We’ve been homeschooling for just over a month now. For the most part, it’s been great. I love watching Big learn. There have definitely been some hard bits- the days he’d rather be playing Mario Kart and any day Little decides she’s been neglected and must have attention right.this.second- but overall, we love it.
We’re settling into a routine, which is so helpful for us. It’s changed some from what I planned, but that’s ok. We’re figuring out what works the best for our family. Mornings are the best time for schoolwork, with the exception of Wednesdays (when I teach preschool music classes). Our morning routine is roughly like this:
7:45- kids get dressed
8:00- breakfast and clean-up
8:30- table time: Table time is what I call our opening exercises. We read a story or poem from The Book of Virtues, discuss the weather, and sing the days of the week song (it really is just the days of the week, sung to the Adam’s Family theme song tune).
8:40-10:00- Big chooses the order of operations. Each core subject is allotted roughly 20 minutes, though it fluctuates. Daily, we do German, writing, reading, and math. He also practices piano, has technology time, and we often have some kind of project we’re working on, but those are saved for the afternoon.
After 10:00, we’re done with “school” for the day!
So far, we are loving the curricula we chose:
ShillerMath kit 1– This was the most expensive, and I do think it’s worth it (with some tweaks). I like the multi-sensory approach it takes to math, but some lessons are very short and they tend to skip around quite a bit, and the accompanying songs are beyond cheesy. We often do 3-4 lessons a day, and not in order. If we do more than one lesson a day, I like to have all the lessons relate (instead of doing one on number recognition, one on place value, and one on measuring, I’ll look for 3 place value lessons that build on each other, even though they aren’t consecutive lessons). That said, Big loves this approach. The manipulatives are fantastic and he will often get out the scale and single unit cubes during play time. We are supplementing with MindWare’s Beginning Perplexors as a Friday fun lesson- they are word puzzle problems with an emphasis on step-by-step logic- and Big adores them.
We keep actual reading pretty simple. We are using Bob Books Set 1. Big has read all the Beginning Readers set, and we started on First Stories, but he got very frustrated, so we are going through the Beginning Readers again. I think it’s helping him gain confidence, but he’s also using the pictures and guessing at words instead of reading them, which is frustrating me. We also have dedicated time when I read to Big (and Little, when she is interested). We are using Mensa Kid’s Excellence in Reading program as a guide, and so far Big has awarded all the books 4 or 5 stars!
Writing is our most time-consuming. Most days, Big has a journal entry to do- I tell him the prompt and he dictates, and I write in yellow marker and then he traces it. I except to transition in the next month or so to copy work- same idea, but instead of yellow marker, I will write his response on the left hand page and he will copy it onto the right. His solo handwriting is becoming much more legible since we started. We are also working through All About Spelling Level 1. Typically, the AAS creators don’t recommend starting spelling until second grade level, but Big has learned to read by spelling, so we’re doing it anyway. We are taking it slowly, but he is absorbing the information and it shows in his reading progress! He also does a sight word worksheet every day- I choose the sight word based on what he comes across in his Bob Books for the week- and on Fridays we play a game with the sight words written on cards (usually Concentration or Go Fish).
Currently, we are using a combination of tools for German learning. I choose a theme for the week (this week is colors). Some days, we watch a clip from Muzzy in Gondoland; other days we drill; still other days we do a project and use our new words (today we made stamp art using colored ink and Big had to ask for the color he wanted auf Deutsch). We also have a variety of German language picture books we read. Starting in January, we’ll be using the Goethe-institut’s “Felix und Franzi” curriculum.
Big has been taking music classes through Let’s Play Music. He’s in the second year now and is beginning to play the piano. It’s a fabulous program with so much theory integrated into it- he’s learning music theory topics that I didn’t know until high school, and I started music classes at age 4! He practices about 10 minutes every day.
Computer time (our technology component) is just a half hour of time allowed on the computer to a few websites- Big is only allowed access to PBS kids, Discovery Kids, Nick Jr, and Disney Jr. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the content- by and large he plays educational games, and he’s learning to navigate the computer to boot! He’ll start working on beginning coding in January with Nick.