Thursday, April 3, 2014

Home Sweet Homeschool: March 2014

Wow.  I think it has been 6 months since I wrote up a monthly homeschool update for the blog.  Yikes.  No time like the present to get back on track, eh?  So, let's dive right in and talk about what the kids and I have been learning during the month of March and some of the changes we've made since I last wrote about our homeschool.

Toddler Time, age 2 years 7 months - Amelia isn't technically homeschooling, but I like to record what she's been up to and learning each month, so I hope you'll indulge me as I include her in these monthly wrap ups.

One huge milestone for this little style maven:  she can go down the slide at the park all by herself.  Wow!  Talk about what a difference six months makes.  She's so proud of herself!

This month saw a language explosion and she's speaking in six and seven and sometimes even eight word sentences.  Usually along the lines of "Mom, you give me that ____, please?" or "Mom, I have more that ____, please?"  Tacking please on the end of requests is fairly new, too.

She's very interested in brushing her teeth and washing hands.  She's also interested in the process of doing the laundry and likes to help me transfer it from washer to dryer and then from the dryer to the laundry baskets and then even folding it and helping me put it away.

I give her simple tasks like folding washcloths and pairing socks (which sometimes she matches up correctly and sometimes not).

Amelia loves the alphabet and can name many of the letters, but we are careful not to pressure her with this.  Fun and games are what she needs right now and we'll just keep following her lead and taking things nice and slow, building a solid base of play first and foremost.

She and Lucy have been best buddies all month, playing lot of dolls and dulpos and watching Blues Clues together during quiet time.

Speaking of Lucy ...

Pre K, age five - animal loving Lucy was in heaven this month when we visited Piney Acres Farm for their Irish Roots Fest (you can read about that on Simple Kids, if you'd like).

Lucy and I are finishing up Sonlight's PreK age 4/5 curriculum, although we have abandoned the schedule and are moving at her pace.  Some days she's very into school work and other days she's content simply to play.  I follow her lead and the books have been fun to read together.

After surprising us last fall when we noticed that she can read, she's been getting in a lot of practice with our weekly library trips.

Lucy will be starting kindergarten in May when she turns six.  We prefer play based kindergarten and we have used Little Acorn Learning in our family since 2008.  I think that, along with our normal weekly rhythm, and our library card, will be plenty for her kindergarten year.

First Grade, age seven - Max switched over to Earthschooling mid-year and is enjoying first grade.  He'll finish up before his eighth birthday and I think we'll continue on with Earthschooling for second grade, too.

He's continuing to develop his literacy skills and loves reading Garfield comic books and is obsessed with all things Minecraft.

 Smaug in Lego.  My kids loved it!

We took the kids to BrickWorld Indy early in the month and Max was in his element, for sure!  He's really at the perfect age for Lego and you can often hear the plastic shuffle as he digs through our collection in search of the perfect pieces for his projects.

Sixth Grade, age eleven - Jillian finished reading the Sonlight Core F book list and we will spend the rest of the Spring on the Romans and, later, King Arthur, as she has transitioned into Earthschooling as well.  Making this switch mid-year seems to be a good one for everyone. 

She's working on lots of independent projects and continues to be very interested in all things dolls, dollhouses, and customizing dolls.  She asked her dad to build her a special doll hair re-rooting tool from an old sewing needle and a dowel rod and she's been sewing custom clothes for the dolls, as well. I'll have to ask her permission to share some photos of her dolls in the next monthly wrap up.

For future projects we've discussed writing a blog together and she's interested in exploring Greek cooking, so we're making lists and checking out library books and exploring websites.

She went to Indiana ComicCon dressed as Hermione and had a blast!  I love that as she grows she's just happy to be herself and doesn't feel like she has to change her interests for anyone or any peer group.  I think that is one of the gifts we are giving her with homeschooling. She can loves what she loves and no one gives her any grief for it.

