Tag Archives: homeschooling

Our Homeschooling Adventures: K4

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our adventures in homeschooling

It’s been about 18 months since I entertained the idea of homeschooling.  My daughter had just turned three and honestly, I didn’t want to homeschool.  But sometimes what I want and what God wants are two different things… but that’s a whole different blog post for another day.  🙂

We started on the God’s Little Explorers curriculum.  You know, just to test the waters and see if I could “do” this homeschooling thing.  And although we didn’t actually finish that curriculum — not because we didn’t like it; I wholeheartedly recommend it and will be starting it with my son this fall — I realized that I could be my child’s teacher.

It is a scary and thoroughly exciting idea to me still.  That I, who hate science and still can not comprehend most advanced maths, can actually be a great teacher to my children.  Not because I know everything, because that is certainly not the case.  I can be a great teacher because there is no one else in the world who wants more for my children than I (and my husband) do.  

Fast forward 18 months.  My now four year old daughter and I have been doing the K4 curriculum through A Beka since August.  I wanted a curriculum that had a couple of specific qualities.  It had to be Bible based and it had to be well laid out.  I was still very unsure of my teaching ability and wanted a curriculum that told me exactly what to do.

Our first few weeks were very strict.  I went exactly by the book and did not deviate.  As we found our groove and got more comfortable with schooling I became more laid back, which is (in my opinion) one of the great benefits of homeschooling.  You can make your own schedule, go at your own pace and make the most of your strengths.

We have been taking a lot of field trips (another perk to homeschooling) and just having fun with it.  The field trips have kind of put us behind the schedule I had worked out at the beginning of the year.  But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter.  My husband and I have since decided to homeschool year round so we can enjoy these trips and more relaxed schedule.

I’m expecting to finish the K4 program around June and start A Beka K5 with her in July.  My son will turn three in October so I’m planning on starting the GLE program with him in September.

If you’re just starting your homeschool adventures, thinking about starting or just have a question for me please leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I would love to help you if I can.  And if I can’t, I’ll try and find someone who can!

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 6 Review

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**I am posting this extremely late and I do apologize.  My internet has not been allowing uploads (i.e. pictures and videos) since last week so I’ve not been able to load the pictures to this post!  Frustrating!  But it seems to be resolved.  For now at least.**our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

I didn’t think I’d say it, but I sure missed “doing school” (as C says) the past few weeks!  There were several reasons why we took two weeks off.  We started too early to let weeks 13 and 14 (the J for Jesus weeks) fall in the month of December (and we’re still early, but I’m planning on taking a week off for Thanksgiving too).  I’ve been sick for a few weeks with sinus trouble — which morphed into a sinus infection last week.  We had three old appliances taken away and three new ones delivered the next day — and that experience will have to be a whole blog post in itself.  And speaking of blogs, I’ve been quite tied up with the 31 days of blogging challenge too.

Needless to say, it’s been a pretty busy few weeks.  But we were back at it last week and both of us were raring to go!

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These pages are part of her Independent Preschool Binder — each week I add the new pages for the letter of the week.  You can find these pages at Education.com.  She colors them pretty much every day so I’m glad I put them in sheet protectors.  She loves using the dry erase markers (I scored a set of eight different colors for about $4 on clearance at Walgreens a few weeks ago) and it makes for easy clean up.  Let’s be honest, they color enough masterpieces that have to be hung on the fridge.  I don’t need more of them. 🙂

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This is also in our Independent Preschool Binder and she works on it every day.  These pages came from Education.com as well.

008This happened during one of my sick days — we did school in my bed that day.  (Whatever works, right?)  There were a few marker stains on my husband’s pillow after that day, but that’s why we buy washable markers!  We hung it up in the office (near our treasure map) and look forward to adding to it as the weeks progress.  C had fun cutting and gluing them by herself.  She’s still not very proficient with the scissors so I cut out thin strips of construction paper and she cut them into little pieces instead of using buttons or fabric.  We did this on card stock so it would be more durable.

010As you can see, she did this while I was occupied with J.  I did one of them (can you guess which one?) and she did the rest.  I think she was losing interest since she didn’t even do the top right one.  I was even planning on using paints with this one, but I was so ill when we did it that I just couldn’t work up the enthusiasm.

