Tuesday, December 27, 2011
One of my goals is to make my part in homeschooling simple. That is one of the reasons for the learning centers I am putting together around the house. All I do is put the center together, and then my children are able to spend countless hours using them and learning all on their own. As with math I have chosen a wonderful curriculum that comes with books that tell me exactly what to say and do and a set of manipulates so that I have everything I need in my math basket. All I had to do was take my book to my local postal center to make copies of all the worksheets and tests. Then each morning while the kiddos are playing all I do is open the math book for a few minutes to read over what we are learning and then call them down to teach it.
This is a picture of a week of lesson plans for both of my children. Simple! I have filled a magazine holder with five file folders labled each with one day of the week. I also have added a "basic unlabeled weekly" lesson planner sheet that I have filled out with our plans for the week. I printed the planner sheet from here.
We spontaneously decided to take off from school last week and this week, so this is actually filled up with next week's lessons. We normally just go on to the next devotional for Bible time and our next lesson during math which pretty much takes away all of the planning for those subjects. For reading we read what we feel like reading so again no planning. I have put the "Magic School Bus" chapter book we are reading in the container so that we can just grab it during group reading time.
The other subject we do each day right now is science and that is what takes a little bit of time to plan for me. I am currently doing unit studies with the children on subjects that interest them. Tonight I went through our unit study on rocks that we are currently doing and printed out every page we need for the lapbook we will be putting together. There are eight different components to the lapbook so I have decided to do one component Monday through Thursday for two weeks. On Friday we will do a hands on activity. I put the pages we need for next week in the corresponding folders, tucked the lapbook pages for the next week behind the folders, and then printed out information on how to make a volcano and put it in the Friday folder. It really didn't take much time time at all, but as the children get older I expect science to take more time to plan.
So how do you simplify lesson planning?
This post is linked up to Works For Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Recently it hit me. There isn't a good reason why I shouldn't bring the homeschool room downstairs where we spend most of our time. Of course I didn't want everything out in the open for people to see. I wanted to be able to decorate downstairs where everyone who comes over sees and have all of the kids things upstairs where they don't see. But of course this was not a good reason to keep things as they were which was not enjoyable for any of us.
I have been working really hard on bringing everything down and I am almost done! It has been wonderful. Each time the kids want to play a board game and I am doing dishes I only have to walk to the dining room to get the game down and then am able to quickly get back to what I was doing. Most of the crafting supplies are now within their reach and they are able to sit at the dining room table and create while I am folding the towels. Their lives are richer and my life is easier. :) The room isn't finished yet, but this is how it looks right now. Well... after I had the kids pick up the toys they were playing with and just left in the middle of the floor.
I like it. I really love that my little boy can't tear it up without me seeing. That was a big problem. Nothing was able to stay in it's place. I am also very excited about the days of the week drawers that my neighbor gave me. I am going to try filling them up each Sunday with books, games, worksheets etc that I would like them to work with that day. They are very excited about the plan, but we will see how it works in the real world.
If you have posted pictures of your homeschool room on your blog please leave me a comment! I LOVE looking at other people's school rooms to get ideas for ours.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
"Creating a learning environment is the key. Make your entire home an exciting, vibrant place where learning is happening all the time - a place where loving to learn is as natural a part of your children's everyday existence as loving to play. Make it a child-friendly environment that is rich in interesting, inspiring, mentally stimulating options at every turn. Use every part of your home to engage your children's senses in the learning process and to strengthen their emotional ties to the home - the smell of fresh bread baking, the sounds of Baroque chamber music, the sights of beautiful Scripture calligraphy and interesting artwork. Your entire home should reflect your homeschooling values from the way you arrange your furniture to the books you leave out on tables to the pictures and verses you hang on the wall to the way you use your kitchen. There should be no discernible dividing lines between home and education. The natural atmosphere of your home should be alive with learning and life."
I couldn't have come up with a better description for a home "alive with learning and life" then this paragraph from the Clarkson's book. This is how I want my home to be! A major light bulb moment for lack of a better term. I am having so much fun filling our home library with beautiful literature, hanging posters that have information that I am challenging the children to learn, scattering Bible verses throughout the house, and creating "discovery corners".
Monday, December 5, 2011
Last weekend we went to Dewberry Farms and had tons of fun. It normally costs quite a bit to get in, but all of December it is free so I have been going and letting my kids run wild. We live in the suburbs (not my idea, but it was the best place for us when we moved here) and our yard is so tiny that we might have only enough room for two blades of grass. So of course anytime I can find a nice place to take the kids and let them experience a little bit of nature I am all for that. I took pictures and made the cutest photo collage in the shape of a heart that you can see above. I just didn't realize it would have such a large web address stamped across it. Too cute not to show so there it is anyways.
On Monday we did most of our school on the livingroom floor. It flowed pretty natural. We had our devotional and Bible reading. Then we had our math lesson which looked like this:
My son loves to get into the manipulatives while we do our lesson. As long as it keeps him happy I am happy. He used to crawl all over me anytime I tried to do lessons. Then I started writing on a small dry erase board that has lines on it that we were using for math. My daughter was interested and read what I was writing, and then wanted me to write down the story she told me. Once we finished that I told her to write her own story on the board and she did and she was happy about doing it. I was very excited about this because she never wants to write. Because of a tip from a wonderful homeschooling mom (http://www.ourbusyhomeschool.blogspot.com/) I pointed out two things she did right and just one thing she needed to fix. She felt very proud of her work because of the good things I said, and then fixed the mistakes with a smile on her face. What progress!
