I’ve had a few questions about homeschool and how it’s going. I realize it sounds confusing because we are actually doing both preschool and homeschool. I am viewing this as my practice year, since Hailey is not scheduled to go to kindergarten until next fall (2017). While many of her friends are in preschool 4/5 days a week (mornings) this year, she is going 3 days a week. The other two days, Kaitlyn is in preschool which leaves those two mornings open for Hailey and I to tackle “school” on our own.
We are only one month in to our practice year and I have already been really surprised by several things.
The effectiveness of one on one teaching.
I expected it to be helpful of course, but having time to be with Hailey one on one has been more productive than I imagined. Without distractions, we can dig more deeply into topics that interest her. I’m able to follow her lead and incorporate whatever we are working on to whatever she is excited about that day. For example, Halloween is all the rage around our house right now. Therefore the books we read, the words we spell, the things we count and add all have to do with pumpkins, trick-or-treating and other spooky fun. Having the ability to completely control the content to keep her engaged keeps her excited. For the things that trip her up, I’m able to slow down, explain and demonstrate more thoroughly until it “clicks” for her using the learning style that works best for her. It all runs more smoothly than I could have predicted.
My comfort in switching things up.
When fellow homeschool friends would say they would make things up/alter as they go it would honestly freak me out. I wanted a plan and to follow it closely. However, I’ve found that as we move through The Homegrown Preschooler curriculum (which I love and will continue to use for Kaitlyn), that she is too advanced for parts of it. The beauty of homeschool is that rather than have her go idle while she counts marbles for another day, we can move forward, keeping her challenged. And it keeps me challenged too as I find new activities for us to do.
Working on sight words with a side of cookie
I’ve googled several sources for what children need to know by first grade. Bless the internet for its plethora of information! Now I am working on approaching the tasks on the list a little at a time. If we choose to officially do kindergarten as homeschool next year, I will look for a more concrete curriculum to follow, but for now, this is working well.
How little time it takes.
Preschool aged kids are learning so must just by living life day to day that the purposeful “schooling” really doesn’t take a lot of time. The 1-2 hours we do on the 2 days we have together feels like plenty for the age and stage she is at. I was worried it wouldn’t be enough and while I would prefer to have the other 3 mornings with her as well, it has given me a taste of what doing homeschool full time for kindergarten would be like and I like it.
So what exactly have we been doing?
I’ve taken some ideas from The Homegrown Preschooler, like the My World Book. Her assignment was to take her camera and snap 15 pictures of things that were important/special to her. Seeing what she chose (pictures of the family, the fireplace because she liked cuddling) was really sweet and funny. When she came back with her 15 pictures, we printed them and she pasted them into a book. Then I helped her spell a sentence that she wanted to go with each page.
I’m excited to have her do one at the beginning of each school year to watch how her world changes through her eyes.
With math, we’ve been working on counting to 120. We count everything, play hide and seek (count to 50!), do math workbooks, work on number puzzles, etc.
Though I never really intended to do workbooks on the regular, Hailey really likes them. We’ve worked our way through Kumon number books and picked up a couple new ones this week.
Though I’m not trying to pile too much on at once, we also are going to start working on money soon. She is really interested in money right now and enjoys taking her purse with her places to buy things. I think it’s a great opportunity to capitalize on her interest. I even picked up some play money to help!
*local friends- both homeschooling and not, I stumbled across The Homeschool Room off of exit 23 off 77 and it’s fantastic! It’s 100% consignment and has great deals on books (Magic Tree House, Fancy Nancy, etc), as well as educational tools. Check it out if you can!
Concerns at This Point
My excitement with homeschool does not come without concerns.
For starters, I do wonder how Hailey will feel when many of her preschool friends go to public school next year and she does not. I don’t worry so much about socialization, we’ll still have activities and possibly a co-op, but I worry about her feeling left out. If I’m being logical, I feel like this is me projecting, but still.
I am researching co-ops as a way for us both to feel connected to our local homeschool community (which is large and strong) and believe that will be very important for us if we choose to take this path.