025I’m not sure that she quite realizes when she writes her letters upside down or backwards.  We’re still working on that.  She was quite happy with her smiley faces though — there is one for all four members of our family.  Isn’t she sweet?  🙂

Other things we did this week (that I didn’t get a picture of:

  • Watched The Ballad of Little Joe; a Veggie Tales show which tells the story of Joseph.
  • Worked on the Self Help project:  practicing our phone number.  We still need a bit of work on it, but she’s getting better.
  • We played Candyland (which worked great while in bed!).
  • Sorted dirty clothes by color.  That totally counts as a self help and color recognition, right? 
  • Read some books we had about colors.
  • Made and did the Egg Carton Color Sort learning bag.

And that’s all (that I can remember at least)!  This week we’re working on the letter I!

 

 

 

The Independent Preschool Binder

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I ran across this post from Littlest Sweet Pea a few days ago which talked about “Mommy School Binders”.  Is that not the best thing ever invented?  I mean, seriously.  My daughter would benefit so much from something like this.  She loves to “do school” and especially loves anything she can do by herself… and if it’ll keep her occupied for a while so I can have a cup of coffee in peace put the baby down for a nap then I’m all for it.  Plus, you know, it’s educational and stuff.  That’s the real reason for them.  Not the coffee in peace thing.

Ahem.

Anyway, moving on.

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I already had a few things we were using daily that I could use (in what I’m calling the “Independent Preschool Binder”) that were just floating around without a proper home.  And there were so many printables I downloaded from the Littlest Sweet Pea post that would help C.  After I started researching and digging around I realized I probably had more printables than I needed and had to pare it down a bit to keep from overwhelming my little one!

The brilliant thing about these binders is the versatility.  If your child “outgrows” a section, take it out and replace it with something harder.  Or switch things out occasionally to keep boredom from setting in.  There are no limits to the possibilities.  And there are so many awesome bloggers out there these days that have the gift of creating these printables that you and your children can use.  And a lot of them do it for free!

How I Put Together Our Independent Preschool Binder

The Supplies:

  • sheet protectors (a must if you want to reuse papers) AND/OR
  • laminator/lamination sheets (I laminate for durability)
  • 1″ 3-ring binder (or whatever you want to use to store your pages)
  • manila folder (or whatever you want to use to store extra/future pages)
  • printables (see more in the section below)
  • dry/wet erase markers (C loves having different colors to choose from)

The Printables:

  • From Mama’s Learning Corner — the Preschool Calendar Notebook — I put all of those pages in the binder except the “This is How I Write My Name” page and the future calendar month pages, otherwise they would all be filled out tomorrow instead of in the following months. 🙂
  • From 3 Dinosaurs — Prewriting Practice — which I spoke about in this post.
  • From Littlest Sweet Pea — Name Tracing Practice — I made one with C’s first name and one with her last name.
  • From Education.com — Letters of the Alphabet and Trace the Alphabet.  (Note: This website allows 10 free worksheet downloads per month.  You can buy a subscription for unlimited downloads.  I just mark it on my calendar to remind me that I’m eligible for 10 more downloads each month.)

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After I had everything printed and sorted it was really easy to put all of the printables in order, stick them in sheet protectors and let C have some fun.  We have worked through it together a few times and she is able to do most of it by herself.  We had never gone over the days of the week before so she still needs some help with that, but I think that printable is a fun way to teach them the days of the week.  {I also like the song here.}

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I chose not to put in any color activities.  I don’t like to waste ink and C is comfortable with all of her colors anyway so there really was no point.  When I have a bit more time I would love to find some lower case alphabet tracers — I usually teach her lower case letters first so having those printables would be awesome.

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As soon as she is more comfortable identifying numbers I would like to begin teaching her how to tell time (I’m sure I could find a nice printable for that to go in our little binder).  I will also be adding some “What Letter Is Missing” printables when she can easily identify and write her letters.

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Like I said, the options are endless!

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Can you think of an area I’m missing for our binder?

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 5 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

The letter for this week was “T” — like T for tent, but more on that in a minute.

