I think I should preface this post by saying that I am still a total beginner in the world of homeschooling! A little education recap: we did PreK and Kindergarten at home with my oldest and then he went to public school last year for 1st grade. My #2 is a totally different learner and because of that, PreK at home last year was much less intensive. He just wasn't ready! After a lot of conversation and prayer this summer, my husband and I decided that our #2 would thrive the best by doing Kindergarten at home. We offered the option to our oldest and while we were perfectly fine with allowing him to continue in public school, he chose to come home as well.
So here we are. I have a Second grader, a Kindergartener, two tag-along siblings and a (soon to be) brand new baby! (They all have birthdays in the fall, so for age reference, they will be 8, 6, 4, 2 and brand new.) It seems a bit crazy, but I've used the summer to "practice" a routine and I think we've finally found something that works for us. Here's a little peek into our day, as well as a few survival tips I've learned so far:
Our Day-to-Day Schedule
Day-to-day life with four (and soon to be five) never looks the same, so my first mission was to set aside the notion that we always had to be perfectly scheduled. My Type-A sometimes twitches at the thought, but really, it's been freeing and I think has made me a better mother. Most days, we start school around 9am. But if the boys are playing sweetly together with Legos or they're cuddled up with Sophie watching her morning cartoon, I let it be. Because really, what's the difference between 9:00 and 9:30 in the grand scheme of things?
We generally switch every other day who gets to "do school" first. I originally tried to have them complete their work simultaneously, but the multi-tasking was stressful for me. Now we focus one at a time, unless I read aloud or we do a family-wide craft. The boys thrive with the undivided attention I can give them and it's been nice to hear their little thoughts on life as we work through the day's assignments. (Note about the little two: J is generally content to play on his own during school time or he'll come participate with D. At just three years old, I'm flexible with what he wants to do each day. Sophia typically floats between the school table and the brothers in the playroom. She knows that as long as she colors quietly, she can stay at the table with us.)
We take a few breaks throughout the morning, but are still normally finished by lunchtime. If we have an intensive craft or activity, I sometimes will wait until Sophie's naptime to have one less "helper", hah! Then the afternoons are free for fun!
A Few of our Sonlight Curriculum Favorites from Weeks 1-6
- For a book with very little pictures, I wasn't sure what the little boys would think of Uncle Wiggily's Story Book, but it is actually the one they ask for again and again. The little stories focus on helping others and we've had some great conversations afterward.
- D is flying through Developing the Early Learner: Level 1 and I'm sure will be ready for the next book soon. I've decided to let him go ahead of schedule if he asks, which is often the case! I love his new excitement for learning.
- M's first read aloud was Charlotte's Web and boy, did he enjoy it! We took our time reading and incorporated lots of extra crafts and activities. We recently finished and are now on to Ginger Pye.
- For science, M is working through the Usborne World of Animals and we're both learning so much. Each "lesson" is only two pages, but we still have a lot of interesting discussions. I love when he asks his daddy at the dinner table, "Did you know...?"
Three Survival Tips from the First Six Weeks
1. Every Friday at naptime, I lay out a general plan of what I hope to accomplish in the week ahead. (I've been using this free printable from Money Saving Mom.) That way, I can put "school teacher me" away over the weekend and just be Mamma. Sometimes I'll research a craft on Pinterest on Saturday night, but for the most part, school is done until Monday.
2. Crafts are a BIG deal with the little kids, so I plan one or two that correspond with the Letter of the Week. I try to do some prep work before the official "lesson" to control the crazy, but that doesn't always happen. In those cases, I've enlisted M as a teacher's assistant (because what second grader/oldest child doesn't love a little power? hah) and he helps me with Sophie and sometimes J. He's a lifesaver and the craft goes much smoother.
3. Being in charge of my children's education is no small feat and I know there is a level of certainty that eventually, I'll start to feel a bit burnt out. I'm also very aware of the impending postpartum months with the roller-coaster of hormones, "baby blues" and general exhaustion. So to prepare for all of the above, I've started intentionally setting aside time everyday for me. In reality, this really doesn't look like much. I read my Bible for 10-15 minutes every morning after breakfast. I try to walk at least a mile at naptime. I read a chapter of my book or work on a craft project while the kids are playing in the afternoons. I work a bit on Big White Farmhouse after everyone is in bed. It's not much, but it does wonders for my mental health.
Whew, what a post! I hope to come back every six weeks with posts about what's working/what's not and our latest favorites. And for the readers who stuck it out to the end, please let me know if you have any tips, recommendations or questions!