I also am realizing what a true commitment homeschooling is for the parents. I expected it to be of course, but I spend a decent amount of time figuring out what we are going to do and setting up our mornings. That being said, it is incredibly fulfilling to watch her progress and enjoy the process.
I also am realizing with talking to other friends that no matter which path parents choose, we all worry and have doubts. I have friends concerned because their children (who started kindergarten this year) are frustrated and bored in class as the teacher tries to teach to 25 children all at different levels. I have friends stressing over charter versus public. I have friends who have pulled their older children out to homeschool as well as homeschooling friends that opted to put their children in public this year. I find it comforting that all of us are doing the best we can to find the right choice for our families that match our lifestyles and beliefs AND that we can change the course we are on as we go.
Our plan is to take things year by year or even month by month. For now, I really feel good about the way things are going, and I’m excited to see where things lead!
Have you had to make tough decisions about schooling yet?
Which daycare or preschool to go to? Homeschool vs public vs charter vs private?
I never knew there were so many options and funny enough, all my friends locally are pretty evenly spread between them all. Totally different from how I grew up!
My son is 4 and we really wanted to put him in a preschool this year because he has been in a home daycare that has lacked seriously in the educational department. We were so happy when we found a Christian preschool. We initially thought it would be great until kindergarten but now we love the whole school (which goes up to grade 12) and have even become members of the church. Now I am confident we will keep him there until his sister gets old enough to start school, but then we have to make a decision based on finances as private school can add up for 2! The school is extremely small and a close community of people. One parent said they feel like their kid is practically home schooled because everyone is so loving.
Yes – schooling for your kids is a very hard decision. But it is nice to know that there are many options available.
Brittany Dixon says
That school sounds amazing! There is a charter school around here that I’m going to an open house for. I just want to check out all the options because I know there are some great gems to be found. So glad you have a great fit for your son! (at least for now :))
Brittany Dixon says
That actually sounds just like homeschooling to me! It’s not super structured at this point. I’m clicking over to check out your butterfly science post since my girls love butterflies. I also must have been channeling your energy this morning because we did science today- an egg and vinegar experiment! Thanks for your input 🙂
PS- Hope you enjoy the black bean soup!!
I never realized just how stressful the schooling portion of parenting would be. My son is struggling in pre-school right now and we’re at a point where we probably need to find a preschool that is smaller and better suited to his needs. I know he would benefit a lot from more days at home, but unfortunately that’s just not possible for me. We think he is struggling because he is showing signs of ADHD and is feeling overwhelmed in such a large classroom. I’m hoping to find a Montessori preschool that we can afford now…
I absolutely get the whole projecting-your-feelings thing. I think about constantly and wonder if maybe a switch would actually be good whereas I’ve been worried this whole time about pulling him from the center he’s been at since birth. Who’s to say it wouldn’t be the best decision yet?
I really think this is going to be a fabulous choice for both of you. As an objective onlooker, it really seems like this is a perfect fit for you. Growing up, home-schooling wasn’t really a thing so I didn’t know much about it at all when I had my daughter, & I definitely had a negative connotation associated w/ it (due solely to ignorance on my part). We later became friends w/ some neighbors who home-schooled, & I learned so much about it & would have loved to have been in the position to be able to do it (I was a single mom & worked full-time so it wasn’t really an option for me unfortunately). I know you said you’ve spent a lot of time researching & preparing, but I think that time will reduce drastically once you become even more comfortable w/ the process. One thing that I learned from my friend that amazed me (but makes perfect sense!) is that the time her kids spent “doing school” was WAY shorter than the normal school day. She had 2 kids who were 3 yrs apart, & they were typically done w/ school time before lunch, which is awesome! And they were also finished much earlier in the spring. It makes a lot of sense given the fact that a teacher in a classroom has so many kids to deal with, who are also at many different levels developmentally (not to mention all the behavioral issues). It just goes so much quicker when you’re only focusing on your child & can move things along at her speed. As you’ve also already noticed, it makes it so much easier to cater to your child’s needs & preferences. I think it’s GREAT that you’re doing this, & I predict it will be a huge success!