Thankfully the weather has been a bit more accommodating for us this week, especially later on this week, and the temperatures are nice enough now that outside work is enjoyable.  {In fact, I’ve just come from out on my deck where I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee with only the deer and birds to keep me company.  Ahh, pure bliss.}

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C and I had fun going out and having a nature hunt.  She asked a lot of questions about  pine cones, trees, acorns, and the like.  The acorns and pine cones are now part of my indoor fall decorations… I opted to keep the leaves, twigs and dirt outside, much to C’s dismay. 🙂

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It’s a T!  Well, first she said it was an X.  {To be fair, from where she was standing it was an X.}

I enjoyed teaching about Abraham, and even though I’d just read the story a few months ago in my Bible reading I had already forgotten just how much he and his family had to move around!  I was quickly reminded when we were moving our “tent” (a light blanket held up by whatever was handy) around during the Bible time on Day 2.

She loves that she has her own flashlight to use while we’re “exploring” — I put one in her Explorer Kit from Week 1 — and had a lot of fun using it with her “star cup”.  {P.S.  I had no Styrofoam or plastic cups in my house!  I had to stop by Sonic on the way home from church last Sunday night to get one!  *Sigh* It was such a chore having to drink that whole cherry cheesecake shake.  Although I did have help drinking it.  And it was a small one.  Just a little disclaimer there.}

007C thinks pipe cleaners are one of the best things ever.  They’re fuzzy and can be shaped into pretty much anything.  Really, what’s not to love?

006I changed up this Number Match activity a bit.  I glued the numbers onto blank index cards and then drew the corresponding amount of dots to the other side.  I then cut them in different ways so she’ll instantly know if she’s right.  I plan on using this activity a lot.  C needs to work more on identifying numbers and I believe this could help.

002This is one way we practice and learn shapes.  I got these cards from the Dollar Tree (I love that place) several months ago — I’m sure you can find them at WalMart, Target, etc as well.  I mix them all up and then ask her to find all of the triangles (or whatever shape we’re working on for the week).  Sometimes we name each card and put them in their own piles (as you can see from the above picture).

She enjoyed making the paper tent for Abraham to live in.  Which may or may not have been destroyed by J before I was able to take a picture of it.  We also had an Abraham coloring sheet from What’s In The Bible — they have loads of coloring pages and other activities.

Oh, and we started on a new activity binder this week.  It should help C learn to identify numbers, days of the week, months, seasons, how to write her name, etc.  Once I get it tweaked I’ll show you what I mean — probably sometime next week!

P.S. — We’re taking next week “off” from school so there won’t be a weekly review post.

Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 4 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

I know I’m a few days late posting this, but better late than never, right?  It’s been a crazy few days.  Like, a never ending and completely exhaustingly crazy few days.  (Is “exhaustingly” even a word?  No?  Ah well, it still fits.)

Since this week was all about the letter Z I decided on a rather spur of the moment trip to the zoo… Granted, spur of the moment for me was planning it two days in advance.  But before you start shaking your head at my lack of spontaneity you must know that the closest zoo is a 1.5 hour drive from here.  And anyone with children can tell you that a day trip with munchkins in tow can not be completely successful if it’s not planned in advance.  Can I get an amen? 🙂

I was at least able to pair it with a trip to the closest Hobby Lobby (PS. I love that store.  It’s probably a good thing that the closest one is 1.5 hours away.) to get flowers for my sister’s wedding which was this weekend.  And no, I was not procrastinating about doing the flowers.  They decided about 10 days ago to get married.  Apparently she got all of the spontaneous genes….

But anyway, where was I?  Oh yes, the zoo.  We had such a fun time!  C’s favorite animal at the moment? Zebras!  And that fit right in with learning about Zs.  She was super pumped about the whole experience — as was my 11 month old — and seems to have taken quite a bit away from the experience.

