Personally, I can't homeschool in a super structured rigorous way. I hate the detailed teachers guides that don't show WHAT the goal is for that lesson but only the 3 pages of monologue that I'm (apparently) supposed to use in teaching it. After 6 years of homeschooling (I started getting serious about what to homeschool when my oldest was 4.... I wouldn't recommend starting then, but most of us will still do that anyway) I have finally owned my personality and style.
Our style might be totally NOT what would work for you. That's okay! That's the beauty of homeschooling because we can tailor it to fit our own family! Perhaps the following will still have some nuggets of encouragement, a smattering of ideas, or at least it could be entertaining. Anyway, the Grandma enjoys reading this so there you go! FYI, my Mom was MY teacher as I was homeschooled all growing up too! My admiration grows for her as I travel this journey of home education for myself.
"Choosing Joy and Not Planning Too Much." Basically you just write down a little check list of what books and pages and such you want each child to do the following day.
Big picture with the spiral checklist --
*Keep in mind how long you know a child will take with that page or activity
*Plan less to make the most room for creativity and spontaneous learning
*Think of the basics to cover so you don't pile on too much - Reading, Writing, Math
* Put a star by the ones that they will need to do with you or near by
*If they don't get it all done in a day, simply write it the next day
My personality also really just doesn't do so great with the big "master list" type thing. In my head I have planned subjects and ideas and am always gathering more ones! I have resources ready and waiting to be used. But they aren't written down. Ug.. Just.. no. RATHER, I have shelves and baskets devoted to subjects and games. Some of these resources are handier to get to because I'm planning to use them sooner and some are in other locations that will be rotated in later. So when I write the check list for each kid I can flip through some books and look around at what I already have handy and right there! Though still much of it is open to their choice as well, I usually rotate who might get to pick a game for instance and they can choose one right off the game shelf.
Big picture with planning-
*If you feel confident with master lists and they make you comfortable use them!
*If boxed curriculum is your comfort zone and makes you happy totally use it!
*If master lists make you shudder and you'd rather do a more visual approach to resources do the shelf or basket or drawer method like me. Organize like subject with like subject and label if you can.
*There is also a combination of the above where you buy books from a set curriculum but don't use the teachers plan.
*You likely already know what stresses you out and if you are more of a visual hands on person or if you are the sort to find freedom in a detailed list. If you don't know this about yourself then try stuff and observe what brings peace and what brings stress. Throw out the stressful stuff!
|Today, these books were in our morning basket, but it changes pretty quickly as we go through them.|
I talked about morning baskets in my previous post, but just to do a re-cap.....
Big picture for a "Morning Basket"- book topics to consider
* Something sciency (could even be a kids encyclopedia!)
* A Bible story book or missionary stories (if you are religious at all and that would be appropriate for your family. You could add a passage or song to memorize if you wished in this category as well.)
*A book or two that enjoys some part of our language. This could be a poetry book, limericks, tongue twisters, joke book, etc.
*That book that you thought would be amazing and have had on your shelf and never got to.
*One chapter book (these can all come in any order, but I like the chapter book at the end of the reading!) that they are excited about.
*They can color, play with silly putty, do lego, or mindlessly (appear) to not be listening while you read these. I basically just want them in the room and not being too disruptive.
*Read short short bits from each book. Maybe a page or two. Play it by ear, but if the whole time takes longer than an hour or your kids attention is seriously flagging just cut it shorter for that day!
*Consider the younger kids in this if you need to. A few picture books for them can help and you can interspersed in between the other books.
*If your child is writing poetry or their own picture books of any kind you can add those to your basket and read it along with the other books!
*Library books are great to throw in here because if everyone hates them you don't feel like you have to finish that book! Just take it back and get a different one. :)
My favorite of the ones she's written so far is this -
your tail's a lemur.
your mask is a weasel.
in a log, in a tree,
in a hole, in a patch
|I had this spiral bound myself. It doesn't come that way in case you wondered!|
|My 8 year old is enjoying this one as she really likes to work with me when she does school. You can find it at this link.|
|I loved how much time she spent coloring this picture while I read. She doesn't always do her school with patience and do the best work she can. She's been known to be sloppy on purpose so it's lovely to see her work so carefully on her picture|
Gel pens are seriously fun, am I right? My 8 year old finished coloring the picture above by the time I'd finished reading from our books and then we wrote the story together. I started with a sentence and then she wrote a sentence! (While we were doing this my older daughter was doing the word search shown previously by the meal planning page.)
