A lifestyle, an experience, a process.
As we tip-toe into the environment of education and school age kids,
I am learning a lot about myself and my family in the process.
I know I told you that I would share more details about our homeschool journey with you, but I haven't been very good at that.
I decided to finally write a post and let you know where we're at,
what we've been using, and how we've been liking it.
This will likely get long, and only a handful of people will find it interesting, so feel free to click away if this isn't your thing. :)
I tend to get a little nerdy when it comes to details and researching and learning about new things.
I feel like education starts from the time kids are babies,
so in a way, we've been loosely 'homeschooling' for a long time already.
I started doing some workbooks and printables, along with more directed learning activities with my three oldest kids around age 3-4.
Nothing formal at all, but things they would ask to do, and that they loved.
Rystin was about 4 when we made the decision that, for now,
learning at home was the path we would start out on.
And, as I do, I began to research, review products, ask questions, listen to podcasts and videos, read books, and on it goes.
There are many different homeschooling styles, from taking the typical public school routine and doing it at home, all the way to unschooling, where there is no formal schedule or planned learning involved.
We fall somewhere in the middle,
but I don't think we fit exactly into any one style.
(Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, Child-led, and so on).
I looked into a lot of different things that are out there, but honestly,
it's never ending, so that can be overwhelming.
I sometimes wonder if I research TOO much, and if I'm better off just letting things flow as they happen naturally.
But that's not who I am.
And I feel like right now, when we are just starting and learning,
and I have time to dig in a little deeper,I would like to see our options
and have a clear path of the direction we want to go.
For our family, our Christian faith is the most important aspect of education.
I don't think that every single subject has to be taught in a religious centered perspective, but to have a Biblical base is the core of our home.
Rystin would beg me to 'do school' with him, so I felt like I should work with him, at his pace, and let him learn in a way that fit him.
I didn't really want to start an official 'Kindergarten' curriculum with him at 4, so we continued to use various workbooks that were at his level.
I began to realize that most of those actually were K level, and he was hungry to learn more, as well as quickly growing tired of workbooks.
that I had collected through the years,
I came up with a rough plan for how to begin 'official' homeschool.
The above photos are some of the curriculum choices that we've used so far.
The 'My Father's World' style really appealed to me, so I eventually chose that to be our core, or the spine, of our studies.
Now, I use the word 'studies' loosely because at this point, Rystin was still only 4, and I wasn't sure about jumping into a full Kindergarten curriculum.
I ordered the full K set (God's Creation from A-Z)
used from a Facebook page, and when I got it in the mail, we were so excited!
I could tell that, academically, Rystin would have no problem jumping into it.
I still hesitated knowing he was young to be starting K.
We finished up the workbooks he was doing, and at the end of August (4 months from turning 5) we started in.
Now you'll have to understand, that everything I share is not in a structured schedule. I'm sharing with you the things we use, and how we do them, but it is not (by any means!) on a consistent routine.
Some things we're lucky to hit once a week, some things we do most days.
Don't look at this as the standard, just as some ideas or reviews of things that work (or don't work) for us when we do them.
We are approaching Kindergarten in a very relaxed way.
We do school most days if we're just hanging out at home, but if we have other plans during the day, it's no big deal to skip it.
We often skip!
If Rystin doesn't feel like doing it, we quit early.
If we're having fun, we add more in.
There are things we try to get to every time,
and there are things we only do occasionally.
If it takes us 2 years to get through K, I'm fine with that.
If we finish and we want to slowly start 1st grade, I'm fine with that.
We're pretty laid back around here,
even though it may appear very organized and planned.
I'm not sure how else to share, other than to show you WHAT we use,
and HOW we use it.
The WHEN we do it is pretty flexible.
My Father's World (MFW) is considered a boxed, all-in-one curriculum that covers most essential topics needed (especially for lower grades).
Kindergarten is laid out in units, each unit teaching a letter, a topic, and a Biblical concept (as well as additional things added in here and there).
For example: Week 1: 'S' :: Sun :: Jesus is the Light of the World
Week 2: 'M' :: Moon :: I am the Light of the World (reflecting Christ)
Week 3: 'L' :: Leaf :: I will Live and Grow in Jesus
Each week includes a lesson plan that breaks everything up by topic,
into quick, easy days. I love the gentle approach!