I won’t bore you with pictures of our zoo experience… you know what the animals look like, I’m sure. 🙂

I finally ordered the Wee Sings CD, which was recommended to go along with the GLE curriculum.  It came in at the beginning of this week so we were able to listen to “Who Built the Ark?” every day.  {I personally am not a huge fan of children singing on sing-a-longs, but so far I’ve liked what I’ve heard of this CD.  I’m glad we got it and my daughter loves it.}  By the end of the week she was singing along, especially with the chorus.  Now if you ask her, “Who built the ark?”, she responds with, “Noah! Noah!”

The second day while we were listening to the song we got out all of her stuffed animals (and any other animal we could find) and lined them up in her room.  Her rug became our “ark” and she placed all of the animals in lines on the ark.  I hadn’t realized how many toys she had until we did this activity…. some may have to find new homes soon!

018We enjoyed eating animal crackers as a snack this week.  They even became a learning experience, although it didn’t turn out quite as I had anticipated.  I asked my daughter, “If you have two animals up here and three animals down here, what does that make?”  Her answer?  “A smiley face!!”

Apparently I should have rephrased my question.

027We also made a lion from a paper plate on day 2.  I drew the mouth but C did the rest.  Now she goes around trying to scare her brother by hiding behind it and growling.  So far it hasn’t worked. 🙂

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A few weeks ago I discovered that 3 Dinosaurs has some awesome prewriting practice sheet printables for preschoolers.  Since C isn’t that fond of trying to write her letters I decided to try this with her.   She loves them!  I originally printed them out and put them in sheet protectors (like you see in the above picture) but we use them so much that they’re starting to get crinkled already.  I laminated them today in hopes that they’ll last longer that way.   We work with them a several times a week now and I can already see an improvement in the way she writes.

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She’ll even trace letters for me a lot more willingly now!

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Speaking of learning games, we love the Alphabet Strips from Teachers of Good Things as well.  So versatile!  Right now we’re just using them to match letters, but I’m sure we’ll soon start using them in other ways mentioned on her website.

026I bought some animal stamps at the Dollar Tree a few months ago.  They were definitely worth their price this week when we made our own zoo.  I told C that I wasn’t sure if putting the tiger and the crocodile in the same cage was a good idea but she was adamant.  But so far they’re behaving themselves.

Other things we did this week:

  • We created and began a chore chart, but I’ll have more about that in a separate post.
  • Pretended to be all sorts of different animals.
  • Practiced writing her name.
  • Made Playdoh Z’s.

C had a little bit of trouble saying the letter Z at first.  She kept sticking the tip of her tongue between her teeth so it made more of a “C” sound.  We kept practicing and she got it down pat — what really helped her figure it out was when I told her she needed to hold her mouth like she was brushing her front teeth.  Now she has no problems with it!

That’s about all I can think of right now.  Since I’m running behind on posting this it’s not all still fresh in my mind!

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 3 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

{View previous posts in this series here.}

A is for apple.  Apples, apples, apples.  I think we’re about apple’d out in this happy home.  🙂

But I must say, this is the first week I finally felt… comfortable teaching.  I wasn’t as uptight or rigid about making sure we followed my lesson plans.  Although we did the bulk of the lesson during J’s morning naptime, we still just kind of worked it in through the whole day.  It was a more natural approach, and I really, really liked it.  I think C enjoyed it better as well.

014This is how we always start off our day.  I got this from Confessions Of A Homeschooler and C really enjoys coloring in each day we “do school”, as she puts it.  {P.S.  COAH has tons of free printables on her website so be sure and check it out.}  Every day C likes to count how many she’s colored in as well.  So basically with this one page I have a record of how many days we’ve homeschooled, C works on her coloring skills AND counting skills.  Win!

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This was one of the crafts we did this week.  I hesitated at the finger painting (I’m not a fan of messy stuff) but recently bought some paint dab markers.  They were even on clearance!  Why have I never bought these before??  And y’all, they make stuff like this soooo much easier.  No clean up involved.  Call me lazy if you want; I call it being resourceful of my time. 😀

Anyway, C really enjoyed dabbing on the paint and gluing on the seeds.  I didn’t think regular Elmer’s glue would hold them on but I was wrong.  So far, so good.  It’ll be hanging on our fridge for a few days until it’s added to the treasure chest with her other special papers.

