A Homeschool Day In the Life (with an 8 & 6 year old)

Over at Simple Homeschool Jamie is having the “Homeschool Day In the Life” series where you post what one day of homeschool life is like.  I participated in this two years ago (my boys have grown so much) and thought that I would do so again.

Here was a random Thursday that we had, but most days follow this routine.

Morning:

I get up around 6:45 and get ready to go and workout (from an online video).  I never set an alarm to wake-up and let my body naturally wake-up.  Before I workout, I check some of my emails on my phone.  I then workout for 30-60 minutes (today was for 45 minutes).

The boys are waking at the same time I do, or a little later, but they usually spend 20-30 minutes talking in bed before coming out into the family room where I am.  If it is a workout that they like, they’ll join me :).  After some prodding, my oldest gets in the shower and my youngest follows him (my husband is on a work trip, but if he is home he usually starts working out at this time).  After the workout, I make breakfast for both of the boys, but many days they will make their own breakfasts or their dad does before he works out.  I just have to remind them that they have to have a protein and not just sugar!  After they are finished with breakfast they have been doing the online math program Smarttick (it’s good, but I saw the sticker price and we will not be continuing after our trial is up!).  Each kid gets 15 minutes of Smarttick.  Afterwards, they usually stay at our dining room table and draw pictures or they go and play with Legos.  During this time I finish checking all of my emails (including reading blogs I follow) and check to see the status of April the Giraffe!

Around 9am I hop in the shower and get ready for the day.  On good days I hope to get school started now, but I’m running slow!  I also stay in the shower much too long, but the house is cold and the shower feels so good!  Once I’m ready I gather all of the materials that I will be reading to the boys for school and we head into our family room to start school.  The boys get a snack or a second breakfast (they are two bottomless pits!).  We start “school” and I read stories from our Build Your Library (BYL) curriculum.  This includes language arts, science, and geography.  On Thursdays Nathan’s schoolwork goes first and then I move onto Anderson’s.  The boys really enjoy this time because they like being read to.  After the BYL work I read some picture books that complement what we are learning for history.  I quit BYL for history and have gone back to using History Odyssey (HO).  We are currently reading about the Middle Ages.  HO has more book recommendations that I think work better for my boys and get them interested in the time period.  Neither of my boys are independent readers, so much of our time is spent with me reading to them.  I look forward to when I can give them instructions on what to read and they can do it without me :).  If there are any activities to go with what we are reading and learning about we will do that now.

Noon-Afternoon:

My oldest isn’t grumpy, he just wanted to make that face for the camera!

It’s now about 11am and we take a break so that I can have my breakfast.  My husband and I are eating breakfast so late because we do intermittent fasting.  We only eat for 8 hours during the day (11am-7pm) and so far this way of eating hasn’t been bad at all and is something that we both are happy with.  Since my husband and I are making food this prompts the boys to want to eat too, so they make themselves an early lunch, which is usually a sandwich of some variety.  The boys take a longer break to play because they aren’t as enthusiastic about the next portion of learning.

We have been using the program All About Reading for both of my boys.  My oldest is categorized as being in third grade, but he is not independently reading yet.  I had heard from many people that this is a great program for those who are not up to grade level with reading.  I’ve found that this program has been great!  Both of my boys like it and I’ve seen huge improvements with my oldest.  Each lesson has just the right amount of reading to not be frustrating, which is a big plus.  My youngest is in Kinder and I have found that he is beyond his level in the program (he started reading on his own), but we still do the lessons so that he has a good foundation.

After reading we do our math program Right Start Math (RSM).  When we were starting out homeschooling this year I wasn’t sure what math program we should use and I took this quiz and it was suggested that RSM was the best fit for us (my husband got the same results).  I  like the program and my boys seem to enjoy it too, although sometimes they complain about having to do it.  I think that they complain because it’s usually the last thing that we do for the day and they just want to be done!

For reading and math I work with one boy at a time.  They alternate who goes first each day.  I tried having one do reading and then the other one do reading, but that was a no go.  While one of them is working with me the other one is usually playing or trying to find ways to annoy their sibling while they are working.  My oldest does have to read by himself for 20 minutes.  He can pick any book and read as much as he can.  Lately, he’s been reading Captain Underpants.

Afternoon:

My boys are finished with school and now it is time to do some chores!  They clean up their messes and sweep.  They have to do this before they get an hour to play video games.  They play either Minecraft or Super Mario Brothers on our WiiU.  We set a timer for this and almost every day it is a struggle to get them to quit playing.  If I have to tell them to get off more than a few times and they don’t listen to me they lose it for the next day.  When they are finished playing they either go outside or stay inside to play.

