Wednesday, August 10, 2016

So, we're a homeschool family + our super simple pre-k routine

It is funny to think how many times I went back and forth about my decision to homeschool. A little over a year ago, I shared I was still on the fence but wasn't sure sending my oldest to preschool was the right fit for our family. Six months later, I basically said the opposite, that I thought my lifestyle as a work-at-home mom and my daughter's need for social interaction meant we were best suited for preschool a few days a week followed by public kindergarten next year.

Here we are, a couple weeks into figuring out how to homeschool for pre-k.

It wasn't really a complex decision. I feel like I should say I made lists of pros and cons or I prayed long and hard about the choice, but really we chose what made the most sense for our family. I am due with a new baby any day now and Clementine would have started preschool last week. I was having trouble wrapping my mind around loading three kids up in the car, twice a day, to get her to school each day. What's more, I was finding myself more drawn to the idea of having her home with us, at least for this next year. Having been homeschooled myself, I had a pretty good idea of the flexibility it provides and how easily curriculum can be adjusted to a child's unique needs. I loved the idea of offering Clementine a tailor-made education while we nail down some of the stepping blocks she will need if she ends up in public school next year.

So, I started ordering stuff. My personality is well suited to a laid-back approach, so I simply started piecing together a few different ideas I had seen on blogs or read in books for our mish-mash of Montessori and Waldorf education.

Since I have had several questions from friends on on my Instagram, I wanted to share what we have planned for the year. Of course, know I am not a seasoned homeschooled mom and this will likely adjust over time.

Our Days
We plan to homeschool four days a week. The girls spend one day with their grandma, so we take that day off. Since that day migrates throughout the week, I planned our days as Day A and Day B instead of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

My rhythm for our days is heavily inspired by Jane at Salt+Sea. She uses block scheduling for her younger kids and I found that approach brilliant since I hope to keep our time at the school table limited to make space for free play and plenty of time outdoors. We don't typically spend more than an hour and a half working at the table. Many of our lessons migrate outdoors or involve longer crafts, but I don't count that as table time. My goal was to avoid antsyness by keeping Clementine active and limiting how much she was required to sit still.

Our days are broken down into "head, heart and hands," inspired by the Waldorf Educational philosophy. Head is our main subjects, heart is Bible and character building and hands is learning practical skills and handwork. I didn't make art a part of our daily rhythm since I have found ways to lace it into our main subjects.

Day A:
Head: Maths and World Studies
Heart: Bible story and memory verse
Hands: Skill of the week (we learned to braid the first week and we are working on learning to use a needle right now)

Day B:
Head: Handwriting + Phonics and Nature Studies
Heart: Character focus and matching coloring page or art project
Hands: Practical skill (cooking, cleaning, etc...)


Our Resources
As I mentioned above, we are using a mish-mash of resources instead of a curriculum. Here is what I have found and loved so far.

Maths: focusing on counting forwards and backwards, basic math concepts such as equal, less than, more than, addition and subtraction. 
- This Montessori Math Board
- These wooden people
- Small chalkboard and chalk

World Studies: focusing on developing a global perspective, understanding how people live differently all over the world.
- This awesome book, Give Your Child the World, filled with age appropriate book lists for ages 4 to 12.
- The library! Once a week, I sit down and request books for the next week based on a theme and print out coloring pages to go with that theme.

Handwriting + Phonics
- We use a sand tray, play dough, a chalkboard + chalk and Pre-K writing paper I picked up at Mardels
- Phonics is still a work in progress, I originally didn't plan on teaching Clementine to read but she is showing interest so we are planning on starting Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons after the baby arrives.

Nature Studies
- We are using these guidebooks, along with plenty of library books, to guide our VERY relaxed nature studies this year.
- The girls both have magnifying glasses and we plan to get a pair of binoculars when we order the guidebook on birds.


For Mama:
I am reading How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way and Understanding Waldorf Education.
I have also learned a lot by following Peaceful Preschool on Instagram and reading Salt + Sea and Cloistered Away.

Are you homeschooling this year? What ages? I would love to hear any great tips you have for this newbie homeschooling mom. 

*Note: I'm sorry my links don't look like links, working on fixing that. If you scroll over the text you can see anytime I mention a product or book you can click the link.

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