Right now, I'm homeschooling my five year old and my almost-three year old. So, let's start with what I'm not doing, because otherwise you'll probably read this and wonder just what I'm thinking. I'm not into tot school. I won't strap my child into a high chair and feed them only red snacks so they can learn about red (yes, I totally overheard some ladies discussing this at the park!) I'm not using any particular method, though I am taking inspiration from a number of methods. I won't make my kids sit at the table and do worksheets. I'm not unschooling, either - not strictly at least. Radical unschooling is a bit much for me, especially considering Dr. Scientist's job takes us all over the world with little notice and the requirements to homeschool (or whether we can) are constantly changing. So, what am I doing? Mostly, child-directed learning, inspired by various curricula, with the routine mostly based on Oak Meadow.
We have a few rules and responsibilities for each of us. The children's responsibilities include:
1. Participation. They have a few things they can choose to do during the day: school work, housekeeping, playing downstairs (they have a playroom with a balance beam, a slide, a work bench, kitchen tools, costumes, etc.), or playing outside.
2. Being respectful to me, each other, and anyone else we happen to be around.
3. No playing with or asking for media - TV, tablet, video games - until Daddy is home (or 5pm, because sometimes, being in the military, he's gone). Then they can have one hour.
4. Help me prepare the curriculum for the week.
My responsibilities include:
1. Create the curriculum each week, with their input.
2. Set up 1-2 play dates each week.
3. Set up and take them to 1-2 outside lessons each week.
4. Be respectful and not pushy.
All that said, here is what a typical day looks like:
Wake up. Have breakfast. Personal Hygiene. Then we start school.
Circle time - we put a blanket on the floor, sit on it, light a candle. We start with a verse from Oak Meadow, then continue with several songs, especially ones that have motions to go along with them. We do a closing verse, also from Oak Meadow. Then, we start working on one of our weekly lessons - the children mostly choose these. Lessons from this week are below:
1. Each week Bugbug has a letter, and he writes this is his morning notebook. Usually Speck just colors in her notebook. This week in particular, we're reviewing A, B, C, and D, and he's learning words that can be made with these letters. He puts these together by himself.
2. Learning about bees and other pollinators - discussing plant biology (and relating it to human biology) and how and why pollination occurs. We also watched a video on youtube of starting a bee colony, and several videos of bees pollinating flowers. In order to explain how the pollen sticks to the hairs on the bees' legs, the children "drank nectar" from one of my hands while dipping their heads in (gluten free) flour - pollen - in my other hand.
3. Learning about stars - what they're made of, how far away they are, the sun is a star, etc.
4. The number 2 for Speck and the number 3 for Bugbug. They write these, and draw things that occur in that number. We're also doing a line painting for Speck and a triangle painting for Bugbug, where the colors will mix into new colors.
5. Bugbug will work on memorizing my phone number. (This was mine; the kids didn't come up with it - he just needs to know it.)
They have free play time every morning and afternoon, along with chores to do. We don't have a schedule as much as a vague routine we follow.
|A palm tree made of beeswax; made during discussion of conservation|
That's actually about it. They guide the curriculum, and I make sure to learn as much as I can so I can help them learn about it. We use the internet (a lot of youtube videos!) as a resource, along with books of fairy tales, books of mazes (I'm fond of Kumon mazes, and the mazes from Krazydad). We have a lot of art supplies - beeswax for modeling, beeswax crayons, normal crayons, colored pencils, sketchbooks and watercolor paper, watercolors, etc. They have a bookcase full of books they can access at any time, and a bookcase full of books we read together (my signed children's books, etc.)
|One of the measuring sticks we made - the kids painted them and helped mark inches, then predicted snowfall.|
We've made sock puppets, and a "wind sock". We made sticks to measure snow and created hypotheses about how much snow would fall. We've learned about architecture, and some basic physics. Honestly, it's incredibly fun, and it's reinforcing the bond my children share. They do see other children, and there is plenty of time for free play. They both have exceptional social skills for their age - they know how to introduce themselves and their family, they know to say "excuse me" when they bump into someone or stand in the way - they know "please" and "thank you" and "I'm sorry", and I've never made them say any of these things - they learn them because I use them. I enjoy watching them learn, and seeing the clever things they come up with. I hope to get even more kinks worked out as we go along, and I love that I'm learning along with the children.
There are going to be So. Many. Pictures. below. Enjoy :)
There are going to be So. Many. Pictures. below. Enjoy :)
|Afternoon book - labeled with the date we started this book and the child's name. Their math and science notes.|
|Morning book - labeled with the date we started this book and the child's name. Their language arts and history notes.|
|School drawer, which has their notebooks, sock puppets, lots of crayons and other art materials!|
|Kindergarten curriculum book from Oak Meadow|
|Family science book for this year|
|My science notes on Oviparous and Viviparous|
|My science notes on Newton's third law|
|My science notes on hydrophobic|
|A watercolor over beeswax demonstrating "hydrophobic"|
|Colored water - demonstrating freezing and also for painting in the snow!|
|A "Tornado" in a bottle - weather/meteorology|
|Some other sort of beeswax tree...|
|Gluten free Crescent rolls we made while discussing the letter "C"|
|Materials - modeling wax, beeswax crayons, watercolors|
|Kumon mazes, and pencils - they have pencil grips - Dr. Scientist and I both still hold pencils wrong!|
|Some of our inspiration!|