Friday, March 28, 2014

Where's the homeschool in this blog!?

So today I came to some realizations that I have been ruminating on for the past month or so. I have just been to busy to write them down until now. (which means I am avoiding my sink full of dishes LOL!)

Realization #1: I haven't blogged in quite awhile!

Realization #2: I have yet to write about homeschooling!

Realization #3: (This is actually more of an incident really) I need to chill out today seriously! Big time! This happened during an incident while trying to get my oldest to do some copy work and it became more of a power struggle than a learning moment. And then it became an ah ha! learning moment where I said "Dude! (Yes I still say dude and I am 36 years old) Self! Chill out already and let the kid go he is 7! Plenty of time to prefect his penmanship!" I was having flashbacks to middle school and high school homework sessions (okay math homework sessions if we want to be transparent.) which usually ended with me and my mother in tears. So I backed off, I said "Yes go watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. We can do this later. Lets do something fun and chill out." This caused my sensitive 7 year old to cry even harder because he so hates to disappoint. We talked about it, about how I was making this "not fun" today and that we could take a break and come back to it tomorrow, so we did.
We had a mini popcorn picnic in the living room with lots of pillows and some smoothies and we watched (shudder) Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He loved it, my youngest loved it and I, well I was just loving the laughter and dancing and singing. Cuz honestly that show annoys me to no end! Though I suppose it could be worse it could be Barney or something as equally sinister. The important thing for me was a reminder that this homeschool thing is supposed to be enjoyable, for the most part, and part of why I am doing this is to avoid the whole tears with homework thing! During our break I thought you know I really should write up a blog post. It's been awhile and a lot of the bloggers I follow have been posting their "day in the homeschool-life" and I thought: cool I should share mine on my blog!  I mean I know I am probably the only person who reads it besides my sister, whom I force into the role of editor whenever I actually have something to post, but hey a girl can dream right? (For the record she was too busy to edit this one so go easy on me here!!)

Here goes:
First let me start by saying, I never intended to homeschool. At least not before I had kids! LOL isn't that how most of us start!? Once I had my oldest boy (whom I shall now refer to as Bubba-g, see pic below and you will understand!) 

I began to wonder about homeschooling. By the time I had my second boy (whom I shall now refer to as The Hulkster, his tantrums are monumental!) But when he isn't doing this:

He looks like this:

AWE...but I digress, back to business...

 My oldest niece, (who was in high school at the time) joined the homeschooling ranks. Well, I thought, if it is good enough for my wonderful, brilliant sister-in-law then perhaps there is something to this!
So I asked my SIL questions, lots of them, and began researching and looked at curriculum's and styles and after being completely overwhelmed by it all went back to basics.
Why do I want to homeschool my kids? Lots of reasons of course!  And I don't want to go into them all in this post or it will be like trying to read War and Piece and that is not my goal here. So let's just say I want my kids to love learning, I want them to know that learning happens any where and every where, not just inside a classroom. I don't want them to spend their evenings in tears, as I did, while doing home work all hours of the night! I don't want them to start thinking they are stupid because they don't understand something. For years I believed I was stupid and that math was not something I could ever do or understand. Guess what?

I was wrong. 

I can do math, I can understand it, though it may take me awhile, and I can and do find it beautiful! I do not want it to take my kids the 20 years it took me to figure that out about anything!

So how do I do this homeschool thing?  Its not easy!  To do this we became a one income household!  Which is hard because we are by no means well off. Not at all. We must budget everything. I mean everything! If it doesn't fit in the budget it doesn't happen. But my budgeting can wait for another post if you are truly curious!
I chose to use the same curriculum my SIL used. The Oak Meadow school. 
They have an actual school,  do homeschool curriculum's and you can also enroll online. For now we are doing the non-enrollment portion. We may enroll once we get to middle or high school but we like where we are now. For the record, their curriculum does cost money. I know there are a lot of free curriculum's out there and a lot of ways to homeschool for free, I however like having most of the prep work done for me!  I also like being able to take my questions to a professional!  But what I love the most is there approach. They are mostly Waldorf based, and I love that they do not rush you. It's a nice calming rhythm with a focus on nature and arts and crafts. They engage the whole child-hands heart and head! So yeah I pay for the curriculum and I love it! Just as important my boys love it!

So a day in the life of our homeschool!

I have Bubba-gump(7) who is in first grade and the Hulkster (4.9) who is in preschool.
Please note I have put down times but they are not set in stone!  Bubba-g is a late sleeper and Hulkster is an early riser.  I use the times more as guidelines and on days that we do have appointments or errands we stick to these times like glue!