Around 3-3:30 they ask to go see if their friends (who go to public school) can play.  I tell them that we should take a walk with the dogs since it isn’t raining!  We get the dogs ready and head on out.  On our walk, they stop at their friends’ houses and ask if they can play, but they have homework to do, so they continue on the walk with me.

Evening:

I start working on dinner around 4:30 and the boys play.  We eat between 5:30-6.  After dinner I decide that we are going to do the Deep Space Sparkle (DSS) President’s Day art project that I never got around to!  I read to them two books about Abe Lincoln and then we do the project.  I’m pleased with how they turned out, but my oldest is being grumpy and says that he doesn’t like his artwork.

Homemade pizza! I’m trying to eat healthy, so I have the zucchini pizza sliders 🙂

The boys now have time to play and I usually catch up on emails, social media, reading, learning to play the guitar, learning how to use my camera, or watching Gilmore Girls.  The boys really like to bother each other and I think that I spend more time “yelling” at them to leave each other alone.  At 7:30 I tell them to get ready for bed, but it takes them about an hour until they are finally ready for bed.  Once they are ready I read to them and they go to bed.  When their dad is home he is the one that reads to them before bedtime and that gives me some much needed alone time!

*On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday my boys have either Fencing or Parkour classes, so that changes those days up a little bit.  If we have extra time we like to do science experiments, play board games, or free draw.  Every day doesn’t go smoothly and I’ve left out plenty of arguing and fighting from everyone in this day! 🙂

-Heather

 

 

 

 

What We’ll be Using for the 2016-2017 Year.

homeschool picks

At the end of last year I decided that it was time that we part ways with the Waldorf curriculum.  I did love the curriculum that we were using, but unfortunately it stops at second grade and Nathan is going into third.  My boys (& myself) were also veering away from the Waldorf way of teaching and I found that for us having an assortment of curriculum would work best for us.

This year I also decided to go with a homeschool charter program.  I have friends that were doing these and they raved about them.  I figured we would give it a shot and see if it worked out.  If it wasn’t working we could always stop going and continue on our own.  With the homeschool charter program they give us a stipend per kid for curriculum and any extra school supplies, which was a nice thing to have this year.

Here is what we will be doing.

All About Reading

I had heard from a couple of people that this was a great Language Arts curriculum, especially for those learning to read.  We got the pre-reading set and the Level 1 set.

RightStart Math

I’ve heard of RightStart Math since we started homeschooling and I’ve always been intrigued by it.  Earlier this year in one of my FB homeschooling groups someone posted this link that asks you questions to determine what math curriculum would work best for your family.  I took it and RightStart was #1.  I asked my husband to take it and RightStart was tied for #1 for him too, so I figured that it was one that we should try out.  We got Level A and Level C.

Build Your Library (BYL)

I just found about them in the Spring.  It is an all encompassing curriculum that does language arts, science, history, and art.  This curriculum follows the Charlotte Mason theory (I’ve heard of it and know a little, but not a lot).  I liked what it offered and it was super affordable because it comes as a downloadable file that I printed from home (I got it on sale too!).  As you probably noticed, we have a LA program already so my plan is to have AAR as our main resource and read the stories in this curriculum and do some of the copywork, but mostly keep it light.

Deep Space Sparkle Members Club

This is an art program that is mostly geared towards teachers in a classroom setting, but it looks like it is a great resource for homeschooling too.  I have used Patty’s lessons in the past and have really enjoyed them.  In the Member’s Club you get access to a lot of art lessons and she explains how to teach the lessons.  There is really a lot there and I’m looking forward to doing some lessons from here!

Extras

We got this book The Curious Kid’s Science Book (affiliate link) to supplement our science and do some fun kitchen science experiments.

We signed up for Mystery Science , which are all short videos that are about science.

We still have an online membership for Prodigy Math and will use that occasionally.

With the charter school they offer accounts for Reading Eggs, Khan Academy, and Moby Max and encourage us to use those to supplement what we have.

Through the charter school they also offer online and in person classes, which we will do occasionally.

Lastly, we will be taking field trips, going to museums, and learning through life!  I think that the above will keep us more than busy and I’m sure that some of the stuff will be dropped as we find that we don’t have as much time as I hoped we would have.  I’m looking forward to this school year and now I just need to start planning because we start school this coming Tuesday!