After lunch we cuddled on the couch while watching Narnia because we had just finished the book and the kids loved it. They sat and watched the entire movie which is unusual for them to do with any movie that doesn't have cartoon characters. I thought they would think it was scary, but they didn't but instead really enjoyed it. Then again I thought they would be really upset about my husband killing his first deer a few weeks ago, but they were fine with that. I am still having a hard time with it, but I think that is because of watching Bambie as a child. I think Bambie will be banned from our house!
The rest of the day they played board games and did art projects together nicely. One of the best things I ever did for our homeschool was fill a small chest of drawers with art supplies. There are markers, crayons, googly eyes, tissue paper squares, magazines, paint, paper, pipe cleaners, pom poms, scissors and more all within reach. They are pretty creative and come up with some wonderful art projects. What they come up with is always better than any of the mommy directed crafts I come up with. Not only are they able to use their God given creativity, but they practice there fine motor skills such as cutting, coloring and writing.
Tuesday went just as well. We started reading "Meet Kit" one of the books from the American Girl series. My daughter can't wait to watch that movie! Then today we did no school work at all. We did our devotional and Bible reading, went to Ballet, played and then went to church after dinner.
So how has your week gone? Leave me a comment even if just to stay hi. I would love to know how your week has gone, and to read your blog if you have one. I am addicted to blog reading and I need some new ones to read. :) And I would love to know that I am not the only one that reads my blog posts.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Slowly I have realized that if I don't want to send my kids to public schools then I don't want to model our homeschool after them. I have been reading the book "Educating the WholeHearted Child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson which has given me peace of mind when it comes to doing things differently then they are done in public schools. I should know that because we have already done things differently and my daughter has made wonderful progress and my son has learned his entire alphabet and a bunch of the letter sounds without us following a curriculum for 7 hours a day. I haven't actually spent over an hour a day with my daughter using any written lesson plans yet.
This past summer I went to our local homeschool conference and there were two life changing (or homeschool changing) things that I got from it. The first thing was learning about Sally Clarkson and the book I mentioned earlier, "Educating the Wholehearted Child". I love Sally's whole book method. I love the idea of learning from real books rather than textbooks. I loved reading as a child, but not once did I have the desire to pick up a textbook for enjoyment.
The second thing I learned was that no subject or bit of information is more important than my relationship with my children. If I am fighting and struggling with my child over a subject then it just isn't worth it. For example, I purchased an English textbook for my daughter at the conference this summer thinking my daughter would like it. She did like it at first, but as time went on she ended up hating it and I would get into a struggle with her. I am now selling that book and we will be learning grammar by reading and writing during elementary instead.
Another struggle I have when it comes to a typical homeschool day is that I hate routine! Routine to me means boring! I am spontaneous and don't want to do the same thing twice. However, I believe that a routine (not schedule) is beneficial to my kiddos. Recently I have made progress in developing a routine for our family. I have realized a few things that have helped us. First thing I realized is that we are homeschooling! We live in Texas and do not have to report to anyone. Our routine is ours and ours alone. It doesn't have to look like anyone else's. The first thing I decided to do out of the norm was change bath time from night to right after lunch. No one I know takes baths after lunch, however that is the time that works best for us. I am not happy in the morning so morning doesn't work. At night time I am pretty much done for. Is that bad to say? I love my children, but I am exhausted at night and ready for a little bit of alone time. After lunch works great for us.
The rest of our routine is very loose. I have been slowly adding things in to where we have a bit of structure, but not too much to where I lose it and throw out my whole routine. Now that the kids know what to expect they help to keep me on track as well because they love what we do.
In the morning I wake up and make breakfast which now consists of either Cheerios or whole wheat bagels with Nutella, fruit, and milk. The kids are happy, and I don't have to cook. I am sooo over hot breakfasts! Did I mention I am not a morning person?
After breakfast we do a devotional and my daughter practices reading to me from her Bible. she then do math which takes 15 minutes or less most of the time. My son will play with some of the manipulatives in our math basket while she works. Then sometimes she plays some of the math games with him which helps him to learn his numbers, counting, patterns, sorting, etc. She loves the idea of teaching her brother, and I am happy to let her do it. Maybe one day she will grow up to homeschool her babies as well.
After math we do whatever we want to do until lunch. This is convenient because my daughter has ballet one day a week in the morning. We are easily able to eat breakfast, do our morning routine, go to ballet and be home for lunch and our afternoon routine. Also, if we want to meet up with someone at the park, or go do something fun nearby we are able to do so without messing up our routine. And if we do mess up our routine - so what? We just start again tomorrow.
After lunch we read. We read together, but we will also have silent reading. The kids love to grab a book and a snack before running off to their rooms to get comfy in their favorite spots to "read". My daughter is a good reader so she is able to read her books and she will come to me afterwards to tell me about what she read. My son will be in his room just looking at the pictures, but I am very happy with that. He is developing a love of books. One of my favorite things to see is that at night once in a while I will go into his room after he has fallen asleep and he will have a book open on his tummy going up and down with each breath. So sweet!
After we read we do science and then are done with our structured learning. Just because we are done with structured learning doesn't mean that we are done with learning. We can never stop learning because it is part of our life. When they are not directed by me they are choosing their own stories to read, playing in the different learning stations I have put together for them, or upstairs playing with their toys or make believe.
I love how things are going, and can't wait to add in some new things such as Spanish, history which will alternate days with science, and writing. Thanks to many other homeschooling mom who blog I have many great ideas for these subjects. And if my great ideas turn out to be duds then so what? I can decide one day that something isn't working and do something completely different the next day. One of the many things I love about homeschooling! :)