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We bought eight different kinds of apples!  Red delicious, golden delicious, fuji, gala, pink something-or-another, ambrosia, granny smith and jonagold.   We had so many that we ran out of room on our taste testing page!

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Several of the apples were ones I had never tried before so it was a fun experience for the whole family.  We waited until after supper one night so Daddy could help us taste test as well.  C enjoyed using the paint dab marker (told you those things are awesome!) to mark our findings.  As you can see, we just took the sticker off each apple and put that in place instead of writing them all down.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many apples we’ve eaten this week.

020As I type this I can smell that apple sauce simmering away in the slow cooker.  It should be ready in about a hour… I’ll let you know what I think.  So far it smells delicious.  Tomorrow afternoon C and I plan to make an apple pie with some of the leftover apples.  I also plan on taking said apple pie to an extended family lunch on Sunday.  That is one of our services of the week.  Unless we eat it all first.  Then I’ll have to make another next week.

017We used the paint dab markers again to make “apples” on our A.  After I showed her how, C dabbed and then drew on the stems.  I love the apple on the bottom right.  We got a little excited with the marker and added a neck to the top of the apple.  Then she put the stem on top of that!  She makes me smile so much.

015Instead of using real apples to print for our theme adventure on Day One I made some on the computer, cut them out and laminated them.  Then I used dry erase markers to change up what I put on them during the week (Romans 3:23, patterns, etc).  I can totally see us using them for other things in the future.  They’re great for counting, alphabet, matching…. pretty much anything.

019This is a worksheet I got from education.com.  {They have loads of great printables as well.}  I already had these printed from months ago, before I got the GLE curriculum (which focuses on small letters instead of big letters).  I still use these, mostly to reinforce the words that start with whatever letter we’re studying.  C was eating breakfast studying the shape of the week at the time we reviewed this page and decided that all of the A words needed a Cheerio on them!  I told you she makes me smile.

We also enjoyed doing the Apple Tree Craft throughout the week — and yes, I used real paint for that instead of the markers.  I know you were wondering.  For some reason I did not get a picture of it.  I might come back and add one later.

One other thing I wanted to mention:  I have been learning ASL (American Sign Language) slowly over the past few years and have taught both children from a very young age the signs for simple things (ball, food, drink, yes, no, Mama, Daddy, etc).  While we’re having school time each day I try to show C how to finger spell the letter we are learning about that week.

I think that every person should have a basic knowledge of sign language and learning how to finger spell is the root of that.  If you would like to begin this in your own home but don’t have a clue what the signs are — don’t worry, it’s really easy.  And here is a website that has a printable with the alphabet and numbers 1 – 10 to get you started.

See how easy that is??  Who says home school is just for the kids?? 🙂

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 2 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

Previous posts in this series:
To Home School Or Not to Home School?
Our Adventures in Homeschooling:  Pre-K Curriculum and Prep Work
Our Adventures in Homeschooling:  Week 1 Review

The second week of homeschooling.  It was more challenging than I expected.  It wasn’t the schooling that was challenging, it was all of the other little things that can get in the way of schooling that made the week difficult.  You know, like life and stuff.

As I mentioned last week I’ve scheduled our homeschooling time to coincide with J’s morning naps.  That just make things easier for everyone involved (myself especially).  I know there are moms out there schooling six kids and still have a baby or two underfoot during it all… but I’m not them.  I’m sure I’ll eventually get more adept at this but for now I need to focus on one thing at a time.

This week we had a scheduled doctor visit that kind of messed up the whole nap routine, which in turn messed up the school routine as well.  The next day my mom came for a visit and was here all day.  Now don’t get me wrong, I loved our visit and I’m glad she came.  We all enjoyed it immensely.  But it messed up our school routine as well.  In fact, we didn’t even have school that day.  With all of that happening at the beginning of the week I felt like I was off stride for the whole week!

We still enjoyed learning about the letter G though.  C did seem to like drawing her little g’s (draw a circle with a tail!) — but I still had to help.  I can’t even recall the number of words we recited that started with G.  Grow, garden, God, green, grass, gone, gourd… you get the idea.

