Monday, August 3, 2020

A Little About Homeschooling

There’s a lot of chitchat about homeschooling right now and I’ve been asked many times from family and friends exactly what our homeschooling looks like and as well as what some of the nitty gritty aspects are. While I’m still a bit of a newbie on the homeschooling mom front (just finished our first year homeschooling a grade one kid! Yehaw!) I am more than happy to share more about our experience and hopefully answer some questions and introduce you to some resources that helped me! So grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea and read on!

Getting started

First things first, you’ll need to register with a school board. You may be able to simply call your local school board and inquire with registering through them or you can google home school boards in your state/province. We are with a school board that is based on traditional homeschooling, meaning I get to chose the curriculum, create my lesson plan for the year and do all the teaching myself. It sounds intimidating but its actually super fun! There are other options as well but I think the best way to figure out what works best for your family is to call a few boards and inquire what homeschooling would look like if your child was registered with them. 

Choosing a curriculum 

This part does require lots of research! It's important to find curriculm that you are excited to teach. A seasoned homeschooling mother suggested that I focus on a solid Math program, a reading program and a book to practice writing and I felt that those three subjects made for a great foundation! Along with those text books, I incorporated books on geography, ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece (kids love history just like their mother!) the human body, sea animals and then poetry for children. For science, we’d take nature walks, work on a science experiment kit or simply read one of our many science books. I like to approach things with simplicity so that we can build off from our basic workload depending on the day.
While I’ve never taught older grades, I think it’s still important to consider what your child’s interests are so that you can build a curriculum around them that makes the learning experience one that they are truly excited about.  

Homeschooling expenses

This does differ from place to place. Here where I live, in Alberta Canada, we get a small but useful allowance that when carefully spent, can provide all the curriculum, books, and school supplies needed plus maybe a little extra for swimming lessons or soccer practice. The school board I am with requires that I carefully submit the receipts at a certain time and then I receive a refund about a month later. 

What our day looks like 

 Sophie and I both work best in the morning, so I try to get our school done in the morning. I know of a family that are all night owls so they don't start their school until 3pm! Do what works best for you and your kiddos! Also, this is also shocking to most people new to homeschooling and that is school will not take  hours! 
I came across a great little gauge on how much time to dedicate per grade and hopefully it gives you a good idea on what your school time will look like.

Preschool-15-30 minutes
Kindergarten- 30 minutes-1 hour
1st and 2nd grade- 45 minutes- 1.5 hours
3rd and 4th grade- 1.5- 3 hours
5th and 6th grade- 2.5- 3.5 hours
7th and 8th grade- 3-4.5 hours
High school- 3.5-6 hours

Of course every child is different, so you might take less or more time to complete school for the day. I found it helpful to set a simple expectation, 1 1/2 hours to complete Math, Religion, Spelling and Reading and then if everyone is still in a good mood, we go ahead with history, science and then more reading practice. 

Make beds
Get dressed/brush teeth
Free time for the kids while I drink my coffee and do my morning prayers/devotional
Prayer time with the kiddos
-1- 3 Math exercises
-3 pages each Phonics/Spelling
-3 pages Reading practice
-1 Religion lesson
Theo's nap time
Read aloud with girls
Chores and then free time

Fridays are our fun day! We pick a country to learn about and from there I try to gather as much as I can to make for a fun experience. This is where Pinterest comes in handy! When we learned about Japan, I had the girls make a Japanese flag out of red and white paper, candy sushi, tissue paper cherry blossoms all while listening to traditional Japanese folk music. We also learned about Mount Fuji and then that took a turn into researching more about volcanos. We also watched a video about what the kids in Japan ate for breakfast which was so neat! Eloise, who is a little foodie, was pretty impressed! If we do go on a field trip, I try to plan to go on a Friday.

Keeping small children entertained

Both Eloise and Theodore needed to be kept occupied while Sophie did her school. I did have preschool book on hand for Eloise in case she was interested but most of the time she wanted to play or sit on my lap and do a puzzle. I do have a pretty extensive collection of wooden alphabet puzzles, princess puzzles, along with LEGO, beads and other quiet educational toys I would put in the playroom for the two little ones to play with. I also found great success with purchasing some special “school” toys that I would rotate through the week and that could only be played with during school time. It was a huge hit and the two little ones felt pretty special even if they didn’t have mommy’s undivided attention. Not every day is perfect, I’ll tell you that! There were some days where both littles sat on the table, dancing and eating crayons, while Sophie and I worked on her lesson. It was nuts but in the end Eloise learned what 4 + 4 is so I guess it was a win!

Self Care for Homeschooling Moms

Being a homeschool mom sounds intimidating, I get it. Motherhood is already a balancing act now we are including teacher to the mix. I find it helpful to fill my day with lots of little things that bring me joy.
I love drinking coffee during our reading lesson. I always play my favourite classical music during school because both Sophie and I think much better with background music. I like diffusing essential oils and I try to have fresh flowers on our dining room table often. After lunch, I send the kids outside in our backyard and I listen to a podcast while loading the dishwasher. Donald and I go on dates often and we like to relax at the end of the day (usually on Friday’s to celebrate the weekend!) with a movie and snacks. I run in the evenings when Donald is home and the kids are asleep. Some evenings I just go out alone and browse Homesense. Just as you would normally, schedule time in for yourself! If something is important to you personally like reading, going to the gym, blogging, etc, make sure you put it into the calendar and make it happen. It really does make homeschooling a joy when your cup is full.

Joint Homeschooling

There are some forms of joint homeschooling called co-cops where either paid tutors or volunteer mothers take turns teaching a group of children organized by ages once a week. This is a great way to socialize and also for you to have a break from teaching. Another option given the current pandemic situation would be to get together with a cohort family once a week and maybe work on a science project, take a hike in nature or study a country. Or you know to just play while the adults drink coffee! 

But I'm not a crafty mom/patient person/good teacher!

You already have one very important element down; you love your child and want what's best for them. Manage your expectations in the school department, make time for snuggles and/or heart felt conversations, walks in nature and READ A TON OF BOOKS! You got this mama!


Reading program
Reading Comprehension
Reading Practice
History Books, here and here
Nature Reference book
The Good and the Beautiful program- I personally have never used this program but I know many people that love it!

More Good Stuff
Read Aloud Revival- I love this blog and podcast! So helpful for homeschooling mamas!
Nurture Motherhood- a favorite instagram I follow. Keep an eye out for her homeschool bundle that is launching soon!
A little J + K- the queen of creativity has some really fun ideas for Pre-K that I love. Follow her on Instagram!

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