She continues to enjoy her Art Club and she's taking some Saturday art lessons, too. She's been enjoying our lesson block on physics and I think the hands on nature of the Earthschooling lessons are a good fit for the way she learns.  It isn't enough to read about something, or simply to be told, she needs to experience it and see it in action for herself. 

And, of all of the kids I think Jillian is the happiest that the long Winter finally let us go and we can return to spending our days outdoors.  Our first walk through the woods last week seems to return a peace and content to her that I haven't seen since last Autumn.  She's a nature loving kid, for sure, and it was nice to see her returned to her element.

As for me?  This mom continues to learn to let go.  In fact, I think that has been the theme of this entire school year for us so far:  me giving them the tools they need, encouraging them, and then getting out of their way.

Our school days look a little different from how our days were last September. I have more of a supporting role and not a leading one, but I see the older kids taking more ownership of their education and I don't see this as a bad thing.  The goal is to foster a life-long love of learning, afterall, and not to cram knowledge in so they can spit it back out.

Giving them more of a say in what they study means I've had to let go of some of my plans and ideas to embrace what was the best fit for the kids (which, I think, is as it should be) and also what is the best fit for me.

No one benefits when mom is severely burned out and I was burning myself out, wasting a lot of energy trying to make things fit my family that weren't really the best thing for us. I hope in all of this I have learned to trust that inner voice that says, "this isn't right" and to listen earlier - to myself and to the kids.  I could have saved us a few bumpy months if I had.

Now, as the first of the crocus spring up from the ground, I find myself embracing this new season of life and learning and feeling really relaxed and content with how the days are currently flowing

And that was our March.

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  1. Love hearing your update!! We're officially moving into homeschool in the fall (as I'll have a Kindergartener), I think I'm stressing myself out too much about it, since I truly believe in play based K but outside pressures make me nervous that we won't be doing 'enough' but updates from others always seem to calm me.

    1. Ah, yes, the dreaded doing "enough" ... seven years of homeschooling and I still find myself tumbling into that trap all the time.

      Here's to not stressing and following our hearts! Best wishes!

  2. great update! would love to hear you talk more about why you switched from sonlight to earthschooling - differences, pros/cons of both, what wasn't working, what was, etc :)

    (formerly Mrs 1st Lt ;) )

    1. Hello there! Great to hear from you! :-)

      I still really like Sonlight, and I think we'll pull from their book lists forever, but honestly we just can't afford it and I don't have the time/energy to track down second hand materials.

      We didn't seem to follow the lesson plans (either behind or we're running ahead, depending on the kid - which was making this mama a little crazy as she kept trying to get organized and every kid was on a different week in their individual curriculum) and I don't like that the science/math/etc are all extra. I could have just followed the book lists on my own without purchasing the package or hunting down used copies of the lesson plans.

      This is MY issue, not Sonlight's of course. It's a solid program. Just doesn't seem to fit us right now.

      We've only been using Earthschooling since the new year (aside from using it with Jillian years and years ago) so it might be too soon to tell but I am loving that it is all we need (math, science, language arts, history, even some extras like handwork and form drawing) all for one price.

      I think my kids seem to be doing very well with block style of lessons versus trying to cover many different subjects in one day. And, while there is a suggested rhythm to each day and week per lesson block, its set up so you work at your own pace and there is no "ahead" or "behind" which makes a difference to me as the teacher/parent working through this with the kids. (Funny how much my mental state works into this, eh? ha ha!)

      Earthschooling was a one time expense and we shouldn't have to add to it until highschool (we're on the Basic Family Lifetime membership, I think it's called) which played into our decision, too. Until we're debt free, this is something that we have to consider.

      I also love that I can email myself the pdf files for the lessons and put them on my kindle, but that is totally just a me thing :-)

      As I'm making a rough sketch of next year, I see us sticking with Earthschooling for our main lesson blocks but I'll copy each of the Sonlight book lists per kid and we'll explore those books on our own. Maybe ;-)

      So good to hear from you!