When we first started our homeschooling journey with our new first and second grade daughters in August, I had every intention of being very organized and sticking to some kind of schedule every day. I wasn’t sold on any particular curriculum, so I got a few Spectrum workbooks (Math and Phonics) for each of the girls and for the first few days we sat down and worked on them, did a few other things, and that was it.
Still, our system wasn’t exactly organized and they kept asking me when we would be done, what else they had to do, etc.
I needed to implement something to keep them (and I) on track, so I decided to try work boxes, which I had seen all over the place when researching homeschooling and curriculum and schedules. We picked up some Rubbermaid storage drawers from Meijer, I made and printed numbers 1-6 from the computer, and got to work filling the boxes.
Shark Week was on in those first few weeks. I ordered a small shark model from Amazon that we put together, and we worked on a shark lapbook as well. It was fun, and they are all three obsessed with sharks, so it was a hit.
While this system worked and did help keep Summer and Camryn and I on track for the day, at the time it wasn’t a good fit for us. We didn’t have an official curriculum for any subject yet, so filling the boxes was kind of hard for me. I also felt like it was almost too much structure. We were spending a lot of time outdoors and a lot of times the work boxes were put on hold in favor of fun stuff like walking in the creek and blueberry picking.
The work boxes got abandoned at some point, and I gradually warmed to the idea of unschooling after reading a lot about it, and Joe did as well. (This article was the first to captivate me: The Beginner’s Guide to Unschooling) It seemed to fit our lifestyle well and I loved the idea of self-directed learning. We backed off of the scheduled work, and although I still encouraged them to do some workbook stuff there was no pressure there and they didn’t do nearly as much. Instead, we all embraced a more laid-back approach to life and learning.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t exactly feel like I knew what I was doing, and I was still very unsure of whether this was a good idea. I want my kids to all be smart, educated, and happy. Was abandoning math lessons and replacing it with playing an hour of Minecraft a good idea?
There are a lot of homeschoolers in Louisville, and we attended a co-op in the fall where the kids helped make apple pie filling. Actually they ran around and played while the adults made the apple pie filling. It was fun for them though, and it was nice to see other homeschooling families. I met a mom there who invited us to join her smaller homeschooling group. It was exactly what we needed. On Mondays, we meet at someone’s house or go somewhere fun, and the kids get a science lesson, an art lesson, and have a great time playing together.
The girls also started going to my mom’s house every Thursday for “Cooking With Grandmom”. It’s just something fun for them to do out of the house, and they learn some kitchen skills while they’re at it. And no, this isn’t us teaching the girls to be homemakers. Jace will most definitely be attending Cooking With Grandmom when he’s old enough!
Due in part to the colder weather, but more significantly my extreme morning (all-day) sickness, activities and projects have slowed down considerably since November. I haven’t been able to do much at all since then, and it’s been pretty frustrating both for me and for the kids. We haven’t been able to attend our Monday co-ops, which we have all missed, let alone any fun stuff around town or the house. Their school-related activities lately have been watching documentaries on Netflix, playing Minecraft, and reading aloud to us for the last month or so. Luckily, it was Winter Break for most kids any way, so I’ve tried not to worry too much about it.
I’m starting to feel a tiny bit better, and will hopefully continue to improve and get my energy back (as much energy as a pregnant mom of three can have!) and we can get back to having fun. Our recent trip to the Newport Aquarium was definitely a learning experience and fun for all of us!
There has been a slight shift in my mindset as far as curriculum. While I still love the idea of unschooling and feel that our family will continue to embrace much of the ideas and attitude that comes with it, I do want to try using some specific curriculum with them to see how it goes.
I recently purchased Singapore Math (We’re starting at the very beginning with 1A for both girls so we don’t miss any of the concepts), R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Level 1: Life, and History Odyssey Level 1: Ancients. All three are appropriate for both of the girls so we can work on it together. We started the math last week and it’s going really well so far. I like how the concepts are taught (I’m terrible at math, I will probably learn just as much as them!), and the girls are enjoying it as well. We will be starting the Science and History on Monday so I’ll have to update with how we like it in a few weeks. We will continue to do a lot of reading, and work in their Grammar and Phonics workbooks occasionally, do fun art projects, as well as spend lots of time outside when the weather cooperates.
So far it’s been a roller coaster, and I’m okay with that. The beauty of homeschooling, besides being able to do schoolwork in bed, is that you can change what doesn’t work whenever you want. I also know that the ultimate goal, which is the happiness of my kids, will most certainly be met as long as we continue on this path of exploring and learning together.