The Big Picture for the story writing part of school--
*Writing original content isn't about learning spelling and grammar.
Learning to spell happens in copy work and spelling practice time. The purpose of the story writing is to connect the thoughts of the writer to their pen. If your 8 year old (or 13 year old!) Doesn't spell a word right when writing original thoughts don't worry about it, and there isn't even a need to bring it up in that context right then. *Focus on the creative side "what do you want to say?"
The parent can act as scribe for the child so that they don't have to dumb down their language to match their mechanics.
*Children almost always can read and understand at a higher level then they can write. This is normal growth for learning to read and write.
Sounding out, invented spelling, typing rather than handwriting, dictating to someone else what they want to write, cutting up typed or magnetized words to manipulate are all valid ways to express their inner voice (and this is as long as they need! 7 to 14 even!)
*If we can keep spelling and grammar lessons separate from the emotions and sharing of their inner thoughts and person hood they will eventually connect the two without trauma and hurt feelings.
Creative writing and editing use two different parts of your brain, and if you insist on the editing side to work while doing a first draft of original writing to make it all perfect, then the creative side will often get stuck and creativity and original thought will almost always stall.
I am so happy to see my daughter wanting to write her own thoughts! The fact that she can read them and I can even figure out what she is trying to say too is a huge success!
|Note our little homeschool helper "Pumpkin" the hamster who is put on pages of books or in a play grocery cart and pushed around the house for about 10 minute increments through out the day! She is super sweet and fun.|
|Really interesting show by the way!|
|My 5 year old found a page with tea cups in her Coloring book for two!|
|Such a sweet book! It also has places to write in it so if you were taking dictation for your little one you could totally just use this book like a journal of your teaching interactions and color together! We have a lot of the thinking tree coloring books, but this is totally near the top of my favorites list. :)|
I sat between my 5 and 8 year old girls while we watched the show so I could color with both of them (they both really like that) and my 8 year old finished her math when the documentary was over. She was excited to use a calculator for the multiplication part, and I always point out how we say it and what it means "2 times 10. That is ten, two times." Or ten twice, and so on sometimes adding in manipulatives or other visuals to help. It's been great to see math click for my girls as they grow and we talk through these concepts.
|I'm loving our little "coffee table" that came from the dumpster! Well, it was next to the dumpster at our apartments here anyway. I brought it inside and cut off the legs at the exact height to work with the kid chairs I had. You've got to get creative with multiple purpose areas when you homeschool in a 1,000 sq ft apartment!|
See, when we started lunch and the tea documentary the handy man at our apartment complex had to come to check out our dishwasher. Which is totally on the fritz. My husband spent a couple hours the day before doing dishes for me and I didn't really want to make another dinner by scratch and have tons more dishes to deal with (we even use paper plates already. It's just a lot of people and a lot of meals all at home every day!) So after the stories and snuggles with the little one I announced my plan!
Also, hello, we had Jasmine tea! Furthering the "Story of Tea" documentary experience.
|Jasmine tea! We had two pots of this.|
|It had rained while we were eating and after the grocery store the sky looked like this! Everyone ooohed and awwed.|
My 10 year old saw the clouds and pulled out some information that she'd hear me read from the weather book that morning about clouds! It's always nice to hear them talking about things that we've learned, but it usually only happens in normal conversation and not when someone asks "What did you do in school today?" -- never would she say "I learned that the reason clouds look darker before rain is because the clouds are so full of water that the light can't shine through them. Clouds that are less full of water droplets allow room for light to pass through." Nope.. the usual answer is something like "We played and watched shows today." But, that's okay. If learning feels like play and the documentaries are put in the "show" category like any other movie I think we are doing well.
The splat of stuff there is how the room was left for the day. We'll just pick right back up tomorrow and at some point it will be tidy, but just long enough to pull something else back out.
Enjoy the moments unhurried.
Slow down the orders of what to do next and look at and truly see your child.
Be curious with them.
Be spontaneous in little or big ways.
Get the important stuff in and let the rest go for another time.
Create the routine and culture in your home that you can appreciate yourself.