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These are the books we read this week (along with Bob and Larry’s Creation Vacation, which we own).  I could not find the suggested Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert so we substituted the other two pictured.  C really enjoyed A Green, Green Garden and The Tiny Seed and we read both of those multiple times.  We read Bob and Larry’s Creation Vacation all the time anyway; it’s usually one of the requested before-bed-books.

002C also enjoyed this bean counting game.  By the end of it though, all of the beans were stacked in the #12 slot… but that’s ok too. 🙂

014Pardon this slightly blurry picture, but I had to show off her artwork.  She cut all of the “petals” and glued them on (there may have been more glue used than absolutely necessary…).  I did help with the stem and leaves as I’m sure you can tell.

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I completely forgot about the seeds we put in the plastic baggy for a few days.  Thankfully I remembered today.  I just used seeds we had on hand.  The ones that grew for us were black bean and radish seeds.  The carrot seeds didn’t grow nor did the apple seed from an apple she had been eating that day… although I didn’t really expect that one to grow.

I think this activity is what really helped her grasp the whole concept of seeds producing plants.  It’s so much fun watching her learn and discover things for herself!

Ooh, and I almost forgot!  Our Creation Book!

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This was such a fun activity!  It took me a couple of tries to figure out the best way to work with the contact paper but I finally figured it out.

First I measured 12 inches and folded there (keeping the paper side on the inside) and measured the next 12 inches and cut there.

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I would then peel off the first half and we would decorate as directed.  Then just peel the paper off the other half and press together, starting with the crease.

Easy peasy!

I can’t wait for next week when we learn about the letter A!

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Week 1 Review

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our adventures in homeschooling

Previous posts in this series:
To Home School Or Not to Home School?
Our Adventures in Homeschooling:  Pre-K Curriculum and Prep Work

Like probably every other first time homeschooling parent, I was a bundle of conflicting emotions as we started the week.  Am I prepared?  Is she prepared?  What am I getting myself into?  How badly must I mess up before I give my child a permanent dislike for school or years of therapy?  

You know… the usual mental conversation you have with yourself at a time such as this.

But even with all of the panic there were those tiny seeds of excitement.  There is nothing like new school supplies and a fresh, young mind ready to learn.  Nothing quite like being able to pour your heart and soul into teaching and molding your own child… being responsible for every aspect of their upbringing.  Exciting, challenging and downright scary.  

I am so scared.

But I hear that is a normal part of being a homeschooling parent.  That even the seasoned homeschooling gurus have those moments of fear.  So maybe that’s a good thing.  I wouldn’t be scared if I didn’t care so much.  I want to give her the best I have to give.  All the time.  Even when I’m scared and don’t want to.

And that’s hard.

But oh, so rewarding.

And did I mention hard?

Having exactly one week of homeschooling experience under my belt I’ve come to realize a few things already:

  • The day will not go as planned.  Your “perfect” plans will be derailed.  Get over it and move on.  It’s not about you anyway.
  • Homeschooling happens throughout the day, every day.  There are always opportunities to reinforce what they’ve learned.  Use them.  That’s when they learn the most.
  • You will get frustrated.  The child will get frustrated.  Take a time out and come back to it later.  Don’t let a sour attitude ruin the day.
  • Praise them for the small things.  A healthy self esteem is so important.  And they learn it from you, Mama.

I planned to complete each day of schooling while the baby (J) was having his morning nap.  C’s attention span is normal for a three year old (read: nonexistent) and I knew that mornings would work better for her.  And me.

She took to it far better than I expected.  There have been many days that she asked, “Can we do school again?” while I was cooking supper or right after she got up from her nap.  Oh, what wonderful words.  I guess I’m doing something right.

She really, really enjoyed the scavenger hunt on the first day.  I used masking tape to make X’s around the house to mark the spot where her supplies were hidden.  I left the X’s up for a few days and every time she saw one she’d exclaim, “It’s an X!!”

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The cheese and crackers were a big hit.  She now makes most of her food into X’s.  🙂

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Here we were practicing writing X’s and identifying and drawing rectangles.  She does not enjoy writing letters — she will do so gladly if I help her — so we’re trying to work on that.  Right now I usually end up helping her.  I don’t want to push it too much…  she is only three and has a few years before I’ll start to worry if she can’t write her letters by herself.