Oh, & as for your concerns about Hailey feeling she’s missing out, I do think you’re probably projecting a bit… but if that happens, I have no doubt you guys will handle it beautifully. I’m sure you’ve probably already looked into this, but I know our schools in Iowa are very accommodating to the home-schooling community. Many of our home-schooled kids come to the schools to participate in PE, art, band, etc. We also have field trips for the home-schooling families to take together (I think monthly), & someone also does home visits to give the kids tests & review curriculum to make sure everyone is on the right track.
And like you said, the good news is you can change your mind whenever you want. 🙂 Best of luck! I love these posts btw. Even though my daughter is a junior in high school now so this doesn’t really apply to me anymore, I find them very interesting, & I’m sure they’re a HUGE help to other mothers out there who are debating about home-schooling.
Marjorie @APinchOfHealthy says
I am so glad you are posting about this! I always thought we’d be sending ours to public schools, but decisions are tough. I have not ruled out home school. I am very curious to hear how it goes and if y’all will continue.
School/childcare decisions are the hardest! My 4.5 yr old is in the preschool class through his elementary school. It’s a lottery, and his number was picked. I was so reluctant and back/forth with our decision to send him. He’s just like every other elementary school kid, going 5x/wk 7:40-2:20. He love it, his teachers & class is amazing. I’m shocked that they are surpassing my high expectations and he is learning so much! Check out his class blog that his teacher updates weekly.
Keep the homeschooling posts coming! I love them as I’m trying to navigate this decision myself.
Have you considered Montessori? We have an amazing school that goes through 5th grade. You might check it out if you’re not familiar!
Brittany Dixon says
I have heard wonderful things about Montessori! It is something I would look into if homeschooling doesn’t feel like a good fit for us moving forward. I have friends that love it!
This is really interesting to me! My daughter is about Kaitlyn’s age, so I am also curious if you have started to do any learning activities with her?
Brittany Dixon says
Honestly, not a lot. We read books and do art of course, but I want to start doing a few more activities just for her in the next few months. Nothing serious, just play activities to help develop hand strength and play with colors, letters, shapes, etc.
Let me preface this by saying that I love the honesty and thoughtfulness of your blog and have enjoyed reading the parts of your schooling journey that you’ve shared. And maybe I missed it but I I was wondering if you could go into more detail about why you decided to go this route? This is not in any way meant to challenge your parenting decisions, but I’m curious as to what you feel the benefits of the homeschooling approach are compared to a traditional school environment? There are so many valuable lesons to be learned (outside of a textbook) through the experiences kids have being “on their own” at school and socializing with peers, and (as far as I know) you are not a teacher by trade….so again, i am asking this to better understand the merits of homeschooling. Thanks!
Brittany Dixon says
Totally legit question- I’m not offended at all. While my homeschooling friends all have different reasons, a few of the benefits we are attracted to are 1) flexibility of schedule 2) tailoring material to fit interests/skill level/learning style 3) being able to socialize with many different ages and backgrounds instead of just local peers and having a little more control early on over with whom and how she socializes.
There are certainly other small things that interest us, but I’d say those are the main factors that are enticing to us at this point. Hope this provides some insight into our current train of thought, but like I said, we’ll take it one year at a time!
Thank you! Best of luck to you on this journey!
I totally commend and respect your choice in homeschooling, especially at the level your daughter is at. I truly wish more parents were dedicated to doing this as well. As a 3rd grade teacher (former 1st grade teacher) at a public school, I whole-heartedly believe in a strong preschool and kindergarten foundation. It makes a HUGE difference in children as they go through upper grades. I am also OKAY with home schooling at that level. I also believe in private schooling BUT only in primary grade levels. When students get to second and third grade, public school is so good for social skills that are necessary for being citizens in various settings. Children need to be exposed (in a friendly environment ) to peers their age that come from various homes and backgrounds. It is also important to interact with students who maybe are not well-behaved, have special needs, or struggle with school. Let’s be real- the world is so full of people different people from us. When children are older and entering jobs or going to college, they will work with students who have different backgrounds and beliefs and being able to interact with them is a skill that comes with experience. I have had this conversation with several friends and parents. I see TONS of benefits to home schooling and private schooling, but public school experiences outnumber them in so many ways:) Plus- kids are very different for teachers than they are parents…trust me on that!
