Since having children, I have been intrigued by the idea of homeschooling. Much of it has to do with my love of teaching, in combination with my desire to raise our children firm in the Lord. Throw in our transient military lifestyle, some special needs in our family, an infant on the way, changes in the culture, and New York's curriculum and laws, I'm ready to give this homeschooling thing a shot. I spent two days doing a mini homeschool trial and was pleased with the results.
There is a lengthy list of factors for our decision, but the bottom line is that next school year, Adeline will have already graduated from preschool and is not required to attend kindergarten until age five. When school starts in 2017 she will still be four years old. Since she will neither be required to attend preschool nor kindergarten, I'm planning on using next year as an exploratory year for homeschooling. Technically, I don't have to do anything formal for her at this age. But to stimulate her mentally I'm planning to put together a curriculum to provide preschool at home. I trust my abilities as a former teacher to create a fun and inspiring learning environment for her both at home and in our community. We'll use the year to see if homeschooling works for our family. If it's not beneficial, she can attend kindergarten next year when she's the appropriate age, but if we're all content with the homeschool arrangement, we can continue the following year.
A couple weeks ago, we were homebound as both the kids were sick with bronchitis. Even though they weren't feeling top notch, I decided to use the opportunity to do a homeschool trial. I went to Pinterest as my main resource for activities. If I homeschool Adeline, I'm not planning on using an existing program for preschool, but rather creating my own. I enjoy this aspect of teaching and I feel I can do it well with the training I've received. One vital technique I learned as a teacher is to borrow ideas before reinventing the wheel. I'm all about using others' successful ideas--so to Pinterest I went. There are endless projects listed there and I pinned tens of images to a homeschool board.
Adeline was studying the letter "M" at school so I incorporated that into our lessons. I also looked for reading, writing, and faith-based activities. I chose a few activities for the morning and a few for the afternoon. It looks like there is a ton packed into the day, but most lessons only take about ten minutes. My children wake up around 6 A.M., so I need enough to semi-fill the morning hours until they nap around one in afternoon. They awake around 3 P.M., giving us a couple more hours of time to learn and play until I typically put on a television show around 5:00--when I start cooking for dinner, which we eat around 5:30. Then rest of the evening involves play with dad, bathtime, and then our nightly bedtime routine.
Homeschool Trial Day 1:
1. Breakfast and daily Bible reading
(We start each day by reading a designated section from a one-year Bible reading plan while we eat breakfast.)
2. Free play
(I let the kids free play while I do my daily chores and then Adeline joins me for her designated chore at the end.)
(I like to use Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube.)
4. Make an American Flag
(We learned how many stripes were on the flag and what order the colors are displayed. Then, Adeline practiced using a ruler to measure the stripes, followed by practicing her scissor skills to cut out the stripes. After that, we glued the pieces together to make the flag.)
5. Letter "M" tracing worksheet
(She practiced tracing the letter "M" and writing the letter in both capital and lowercase form.)
6. Number counting and recognition with baking cups and beads
(I wrote the numbers one through ten on the center on baking cups. Adeline used beads to put the appropriate number into each cup.)
7. Outside play
(The kids free played outside for awhile. Then, we looked for footprints in the snow, finding deer, dog, human, and some mystery animal prints.)
10. Free play
11. Letter "M" Bible devotional
(I used a lesson from Ministry-to-Children called "Our God is Mighty." The lesson included a Bible reading, experiment, and building activity.)
12. "M" is for marshmallow activity
(I traced the letter "M" on a piece of paper and the kids had to line up mini marshmallows to fill in the letter, and they enjoyed a special treat afterward!)
13. Sight words stair activity
(I looked at Fry's first 100 words and picked out a few words that being with "m." I put the words upright on the staircase and we worked on sounding out the words and finding the right word on each stair.)
14. Finding "M" sight words in storybooks
(Our last activity of the day was to read a book and locate our new sight words in the story).
Homeschool Trial Day 2:
1. Breakfast and daily Bible reading
2. Prayer Journal
(Adeline and I created a kid-friendly prayer journal, which she will ideally use on a daily basis)
3. Free play
4. Practice counting to 50
(Using the flag we made the previous day, Adeline practiced counting to fifty while I drew on a star for each number she counted.)
(We sat on the rug and read a couple stories and did some fingerplay songs)
6. Salt activity
(The kids started by coloring the bottom of a tray, which we then covered in salt. Adeline practiced drawing the letter of the week, making shapes, and then free played in the salt tray.)
7. Free play
10. Free play
11. "M" site words treasure hunt
(We took turns hiding the sight words from the previous day, finding them, sounding out the words, and locating them on a written list.)
12. Double digit number recognition
(I outlined the number ten on the back of a paper plate and let her paint it as she desired.)
13. Lego site words
(I used Fry's 100 first words as a resource to write words on our lego blocks. On the single lego blocks, I wrote the letters we needed to match on top of the legos to form the words.)
14. Letter "M" tracing activity
(I used a free printable that related to our Bible devotion project from the previous day.)
I'd love to hear your feedback!
1. What are the reasons you homeschool or consider doing so for your family?
2. If you're already a homeschool family, what programs or resources do you use?
3. What does your daily schedule look like?