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Here we were coloring our “God’s Word is a treasure” treasure box.  It went promptly into our big treasure box to be saved.  She loves to get the box down and look through her treasures — sometimes even a few times a day.

015What’s better than Playdoh X’s?  Not much, according to my daughter.  In fact, by the end of the week she was making X’s with pretty much everything… pencils, construction paper, sticks, her two ponytail braids… (Yeah, that was really cute. :))

Overall, I thought it was a great first week!  There were a few trying moments — and one day when I decided to put everything up until we were both in a better mood — but that’s all part of it.  The point is that she’s learning.  She’s learning her letters, shapes and other things that are stepping stones to becoming an independent adult.  But most importantly, she’s learning more about God and what the Bible says.  

And I’m blessed to be the one teaching her.

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Our Adventures in Homeschooling: Pre-K Curriculum and Prep Work

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our adventures in homeschooling

The Curriculum

In my previous post about homeschooling I promised to show the curriculum we’re using this year.   At the beginning of this whole process I had a few guidelines in place for finding a curriculum.  It had to be (1) Bible based, (2) easy to prepare, and (3) really cheap.

We certainly didn’t have the money to spend on some of the curricula I’ve seen that fit guidelines 1 and 2 — no matter how good they are.  My daughter has only just turned three so this is just a “warm-up” year for us.  I wanted to make sure homeschooling is the thing for us before we made any major financial commitments.  But I also wanted to start teaching her as well.  She catches onto things so quickly.  She’s impressed me with the things she has already learned and I want to feed her hunger for knowledge.

And I absolutely adore the curriculum we’ve chosen.  It’s called God’s Little Explorers, written by Stacie Nelson over at Motherhood on a Dime.  Did I mention how much I love it?

Stacie has done such a great job putting it together that even someone as teaching-challenged as me feels confident enough to try it.  She even has each lesson available individually for download — for FREE!  You can’t beat that!

I chose to purchase the total package though, and I am glad I did.  I like having everything together in one download.  I also love the extras she included in the purchase package (especially the assessment).  It was well worth the price to me.

So with the curriculum chosen I went to work putting together the extra resources and reviewing the first few lessons.

The Prep Work

First, I printed the lessons and whatnot from the GLE download.  I printed all of the lessons (and most of the extras) in black and white to save on ink costs.  I only printed in color when necessary for the learning experience.  Then I stuck them in sheet protectors and put them in a binder.  I’m hoping to also be able to use this curriculum with my son in a few years so I wanted to make sure they last.

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I downloaded printable coloring sheets from several different websites for each week (the ones I used came from What’s In the BibleMaking Art Fun and Calvary Curriculum).  My daughter likes to color (like most children!) and it’s good motor skills work.

I hit up the Dollar Tree or the back-to-school sales going on to stock up on the supplies we would need.  I spent less than $20 on supplies and feel I have enough to last the entire school year.  I bought glue, glue sticks, a magnifying glass, scissors, colored pencils, a dry erase page protector, craft sticks, stickers, pom poms, markers and a few other odds and ends.  We already had some things, like crayons, construction paper, hole punch, dry erase markers, etc.

I also purchased the Read And Learn Bible Stacie mentioned in this post.  I’m hoping to order the Wee Sings CD soon as I’m sure C would enjoy it.  She loves to sing — especially while using my mascara tube as a microphone!  We already had the first What’s In the Bible DVD and I’m hoping to have enough Swagbucks* saved up to purchase Vol. 2 by the time we need that in a few weeks.

Then I got out some paper and began writing down everything I would need for each lesson.  I have each week on a separate piece of paper and I stuck them right before the lesson plans for that week in my GLE binder.  Some items on the list are things I can do ahead of time so I try to get that done and marked off the list.  Most of them will need to be done the night before we work on that lesson but at least I have a list and it’s easy to knock it out then instead of scrambling around during the lesson because I ran out of construction paper/tape/whatever.  (I know how I am!)

