Two years ago, I began reading about homeschooling (thank you, again, Tanya of 4 Little Ferguson’s!). I knew in my heart that it was the best way for children to learn if the adult has the discipline and stamina to do it. At the time I was reading about it, I was in my first year teaching kindergarten and was on the cutting block budget-wise if folks didn’t retire.
When I approached my husband about it if things didn’t work out at the school, I was met with a resounding, “We can’t afford it.” I agreed, but would indulge myself here and there and read as much as I could.
Fast forward two years: Things worked out after my first year, but no one retired from our school last year, so I was cut. Due to lots of behavioral issues with other kids in the school, the birth of baby B, and the job getting cut, I truly felt like this was what I was being pushed to do: stay home, be Mom, and teach the kids. After all, teaching my older 3 couldn’t be harder than the 21 kindergarteners I’d just had last year…right?
ANYWAY, since I’d already researched what curriculum I wanted (see my other post about Oak Meadow), I quickly found everything I needed on eBay and saved a bunch of moolah.
I read and blocked out our schedule during the summer and decided we’d start after Labor Day. It was awesome, right from the very beginning. It uses what my teacher friend likes to say, “Going slow to go fast,” meaning that you establish routine for what seems like forever, but once the student feels comfortable and knows exactly what to expect and do, things take off quickly after that.
I feel like Morning Meeting is such an important way to start the school day, so quickly my kids got used to lighting the candle and sitting in a circle. We say an opening verse like, “Morning has come; Night is away; We rise with the sun; To welcome the day.” Then, we do “Mirror Work”, which is looking in a hand mirror, saying good morning to yourself, and then inserting an affirmation. Once they knew what an affirmation was, my kids enjoy coming up with their own. We started small with “I am kind” and it’s blossomed from there. I think this is crucial in this day and age, where body image is so negative. This gives children a chance to know and love themselves and planting positive seeds about who they are in their brains to use now and into adulthood. From there, we do a dance or stretch break. We are also learning sign language, which they are picking up easier than I thought! They love to sign with the baby to inspire him to use sign language, too. (We are having fun watching all the sign language Christmas songs this time of year!) After that, we meditate. Sometimes we do a guided meditation, but for the most part, I want them to learn how to sit still with themselves and their thoughts, so I set a timer. They’re up to four or five minutes. This is harder some days than others, but it’s a skill that will help them in so many ways as they grow up.
We say a closing verse, and then they get to work. Big B and S jump into their spelling and language arts. They’re both writing in cursive quite a bit, and that was a struggle for S, my perfectionist. This curriculum has students do their best to copy what they see and not strive for the perfect penmanship, which is hard for her. She’s now doing okay, but it was like pulling teeth for a while! Big B had experience with it from the school system, so it’s mostly review. A will do something like write upper- and lowercase alphabets and then say their sounds, play word games, and I read to her – a lot. We just finished the stories that go with each letter of the alphabet. Then she draws a picture of the letter featured in the story with details surrounding it.
From there, the big kids read for 15 minutes and I read to A. Then, they take a break and do the chickens, a quick chore and have a snack.
Afternoons are filled with recess, then math. We do a craft or recorder lessons, depending on the day. Big B is taking Art and Music at the local school, so we go back and forth a little bit, but I’ll get some shopping done while we wait. Other than that, our day is done around 1:30/2 and then I read to them again at night. Three days a week is social studies, which is more reading by me to them with a cool project tied in. Science fills in the days they don’t do math and that is straight forward as well. If you’re considering homeschooling or looking for a change of curriculum, try Oak Meadow! They won’t let you down!