homeschool: our daily rhythm

8:03 PM

I can't believe we've been homeschooling for three months now! They truly have flown by and much to my surprise this has been an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. I say surprising because in the past although I have always respected homeschooling (some of the best and smartest people I know were home schooled) I always thought the education of children was best left to "the professionals." I also didn't trust myself. I didn't think I would have enough patience. I didn't think I could juggle two age groups and two very different children. And deep down, I just questioned if I was "smart enough." 
I've found that this was one of those situations where life really rewards you for just showing up. I read as much as I could, and continue to add to my list, this summer in preparation and purchased all the essentials that we would need to study language arts, math, science and engage in art, sensory play and practice motor skills. Then we just dove in! 
One common theme in a lot of the literature that I read was that the most important thing to teach children of this age group is quite simply - a love of learning. It is a constant and delicate balance of giving and waiting for them to receive the information. The worst thing you can do is make learning a chore or something the child dreads. So I am very sensitive to their daily moods, their readiness to learn on any given day. Teddy especially, since he just turned three. Certain days he is keen to try and learn, to do something new and yet other days I can see that the best we can do is let him play independently. With Birdie it's a little different. She adores school and begs for it even on the weekends. However, even she has days when she needs to just create, paint or play. And I've made sure that our schedule always has the flexibility for that. 
That all being said all school days begin and end with "circle time." This is a time for us to sit together, to get centered and to give them some time to re-orient their minds towards learning and what we have ahead of us. After talking about the weather, the day of the week and anything else of interest we will next read a book that has subject matter similar to what we will be discussing or working on that week. This is where our Welcome to the Museum books often come in, they are great for introducing concepts related to botany, animals and history. From there we'll jump into sensory or motor related activity. This autumn we've done a lot of crafts with leaves, trees, seasons and animal groups. After a short break we will then move to either math or language arts. I don't usually do both in the same day unless Birdie is eager to. I try to devote a full hour to either math or language arts here. We do worksheets, we work with tools like puzzles, counting rods, sandpaper letters, sorting bears and just good old lined paper for number or letter practice. Once they have completed their "work" we start to wrap up. We'll have a small snack, read a story book and conclude with a quick circle time re-capping what we did that day. All of this on average takes us between three to four hours a day and allows us to finish in time for Teddy's afternoon nap. 
Below is a visual I've created and am happy to share via email for all those interested. 

Based on the literature I've read I have a good grasp on what the basics required for Birdie's age are and that is what we work on constantly - lowercase lettering, number recognition and basic addition and subtraction, letter/sound recognition, basic concepts of seasons, animal groups, basic science concepts and continuing to expand her vocabulary through reading. I use what they are currently interested in, what nature has to offer on any given week to guide me on themes and directions. The beginning and ending of each new season always provides great opportunities for hands on learning when it comes to the natural world. Interest in science comes fairly natural to our kids so often it's based on a question they had, for example "why does this cup float but this marble sink?" The workbooks that I suggested in my previous homeschooling post keep us on track when it comes to math and language arts. I have guideposts but leave enough room in-between to allow for the children's natural curiosity about the world to lead us where they need to go. 

“ object is to show that the chief function of the child--his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life--is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses...” ― Charlotte M. Mason

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