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{Pardon my chicken scratch; I didn’t intend on taking pictures of this when I wrote it!}

I didn’t really want to spend a lot of money purchasing the recommended Book Bag books each week (although I’m sure there will be some we want to buy) so I went to our local library to see what I could find there.  Thankfully (for the first three weeks at least) I was able to find most of them.  If the library didn’t have the book then I tried to locate one that would be comparable.  (For example, our library did not have Planting a Rainbow by L. Ehlert so I got Growing Vegetable Soup by L. Ehlert instead.)   I also tried to use books we already had on hand.  (Like Bob and Larry’s Creation Vacation to use during week two).

I did put together some of the Learning Bag ideas — and some of them I had already done.  I love the idea of Learning Bags (aka Busy Bags — my daughter just calls them “games”) and we use them regularly.   They’re a great sanity saver while I’m trying to make supper or put the baby down for a nap.  If C is occupied and happy then we’re all happy. 🙂

And that’s about all I’ve done so far, other than organize a place for C to do her school work and keep her things.  I’m actually looking forward to beginning next week, albeit a bit nervously.

Stay tuned next weekend to hear about how we did for the first week!  Fingers crossed!

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To Home School or Not To Home School?

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to homeschool or not

Several weeks ago I decided to begin easing my way into homeschooling by starting with my daughter C (who just turned three) this fall.  Even though I’m a SAHM, I had never even really considered homeschooling and this was not an easy decision for me to make.

Homeschooling is for smart people.  You know, school teachers who left their career to stay at home with their children.  Children need to go to school, right?  Don’t they need the social interaction they learn from being around other children (and someone other than Mummy)?  And everyone knows that home schooled kids are just a little… weird.   A little too sheltered.  Maybe a little too smart.

Oh the lies we tell ourselves.

If I’m being completely honest, I just didn’t want to home school.  I am selfish.  I wanted the time that the kids were at school to be my time.

I still do.

There.  I said it.

However, as much as I want to be selfish I also want what is best for my children.  I want to be the Mum that God wants me to be.  This is my calling; to raise these precious babes of mine.  And while I’m sure I’ll never get a Mother Of the Year award, I do want to look back on my life and be proud of — at least most of — the choices I made concerning our children.  God entrusted them to my husband and myself.   And my husband trusts me to raise them while he is out earning a living and providing for our family.   And let’s face it, they’re only here for a short time.

So if I’m able to home school, why wouldn’t I?

It sounds like such an easy decision to make when you lay it out like that, doesn’t it?  So why am I still hesitating?

In a word:  fear.

I’m afraid that I won’t have enough patience with my little girl.  We butt heads so often already, this young independent one (totally don’t know who she got that from).   I’m afraid that I will not teach her enough and she’ll be behind.  I’m afraid I’ll try and teach her too much, too quickly and turn her off on learning.  I don’t know what the proper channels are to be government approved to home school or what goes into it.   I’m afraid of so many things.

But basically it all boils down to this:  I’m afraid I’ll fail.  That I won’t be enough.

So to get over my feelings of inadequacy I’ve come up with a homeschooling few rules:

  • Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead.  I always feel more confident if I’m prepared.  And I know what’s coming up I can get help if I need it.
  • Make it fun.  If it’s fun then it’s not “learning” (even though it is).  Making it fun will hopefully help keep attitudes in check (both hers and mine).
  • Take it one year at a time.  I may find that teaching is just not for me.  Or it may get to the point that it’s better for everyone involved if we call it quits.  I just don’t want to add stress to myself by deciding right now that we’re going to home school til college.
  • Take it one day at a time.  Who says school has to happen during school hours?  The beauty of home schooling is that it can happen any time and anywhere.  Some days you just need to play “hookie”.
  • Give grace.  Give myself grace if we decide to stop homeschooling.  Give myself grace when I have those feelings of doubt or when I screw up (because it’s going to happen).  Give my children grace when they screw up (because that’s going to happen too).  In those times just remember to take a step back and give grace.  And pray.

Definitely pray.  Because that’s what holds everything together.  That’s what holds me together.

In a few weeks we will begin our home schooling adventures.  I’ve picked out the curriculum (which I love; but more on that next week) and prepared a few weeks in advance.  And I will try to blog each weekend about our week.

I think I’m ready.

Wish us luck.  And please pray.