric one I remember learning in my early years of school. I checked out a few discount book websites and was ecstatic when AbeBooks.com came through for the win. I was able to purchase both the book and the activity workbook for less than the cost of only the book on other sites. Happy dance!!!
Today we learned about the Indus Valley and how it compared to Mesopotamia in ancient times. Even with my less-than-stellar drawing skills I was able to come up with a few pictures that represented what the story told about agriculture in this region, and as Hunter heard the words in the story he added the pictures to the map.
Reading makes up a significant portion of our homeschooling day. After we finish workbooks at the table, we usually break for a quick snack and then reconvene on the couch to read aloud. Our books usually include:
- An early reader for Hunter to read aloud. He really loves Elephant and Piggie books, especially this one. It was the first time that he was fully comprehending what he was reading as he was reading it, and had to stop reading because he was laughing so hard. We’ve also used Dick and Jane books which he enjoyed last year. Right now we are working through Little Bear, which has vintage illustrations that I love.
- A book that teaches about the current lapbook topic. We are on earthworms right now.
- A BOB book. We found the first two sets of BOB books in a box of giveaways so he is working through them one at at time. He is probably beyond this level of reading but it’s nice for him to build confidence by easily reading a whole book by himself.
- Other random books or articles. This week we are reading through a magazine article about loving others.
Then we usually head back to the table to add a section to his lapbook. I’m so glad I stumbled upon lapbooking as technique for homeschooling. This website is my go-to place for FREE lapbook lessons. Hunter enjoys seeing his lapbook take shape during each unit and has even pulled down his finished lapbooks from last year and looked through all of them (we did close to a dozen!). If we have time before we head to campus for lunch, often Hunter watches a few minutes of an educational video about whatever lapbook topic he has chosen.
Admittedly, I started this year quite lazy when it came to keeping track of Hunter’s daily progress. Then, a few weeks into the year, I remembered this blog post about upside down and backwards homeschool planning. Now, instead of pre-planning what we will do each week, I record what we actually accomplish on a daily basis. As the week progresses I can evaluate if we are lacking in a certain subject and use the final few days to target that area. Also, as you can see by Monday’s lack of recording, some days we do absolutely nothing.
Like I’ve said before, more than any facts or statistics or rote memorization, I want my kids to love learning. This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt perfectly sums up my approach to learning:
“Education provides the necessary tools, equipment by which we learn how to learn. The object of our education is to give everyone of us an instrument which we can use to acquire information at any time we need it.”