Well here we are; doing it- homeschool. With a month under our belts, things have settled into a pretty nice rhythm, while at the same time I’ve gotten more comfortable with not having a strict schedule. Somehow those things can go hand in hand. In my research, I stumbled across a blog by Sallie Borrink. She writes a homeschool journal every month and I really enjoy the categorized breakdown of topics. Since I’m (clearly) into reflection lately, I think this will be a great way to keep track of our kindergarten homeschool journey. I hope to sift out the lessons I learn each month and structure our upcoming month with these facts and feelings in mind.
In My Life This Month
This month has been about adjusting. I like to lay all my priorities out and play around with how to best piece them together. It’s taken some trial and error, some asking for help, and an earlier morning alarm, but I feel like I’m reaching a good place where I can fit in the things most important to me while still maintaining some margin my life. I can’t book every minute of every day, so instead I schedule in the margin I need. I block out an entire afternoon each week to use as a catchall. I’m as protective over that 3-4 hour block as I am for scheduled appointments and it’s been helpful in staying on top of things.
In Our Homeschool This Month
The first week I felt all kinds of pressure (read about our first day here). To combat this I overcompensated with excessive enthusiasm for every subject. And now it’s time for (literal drumroll…) MATH! HOORAY! I realized that forced excitement was not only overkill, but impossible to maintain. The second week we transitioned into a more relaxed approach- candle, warm tea, music when we feel like it, starting with circle time center and books. It created a cozy and fun feel which is much more natural and enjoyable.
As for the actual content, we’ve focused mainly on language arts and math, letting science, geography, art, and Spanish slip in where they naturally fit. We spend 2-2 1/2 hours on school each day. That made me feel guilty at first, and I wondered if it was adequate, but I’m realizing it really is plenty. We’re covering topics so quickly and my goal is to keep things enjoyable, not cram as many facts into her brain as I can.
The apple theme was a hit! At first I felt like it was too much on top of our core subjects, and it was too much. So while we did read through most of the books and did most of the activities, I reminded myself it is a guide, not a checklist.
Places We Went and People We Saw
Field trip Friday is officially a thing in our house and the girls look forward to it every week! This month’s big trip was to Apple Hill Orchard! I had never been apple picking but being that I’m a mountain girl, I knew I’d enjoy it, and I was right. We took our time, climbing trees, inhaling the faint scent of apple cider vinegar that filled the air, and tasting almost as many as we picked.
On another Friday (Hailey’s birthday), she got to choose! We spent the morning at Discovery Place Kids, surprise surprise. And on another Friday, we opted to stay home and bake. Apple pie of course! I mentally prepared myself for the epic mess, which was good because it definitely came to fruition, but the girls had an absolute ball. I see lots of baking in our future.
We also attended our first homeschool “event.” The Historic Latta Plantation hosted a homeschool day. I’d never been and was excited to explore it but had NO IDEA how slammed it would be. We waited in line for about 25 minutes, but it was worth it. We gobbled endlessly at the turkey.
And wandered the plantation, listening to stories from the (in costume) staff as we went. Hailey looked at me at one point and in her most sincerest voice said “mom, this is really neat.” Not amazing or fun, but this experience was legit cool to her. Now I’m giddy to read Little House in the Big Woods with her next month. I think she’s going to love learning about that time period.
As far as people we saw, there weren’t many. During daytime hours at least and I really want to work on this. I didn’t join a co-op because I didn’t want to over-commit us, but now that I better understand the relaxed schedule, I’d like to figure out a way to meet up with more friends for Hailey. We stay and play on the playground quite often after picking Kaitlyn up and that works well as an outlet (there are kids Hailey’s age too). She’s also in soccer, music, and Girl Scouts (which she loves), but I’d like to find more daytime meet-up options too.
My Favorite Thing This Month
Having the one on one time with my firstborn. Snuggling up and listening to her read, watching her mind work through math concepts, having time to just talk about whatever pops into her head… I feel lucky, really lucky, to have this time with her.
What’s Working for Us
For me, it’s two hours on a Sunday that is making a big difference. I am really enjoying the Brave Writer language arts curriculum because of the grammar rules it teaches using interactive games and activities, but I really need time to look over the upcoming week’s lessons and map out our days before the week begins. Also, keeping Fridays open for field trips or fun activities with both girls is a trend I see sticking with for the long haul.
Homeschool Questions and Thoughts I Have
How do you choose what to do?! There are seriously so many wonderful things to choose from that I’m trying to figure out how or when to fit it all in. I want to study countries and cook their food. I want to do monthly themes. I want to do more science experiments because we both love them. But how?! I don’t know yet.
A Link to Share
I found a post on The Unlikely Homeschool about homeschooling on the go. I’ve always been a fan of using car time for learning (we play the “spelling game,” listen to audio books, and pick up kid songs at the library) and bookmarked this list of kid podcasts and music CDs to try out. Also, I am adding this Handwriting Without Tears workbook into our routine next month too. I’ve heard great things about the program and while Hailey loves to write, some letters still need a little work. Her “y’s” look different every single time she writes them 🙂
On My Website In Case You Missed It
Wow that was more detailed than I really intended, but really helpful to me. I think in homeschool (like life in general) it can be challenging to see the forest for the trees. I have a tendency to focus in on each day, but when I step back and look at the month as a whole, I’m much more able to clearly see the progress and learning taking place.
Your questions, tips, guidance, and encouragement has been invaluable to me, so I want to end this with a big THANK YOU. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!