I’ve previously mentioned our desire to homeschool and detailed our reasons for looking into it here. Behind the scenes I’ve been doing a lot of research. From reading articles and blogs to talking with friends who currently or plan to homeschool and visiting conference in between.
One thing that is clear from what I’ve learned is that if you are starting homeschool during the preschool years, and possibly even beyond, is that PLAY should be the main focus. I’ve read and fully understand the concept, but still, this can be a frustrating answer to newbies like me. We are excited. We are nervous. We want to ensure we do a good job. Naturally when we are told to just explore and play, it can leave us wanting more direction.
This past weekend we traveled to the NCHE Homeschool Conference in Winston-Salem. We turned it into a fun family weekend road trip, wandering through the Community School of Music downtown and having a great chat with a music teacher about Kindermusik and beyond, then playing in the fountains.
We made one last stop before the conference at a local spot appropriately named Local 27101.
It was right downtown, was lined with windows letting beautiful natural light flow in and had onion rings that might very well be the best I’ve ever had.
With full stomachs, we took on the conference.
We explored, chatted, inquired and played.
Then we confirmed the direction we’ve been headed in for starting our homeschool adventure.
Hailey has one more year before she is slated to enter kindergarten. Up until now, there really hasn’t been any visible difference between her school set up and her peers. She has been attending a morning preschool program (that we adore) three days a week.
This coming year, things will begin to change slightly. She is among the oldest in her class and many of her school friends are going to go 5 days a week for preschool next year. Hailey is signed up for the three day a week schedule and Kaitlyn will go two days a week, on alternating days. Yes, this means that technically I won’t have a morning to myself. While I’ve been told by some of my closest friends that I’m crazy, and they very well may be right, I am really looking forward to having one on one time with each of my girls. I have a really good week flow forming in my head and while each girl is in school, I will be working with the other one using a program called The Homegrown Preschooler.
The wonder-based program is appropriate for children ages 3-7. The curriculum is based on mountains of research that supports the idea that hands-on, play-based learning enables children to progress easily to more complex subject matter. To read more about the philosophy and implementation behind the program, I highly recommend reading the book, The Homegrown Preschooler.
I have spoken personally with Kathy Lee, the creator of the program and child development expert, several times. She is wonderful and I love her insight into how children learn. What I loved about this program is that it is exactly the kind of program I would create if I had the time and the knowledge of child development myself. It’s structured enough to give me the guidelines I desire to ensure we are on track, while allowing the flexibility I need to adjust our activities to both Hailey’s and Kaitlyn’s levels.
I love the monthly units that I can work on with both girls on so we can all talk about what we are learning together. I have grand daydreams of afternoons being filled with activities or field trips that coincide with our topic at hand, making our unit studies an all encompassing experience for all of us.
Am I starry-eyed and a bit idealistic at this point? Certainly. And I’m sure reality will kick me hard a time or two as I figure out exactly how things will work in this new phase for our family, but my underlying excitement is shining through. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be so deeply engaged with our girls’ learning process and look forward to all I will learn along the way.
If you have any specific questions about the program, my thoughts or the idea of homeschooling in general, please ask away. I’m certainly a newbie, but am more than willing to share our experience, concerns, excitement, worries and triumphs along the way!