 

 

Thrift Store Score Before and After

Worldbaf

I’ve been on the hunt for a globe to use for homeschooling because I have found that it would be so easy to refer to places that we are talking about if I had one (prior to moving to our new home we got rid of ours because it took up space and we weren’t sure if we would use it, ha!).  Brand new ones are a little on the expensive side and I was shocked by this.  That meant that Craigslist and thrift stores were my best bet.  I was surprised to find that the ones on Craigslist were still a little expensive for used globes (the cheapest I found was for $15).  I had found many at the thrift stores that were reasonably priced, but the globes were out of date or broken and wouldn’t turn.  I found this beautiful huge globe on this really nice wooden stand, but alas the globe was out of date and we don’t want to refer to a globe that isn’t correct geographically!  Then one day I happened to be in our local thrift store looking for something else and I saw this globe on a cart waiting to be shelved.  I asked the worker if I could take this.  She said yes.  I looked at it and it looked like all of the countries were listed correctly and it worked!  It was just a bit dusty.  I got it for the low price of $5!

world1

I got home and cleaned all of the dust off.  I really wasn’t a fan of the blue plastic globe holder and I thought that I would use some of the rubbed bronze spray paint that we had for another project that I am slowly working on.  I checked to make sure that it was good for plastic and it was!

bronze

I took the ball out of the base and then sprayed the base with this spray paint (my oldest helped too).  I did about a couple of coats and let it dry, which happened fast.  It was super easy to do.  Once it was dry I put the ball back in and ta-da!  We have a new globe that looks much fancier than what we purchased.

world2

Here’s a close-up of how the numbers look after being spray painted.

worldcloseup

I’m really happy with how our globe looks and very happy that I waited patiently and only paid $5 for it!

Happy thrift store hunting!

Planning

planning

I’m not one of those super planners where I have planned out the whole school year before it even starts.  I just can’t plan that far ahead because so many things can change and that would also mean that I would have to do be a mega planning session, which doesn’t sound fun.  I decided that I would plan two weeks out at a time.  Then on Sunday afternoon I would realize that I hadn’t planned anything for the coming week, grrrrr!  I would furiously be figuring out what we were going to be doing for that week.  I’ve come to realize that this is a pattern for me.  In high school and college I would save projects/reports until the very last minute.  I don’t like to be stressed out, yet I do it to myself.

I decided a few weeks ago that I am going to try and stick more to a schedule of planning. To make it more successful for me I was going to plan four weeks out.  With four weeks of planning that would give me a bigger cushion in case I forgot to plan one week.  Ideally after we finish a week of school I would plan the week that was four weeks out.  Well, as you can guess that didn’t quite work out.  We finished two weeks and I realized this past Friday that I hadn’t planned for two additional weeks and I needed to get on the ball!

Here is my planning process that I go through.  First, I go and grab all of the books that I am using, a pencil, my eraser which I use a lot, and my planner.   Let me tell you about my planner real quick.  Another homeschool blog recommended it.  You pay for the editable pdf and then every year you can customize it to your liking.  It is also geared for homeschoolers.  It’s alright.  I do better with a hard copy, so every year I print out the pages and then bind them (I ended up buying a comb binding machine on Craigslist because I figured with all of the binding I would be doing it would save me money in the long run).  I think that there are probably other homeschool planners out there for sale that would work great and not require any work on your part.

planner1

Here is what my planner looks like

I start by filling in what week I will be teaching and all of the subjects we will be learning about.  They are as follows: Social Studies, Math (Waldorf teaches in blocks and the weeks that I was planning were Math, but sometimes it is Language Arts), Art, History, Science, Language, Music, and Handwork.  I start off by figuring out what I will be teaching from the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  This is our main “work” for school and is usually the one that we focus the most on.  For this curriculum schooling is done in three days.  I figure out what three days that will be and fill in the information.  Next is Art.  Usually with the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum there are art projects (painting, modeling, or coloring) that go along with the lesson being taught.  Sometimes I supplement with other art projects that I think would be fun for my boys.  Then I do Social Studies.  Social Studies is really simple.  We just moved, so we were learning about our address and the new state we live in.  My sons aren’t good at remembering the days of the week and the months in a year, so I planned that in for a few days.  For History a friend had recommended A Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, so I decided to get it.  We just read one to two chapters (they are very short) a week and try and do an activity that I come up with based on the subject matter.  For music we are working on learning how to play the recorder using Learn to Play Recorder Book 1.  For Science I have been using Real Science Odyssey and Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.  I’m on the fence about the second one (hopefully, I’ll get to a review on just that curriculum later).  For Language we are doing Spanish.  My son went to a Spanish Immersion preschool for a couple of years, so he had a good foundation, but unfortunately a lot has been lost.  We usually just go over some basic words.  If I feel any of the subjects above need some hands on activity to go with it I usually search the internet for something that I think the boys would enjoy.