So a typical Monday,  we will do this past Monday

We wake up. Usually Hulkster wakes me up around 6:30-7:00am. The Hulkster and I stumble around for coffee and an apple then watch a show (not always educational gasp!) while we wait for Bubba-g to wake up. The Hulkster and I are pretty much peas in a pod when it comes to how we function in the morning. We stare at the wall, or the pretty moving pictures on the TV until we are able to function ;) Bubb-g however is ready and raring to go the moment his little eyes pop open!
Once Bubba-g has emerged we have breakfast, get dressed and begin circle time.
I like circle time, the boys love it one day hate it the next but we do it and sometimes I change it up!  Usually we do the morning verse (which stays the same all year), a little seated meditation (not always successful with 2 energetic boys!) Our two poems or songs we learn for the week and do everyday, then our closing verse (also the same throughout the year).

After this we do our Buddha Coloring pages. Think of this as the equivalent of a short Bible study, we just happen to be Buddhist so we are learning about the Buddha's life in Coloring book form!

This usually brings us to:

9:20 we begin our first official lesson of the day. This right now, consists of our letter of the day, which on Monday was big S, little s. We read our story The Snake King and we draw a picture in our lesson book from the story, incorporating S. We go over our new poem "Swan swam over the sea". I have Bubba-g read it out loud and to help with his writing he writes it out. I don't always make him write the poem, we alternate between that and just practicing writing big s and little s. Or whatever letter we are studying. I usually spend two days on each letter, and use the stories from each curriculum. So for example on Tuesday we read The Six Swans from the Kindergarten curriculum.

10:00 ish they have free play time and I get to do something fun like the dishes! Then I prep lunch.

10:45 free play time is over and I have them clean up their toys or whatever and set the table for lunch.

11:00 lunch and lunch clean up.

12:00 Second lesson. MWF is math and TTH is science. Because my boys are 2 years apart math is a little longer because I combine the lessons from both their curriculum. This works well as it reinforces things Bubba-g already knows.
So for the Hulkster's lesson we go over the number 5, read a poem about number 5, and read The Star Child-which focuses on, you guessed it number 5! Then I will have him work with our tangibles either beads or nuts to make piles of 5. I also use one of those preschool activity books you can buy at Costco and have him either go over the number 5 activity or the letter of the day activity, if he is interested.
For Bubba-g we expound on our story about the gnomes: Plus, Minus, Divide, and Times. We have made them out of beeswax and he gets them out to act out the math problems I give him using nuts for his tangibles. Today we have introduced multiplication so Times gets to have all the fun handing out the nuts to the various Woodland creatures.

12:30ish *this depends on how long math takes. Craft/music/art/nature walk! (This depends on the day. Mon is usually Crafts, Tues and Thurs music and art and Friday nature walks. We also do nature walks on Wed at the natural history museum. They have a great trail you can walk and the boys have a ball!) Today we called Papa K and sang him happy birthday.  Then we made some cards for upcoming birthdays!

1:00 free play time so I get to do some more housework or not ;) sometimes I crochet instead.

1:45 we clean up, prepare a snack and

2:00 snack and reading time!  We enjoy a snack while I read a chapter or two from our latest book, which right now is: On the Banks of Plum Creek.  Then I have the Hulkster pick a book and I read that. Then Bubba-g reads to us from his Little Bear reader or his Batman reader. His choice. We usually do Little Bear and then Batman at bedtime, but I like to leave it up to him.

3:00 free play
This allows me time to do some cleaning get dinner going and whatever else I have on my list

5:00 is USUALLY dinner time and we start our bed time routine at 7:15. This includes bath/showers if needed, medicine, one last snack, teeth brushing and story time. I read one or two chapters from our current night time book Fantastic Mr. Fox, then Hulkster picks a book or two and Bubba-g picks a book I read and he reads from his Batman reader. Usually I have Bubba-g read first because if he is too tired he has a hard time staying focused.

Then it's lullabies and dream land. Hulkster is usually asleep first and it takes Bubba-g another 30 min to an hour to go to sleep. Luckily I no longer have to sit in the room with him the whole time. We realized several years ago that if we stay in the room he just keeps talking. If we leave the room he still talks but he falls asleep faster! 

And that is my day in life. On Wed we go to the natural history museum in the afternoons; we love it there! And of course it is very rare when it goes as smoothly in real life as it looks on paper!
There are always interruptions, fights, loss of focus, and just life in general getting in the way. 
It is hard to get the Hulkster to stay focused and with us the whole time. He loves art, he loves story time, circle time (usually) but sometimes he gets board during math and wanders off. I don't worry about it too much since he is only in preschool. As his attention span gets longer he will be able to enjoy the other lessons. 
Next year will of course be different as Hulkster will be entering Kindergarten and Bubba-g will be in second grade. Our schedule will change and bring new problems to solve, and new adventures to be had.
How is your homeschool different or similar to mine? I would love to hear about it!!!