The following pages include notes detailing how to do things,
or ideas for activities.
It can be very structured, if you follow the lesson plans exactly.
Or, if you're like us, you do what works for you, add other things,
and leave some things out. It is a great starting point,
and I hope to use MFW in future grades as well.
I love their scope and sequence and the priorities and
Biblical views that they hold. So far, we have been loving it!
Below are some pictures of the lesson plan and notes pages.
The far right picture is just my own lesson plan book that I designed
to keep track of what we've done and what we've added, for future reference.
It has made it fun, but also challenging in some ways, as she wants to also do all the pages and things that Rystin does that she isn't able to.
Usually dollar store workbooks and things keep her happy during that time.
It is neat that this curriculum is fun for many ages though!
Janae (1) also likes to be involved.
This is NOT easy.
School usually happens during her naptime!
I'm also learning that Rystin does better as far as learning new concepts, or tackling the more advanced things, when he's one on one with me.
When needed, I have been trying to take turns give both him and Vayah a little time for 'just them' to work on things for their specific levels.
Not a lot of math is included in MFW-K.
Rystin has proven to enjoy numbers, so I'm in the process
of pulling some more math into our days.
I used the above printable workbook
(Math Lessons for a Living Education Book 1) to supplement at first.
It is really neat, bring math to life through stories.
Unfortunately, it's very slow moving, and he is past that.
The books are no longer free, so I can't print the next one without buying it,
and I feel like he doesn't love working from it anyways.
For now, I'm going to work a little from the Easy Peasy website.
This is a free, online curriculum for k-12 that uses lots of
games and activities to teach concepts.
I also may buy a Life of Fred book to read with him.
We also sometimes use the Rod and Staff 'F' book for logic and hands on stuff.
MFW seems to have a decent phonics system, but occasionally we will read things from the Hooked on Phonics or A beka books that we have on hand.
Keep in mind that almost all of my supplies I've bought used (even found at second hand stores or garage sales) or had given to me by others.
Unfortunately, curriculum can be very expensive,
depending on which route you decide to take!
As far as HOW we homeschool...
well an ideal day (which rarely happens) would look something like this:
-Breakfast, dishes, getting dressed and ready for the day
-Memory Work (using the rotating notecard box pictured above... this is a blog post in and of itself. I got the idea online and it has been amazing for us!)
Once Janae is napping...
(sometimes that's morning, sometimes it's closer to after lunch)
-Prayer and devotion
-Board work including calendar, number chart, etc (the upright board above)
-We'll then do the main things in the MFW lesson plan, sometimes more than one day worth, because they are very light.
-This typically includes a worksheet, some writing and/or phonics, an activity, and a Bible lesson.
-At this point I may find something else for Vayah to do and work on phonics or math with Rystin, switching them later to work on letters with Vayah.
That's about it!
We do art and science projects all together when that happens.
We often use youtube or other things online to learn more about the topics
we are studying, as well as library books.
We love to play educational games,
and our favorite lately has been Crazy A's.
I'm not a 'saver', so I often take photos of their projects and papers instead of keeping them all, as well as activities they do.
I'll included them in a family album eventually (major to-do lists there!).
I shared a few of their pictures above.
(hopefully it's not cutting them off funny like it's showing as I edit this!)
All in all, we are really enjoying this process.
So far, we are moving right along
and we may just finish the K program this year after all.
I realize we're still in the 'honeymoon' phase, and it WILL get much harder as things need to get more scheduled and consistent.
The love of learning will probably wear off a little.
(Some days we already see some poor attitudes about less desirable work).
I will probably get tired and more lazy.
But for now, we are having fun with where we are at,
and I'm learning right along with them!
I'm sure we will change and adjust a ton as the kids grow and our family dynamics change, but this is where we are for now.
You can teach them but you can't make them learn
And if you made it to the end, and you're still in the mood to read, I want to share this great article that a friend shared on FB today.
I'd recommend it for moms of any age!
What I'm Never Going to Tell You