On the opposite side of the planner I list out the days of week and figure out the order of how the subjects will be taught and add in any extra notes (the space is bigger).    We do each of the subjects about three days of the week, so there is always one day where we are not doing one of the subjects.  Thursdays are always free days because it is garbage day and I tried doing school, but the excitement of the garbage trucks coming makes it a very difficult teaching day.  If we have a meetup or field trip planned then I try and squeeze in more school into the other days or I do Thursday afternoons or the weekend.  We’re very good at adapting to changes if there need to be any.

Then the Sunday before we do school on Monday I take a look at my planner and see what I have planned for the week.  I make sure that I have everything I need for the week.   Ta da!

Is your planning similar to this?

-Heather

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from my link (Amazon only) I will get a small percentage from the sale with no extra cost to you.  The extra money will go directly towards supplies for our homeschool.  Thank you for your support!

Let’s Begin

homeschool

My husband and I decided when our oldest son was just a baby that we were going to send him to the local Waldorf school.  We loved what the school offered and really liked the philosophy behind Waldorf schooling.  We started going to the parent & child classes there and fell even more in love.  Fast forward to when it is time to enroll for school and we looked at the tuition and decided that we couldn’t afford it, plus we would have another son going there soon after, which means double the money (tuition was around $15K starting in Kinder and gets more expensive each year).  We were sad about it, but we decided to explore our options.  We were set on the Waldorf way of schooling (delayed academics, more free play, and a focus on arts and creativity) and just couldn’t see ourselves sending our sons to public school.  Growing up my husband went to Montessori, public, private, and was homeschooled and he said that being homeschooled was his favorite out of all of them.  We decided that homeschooling would be our best bet.  We began to research it a lot and came to the conclusion that this was the right fit for us.

We still wanted to employ Waldorf methods so I got the Christoperus Kindergarten Curriculum.  There wasn’t much to the curriculum because in Kinder the kids are supposed to mostly be playing.  They suggest circle time with songs and movement, stories, and arts and crafts.  Much of this I had to research on my own.  Soon after we started homeschooling life threw a curveball at us and we moved up with my parents to help take care of my dying dad.  During this time there was no schooling, but there was a lot of playing.  At about this time I came across the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  I looked it over and saw that it was exactly what I was looking for!  Kelly, the woman that created the curriculum, basically lays it all out for you.  She has what stories, songs, and arts and crafts to do week by week.  It was easy to navigate and with everything going on I needed something easy.

When we first began homeschooling for Kindergarten I wanted to start a homeschooling blog.  I would come across different homeschool blogs and often found the information helpful in some way and I figured that our journey could be helpful for others too.  Time and life just got the best of me and it never got done.  I decided that come September when we started homeschooling first grade I would have the blog up and running, ha!  Earlier in the year we decided to move from the LA area.  We knew we wanted to move up to the Portland area, but we didn’t know when our house would sell and then how fast we could get another house.  We moved in with my mom and on the first day of September we moved to our new house in the Portland area.  As you can imagine my blogging dreams were put on hold because we had a lot of cleaning and unpacking to do.  Plus, we were getting all new flooring put in and that meant we were relegated to a couple of rooms.  I did make it a priority to unpack all of our school supplies so that we could get started on school.

We started first grade the middle of September 2014.  My oldest son was almost 6.5 years old (Waldorf recommends first grade start at 7, but I thought it was close enough and he was ready).  Kelly, the lady who created the Kindergarten curriculum I loved, came out with Lavender’s Blue First Grade Curriculum and I bought that to use.  My youngest son was almost four when we started and I mainly wanted him to focus on playing, which he does a lot of.

Again, the LB curriculum is working well for us (I’ll go into a more in-depth post later).  As I have been digging more into Waldorf I have found some things that aren’t really working for us (circle time) and my sons really love science and Waldorf doesn’t do much science in first grade.  In January I started supplementing with other curriculums to add to what we are doing (again, I’ll do another post on this).  I really like the concept of unschooling and project based learning, but as of now if it was up to them all my boys would do would be Lego related and I feel like they needed a little more than that.

Fun facts:

  • My boys love Legos and if they had unlimited money that is all that they would buy!
  • We are a family of introverts and all of us would prefer to stay at home versus going out, which is good for this introverted mama.
  • The boys are currently obsessed with Roald Dahl.  Right now we are reading James and the Giant Peach.
  • John Irving is my favorite author.
  • The boys are awesome travelers and have been since they were babies.
  • The boys are best friends, but they still manage to find many opportunities to fight.
  • My husband brews his own beer and I’m sure that I’ll get him to post about that on here 🙂