I had so many questions.
Where on Earth do I begin?
What do I need to cover?
How long do I need to spend each day doing school with a preschooler...and when they get older....how much time?
What curriculum do I use?
What should my school calendar and lesson plans look like?
What subjects should I cover? and so on and so on and so on.....
In order to answer my questions I polled some homeschooling veteran mama's that I knew pretty well. I was looking for a XYZ guide as to....HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO....Go!!
Um....well let's just say a light bulb went on in my head early on....
There is no one way to home educate your children.
There is no XYZ plan.
There is no perfect curriculum that works for everyone.
Everyone who answered my little questionnaire responded so differently...it was a bit overwhelming...but it gave me a lot to chew on to help me shape our own home school.
So today I am sharing with you the best advice (in my opinion) that I received from my friends. This is the advice that I am trying to implement in our homeschool. Does this mean this is THE way you should home school your kids? Absolutely NOT. I am just sharing what works for us.
(side note...I know some of these friends read this blog....so you may recognize your own advice):)
This year I was going to have a plan. I made a schedule for our day. I made up a little check off sheet for Jocelyn. I was all prepared to be like other "well planned" homeschooling mama's. However it didn't work for me. I realized I didn't want that stress of having to rearrange things if something came up. I want and need the flexibility to say YES to something if something came up....without having to stress that we didn't cover a certain topic today...and by golly it was on my lesson plan for 10/18/12...so even if it is 8PM we are going to cover this material!! We will cover what we cover for this school year...and if we don't...we will just pick up where we left off during the following school year.
Don't worry if you don't buy into a curriculum plan.
I have a friend who...don't laugh...or gasp....only bought Math books from the shelf of her local Wal-mart store. She spent very little on curriculum until her kids were in high school. She taught her kids to read...by reading books from the library. She didn't have any phonics program. Didn't have all the extra "school gadgets" to aide in learning.
Ok...I haven't looked to see what Wal-mart carries, but I learned from her that it is O.K. if I piece together my own curriculum plan. I don't have to teach my kids how to do fractions with a text and pencil/paper. Why not cook and teach them along the way. It is ok to teach them as we live our daily life...and not just from a textbook.
Your pre-schooler isn't reading? Say what?
I have a friend who didn't teach her son to read until he was 12. Seriously. He wasn't ready. He had no interest in reading. She gave him time. She taught him about the things he cared about. He has since then graduated from his home school. Loves to read...and is a pretty smart, dependable, hard working guy.
If he was in public school I am sure he would have been slapped with all sorts of labels. They have standardized tests that must be passed by the time they reach..._____ grade!! And by golly he WILL learn to read by the 1st grade...or else.
So what if your little one has no interest in reading? They will catch on...one of these days. Don't stress about it.
Gasp...again. I know. Some of us feel like we spend all day picking up after our little ones. But if your kids are the hands on type like my little ones....most things can be cleaned up. Let me tell you...my kids love to get messy and do hands on things. I am thinking yours may be the same.
Invest in a museum/zoo membership.
Great advice. I would rather my kids get memberships to the zoo and museum for Christmas/birthdays. They have enough toys....hint, hint to all of our relatives out there.
Most of our memberships need to be renewed by March and that adds up to a huge chunk of change at the beginning of the year. Divide a membership by 4 kids + 2 adults...and whoola a cheap present that keeps them entertained all year long...instead of something that gathers dust.
Back to the topic.
Museums and zoos are great outlets for kids to explore and learn. There are signs posted next to each animal. You don't have to read them all in one visit...but they are quiet educational if you actually read them to your kids. Our museum in Omaha has great little science shows and hands on exhibits. Our Lincoln one does as well.
I haven't met a kid yet that doesn't like going to the museum or zoo. Have you?
Don't duplicate school at home.
Maybe my kids are just different...ok...don't answer that...I know they are, but they don't like to sit at a desk for long periods of time. They would rather be on a couch or sitting on the floor...or (another gasp) be moving around. Yikes! It is ok if you can't find a deal on school desks. I had a generous neighbor offer me a little kids desk for free...I hesitated to take it...but did anyways. We hardly use it...but it is nice to store things in:)
8-3pm? Huh? If you come visit us...trust me we are not doing school from 8-3pm. A lot of times we are heading out in the morning to go places. Some days it might be to go to the Y (so I can have some me time). Maybe it is to go grocery shopping. It could be just to visit the zoo or museum. My kids might be riding bikes during the day or playing outside.
We don't sit down and do school all day long.
We can learn when we are at the grocery store...for example just last week we had a lesson about why mama won't pay $7.55 for a thing of peanut butter.:)
But because I am flexible and not doing sit down school all day long, we can do those things. We might do a little math and reading before we take off. Maybe we will do spelling while I am making lunch. We might do something during the boys' naptimes. Our schedule is rarely the same for each day. It just depends on what is going on.
It is O.K. to have "me" time.
I am still working on this. But I am doing better. Running has been my me time. I rarely get the opportunity to go out with girlfriends or to just hang out with friends. So right now running it is. Since we are with our kids 99.9% of the time because they aren't going somewhere for school..."me" time is important so you can re-energize yourself to keep going...and going...and going.
It is o.k. to skip page 53.
Such good advice. Maybe page 53 has something we don't think is important for our kids to learn. Maybe pg. 53 has a millionth basic addition problem that our child has already mastered. Come to my house...you will see LOTS of blank pages in our workbooks. Mastery in my mind = moving on.
Don't worry about grade levels.
My kids have grade level labels so when people ask they don't have a "deer in the headlights" look. Shhhh...don't tell them, but they really aren't doing material that is recommended for their grade level. We will just keep that secret between you and me. I don't want to confuse them.
Like I mentioned about reading...It is ok that your 2nd grader is still doing 1st grade material in one subject and 4th in another. Totally fine. You won't go to homeschooling jail...I promise.
Oh.my.word. Apparently I have went on. I just realized how long this post is. Maybe I will follow it up with a part 2 sometime. The things I can get done when I have a few minutes to sit down!!