Brittany Dixon says
Hi Ashley- thanks so much for your insight from a teacher’s point of view! I wholeheartedly agree in what a valuable skill it is for kids to learn how to socialize with people from all different backgrounds and abilities. Public schools certainly offer an ideal environment for developing these skills and our local public school is a wonderful one, which is why I wouldn’t hesitate to have Hailey enter there if we choose not to do homeschooling next year. I really love hearing input from all different points of views and am really encouraged at how much I’ve learned from people with all different opinions. Thanks so much for taking the time to weigh in.
Also, thank you for what you do. I have several teacher friends who talk of the frustrations of teaching that have nothing to do with the kids! The excessive testing and red tape has made it so hard to do their job that some have left teaching altogether so I have a great appreciation for teachers and all they do. I know your job isn’t easy but you are making such a difference to your third graders by being an engaged and caring teacher!
Haley @ Hobson Homestead says
So happy to hear it’s going well! I’ve been waiting for this update post 🙂 I tried homeschooling for PreK this year (which made a lot more sense when we thought we’d be RVing more), but after less than two weeks I threw in the towel. My four year old was ready to learn but I had no idea how to handle my two younger kids. I love your approach of doing part time preschool so you get one on one time, especially since this is your first year. I’m sure that helps you get the hang of it. I even jumped the gun and joined a co-op, which has actually been pretty cool. I will warn you though that from what I gather many co-ops are in the afternoon (because I’m sure most kids get their schooling done in the morning) and it’s been tough for my kids since they all nap. We’ve had several breakdowns at 5pm (along with naps riding home in the car then) which has made me second guess the co-op. Anyway, I still love so much about the homeschooling experience, and a big part of that is I don’t really think my son will need to be in school 7 hours next year in kindergarten. At 5 it seems like just a couple hours will do. He may end up in public school or a half day private kindergarten, we are still deciding. But in a perfect world there would be a school (like Cornerstone Prep in Kennesaw) where kids go to school a couple days a week and are homeschooled he other days. My new town just needs that option. Can’t wait to follow along your journey!
Claire started K this year and is attending a charter school. There have certainly been some adjustments (she was in full time daycare/preschool before) but overall we’ve have been happy. It is a language immersion school so her teacher speaks French all day long. Her parent/teacher conference was actually this week and my ability to communicate with the teacher was a challenge as she just arrived from France this summer and her English is not very strong (and I don’t speak any French)! I don’t feel my personality would do well with homeschooling, but I certainly had days where I have wondered if we’re doing what is best for her. As with most parenting decisions, there are positives and negatives to most situations and being flexible and being able to adapt to your child’s needs makes all the difference. Good luck and it looks like y’all are doing great!
Even though we don’t have any children (yet), we often discuss future schooling options. While the schools are top rated where we live now, we don’t think they’d fit our criteria for what we’d want for our kids. The Bay Area is sadly known for a lot of student suicides and stressed-out kids in general. The pressure that applies for those of us in the working world here also trickles down to the kids (everyone MUST get into Stanford!). It’s really sad. We are hoping that we can find the perfect little community to raise them and send them to public schools. It doesn’t have to be top rated, but an established community, motivated teachers, and project-based learning is what we are after. Who knows if we’ll find it?
And of course my other dream is to have a school be cool with us taking kids out to go on “field trips”, aka, traveling around the world 🙂
Love reading about this and congrats on the progress you’ve made so far! I’d love to spend an afternoon in that store browsing. Schools supplies and materials make me giddy.