Homeschool Update

I have quite a few new followers since the last time I talked about our homeschool journey. My daughter is just turning five this month so we don’t legally report to the state until this coming July, but we’ve been homeschooling semi-officially since my daughter asked to do workbooks at two and a half. When my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer a year ago, and then died over the course of four months, homeschool was put on the back burner. That was not a big deal because we weren’t legally required to be homeschooling yet. We still did homeschool things and made our way slowly through her various workbooks as time and interest permitted, but we didn’t keep any records or a schedule.

Currently we’re still just doing school when Pepper asks to. Which is just about every day. To start getting her prepared for the more consistent work we’ll have to do once the new school year begins I have given her one rule. My only rule is that she has to do her math and phonics work first and then she can choose whichever other subjects she wants to work on. Otherwise, even though she is fantastic with her math and her phonics/reading she would only end up choosing to do art and geography 24 hours a day.

I didn’t look to see when I last wrote about homeschool on here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the things we are using are the same books we had a year ago. Some subjects have been very slow going.

The books we are using currently are kept on one section of my desk and she has a spot where she can sit next to me to do her work whenever she would like to. This is what we are using at this moment in time. I’ve included a link to Amazon for each one so you can see more information if you want to, but they are not affiliate links.

We don’t use all of these every day. And we use some other resources too of course. Flashcards, songs, and videos on Youtube for her Spanish, math based games and apps, ABC Mouse at the library, and lots and lots of reading, either her reading to me, her reading to herself, or me reading out loud to her. Right now we’re reading the first Harry Potter book and a book about JoJo Siwa .

This is just a check in to show where we are right now. But, I’ll be posting a few more updates leading up to our first official year of homeschooling as we get closer to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Homeschool Confessions Collab

I saw this collaboration on The Simple Rugged Path’s Youtube channel and wanted to participate. There are 10 questions.

How many children do you homeschool and what are their ages?

I homeschool one child. She is three years old currently and we are working through her kindergarten year. She will be four in the middle of February.

What is your homeschool schedule?

I scheduled us for five days a week of school and five weeks of schooling with one week off, but she is still very small so I really just let her take the lead. Some days we may end up doing a weeks worth of Geography and nothing else. Other days we may do nothing but art or read alouds. It all seems to be balancing out at the moment though. And because she’s too small to need to be reporting to the state she’s really free to do as much or as little as she wants on any given day for a couple more years yet.

Are you planning to take a holiday break?

I had been planning to take a couple of weeks off for the holiday but because of the way we’re doing school at this point, entirely child led as for what subjects we do on any given day, I doubt we’ll have many days off entirely. She asks to do some amount of kindergarten pretty much daily.

If you take a holiday break do you find it difficult to get back in to your homeschool schedule? 

We won’t be taking a break this year because my daughter won’t want to, but anytime we’ve taken more than a week or so off for any reason she’s been reluctant to do very much at one time, so I imagine we would have some difficulty getting back to a regular full school day since we’re not really even doing that now.

When homeschooling multiple children what advice can you offer to other homeschoolers in regards to teaching and planning for multiple age levels?

I have an only child so I’m no help here.

All children are unique learners and have there own learning styles so when it comes to homeschooling multiple children do you use the same homeschool approach with each one? 

Again, just one kiddo for me. I feel like using the same approach for kids that need different things defeats the purpose of homeschooling though .

What coping mechanisms can you share that help you to stay focused when having an overwhelming day?

We don’t really stay focused if one or both of us are overwhelmed. We always take a break away from each other and kindergarten work for a little bit. Then we come back and try again later or the next day. If she still isn’t getting something I’ll look up a song on youtube that covers the concept we’re struggling with or we might ask Daddy to help try to explain it another way. He was a math major so he sometimes helps us with math concepts I know how to do, but don’t really know how to explain. If all else fails it’s time for a dance party and a snack and we try that particular concept again the following week.

What is the hardest thing about homeschooling?

Being confident that I’m doing enough for her. Arguing with people who think homeschooling as a concept isn’t okay. Our personalities clash sometimes, especially when one or both of us are stressed out. No breaks ever. Mom and teacher are both full time exhausting jobs.

What is your homeschooling philosophy?

I believe that if my child loves to read and knows how to ask questions that we can find answers to, she can do anything, and we are succeeding in our homeschool.

What is your motivation and stops you from giving up on homeschooling?

My daughter. She loves learning and she is so bright. I know in my heart and my head that this is the best, most loving, safest place for her to learn and grow. And she is thriving.

 

Kindergarten Homeschool Update

At the time of writing this we’re nine weeks in to the school year. And we’re about three weeks behind in most of our subjects.

Things started out amazingly well. If you don’t know, my kindergartener is three and half years old, we did preschool at home starting at age two due to her own leading and we just moved her up to the next level of her subjects in August when she asked to start Kindergarten early. So we’re not terribly stressed about being behind. She wouldn’t be allowed to start public school here until September 2020 anyway, so even if we did nothing else this year we would still be way ahead of her peers.

Because she is so young, I don’t push very much. If she wants to do kindergarten that day we do and the past few weeks she mostly hasn’t. The first three weeks of so of the new year she woke up and asked to do school every single morning, even on weekends. We didn’t miss a day for fifteen days straight.

And then the arguing started. We would do everything except math and then she would throw tantrums to not have to do math. We did that for a few days and then we tried moving math to the beginning of the day. That worked for a day or two and then we just didn’t end up doing any school at all because she refused to do math and I didn’t let her do other things until we did that first. We were both unhappy so we just left it as a vacation for a week.

When we tried again she was no less stubborn so we have mostly been picking a subject and working on that as long as she has the attention span and desire to do so and we’re making some progress. The biggest issue with this has been that by the time we make it to music, for example, she has forgotten her notes again and we spend the first ten minutes or so relearning them.

As for a more specific update:

Readalouds: We are right on schedule with our poetry book and have also read the first 40 or so pages of What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know which has all been poems so far. We have also read 6 chapter books. Five of which were on our list and one was a requested addition from my daughter. We’re currently reading another additional book at her request.

Art: We are three weeks behind in this. My daughter loves the painting and doesn’t much care about the art appreciation aspects of the curriculum.

Handwriting: This is one of the subjects we’re pretty far ahead in. The beginning pages were far too simple for her. We should be on page 34 if we were on the same scheduled day as everything else, but she’s on page 56.

History: We are the same three weeks behind in this as everything else. She enjoys the readaloud portion, but doesn’t have much patience for the coloring pages. I usually let her draw or explore the map for the chapter.

Geography: This is my daughter’s favorite subject. She has found a love of maps and loves to see globes and maps anywhere she can find them. If I pulled these books out today she would probably finish them all in one go. I might need to look for more geography resources for her soon.

Phonics and Creative Writing: We are about three weeks behind in all of these. She tolerates the explode the code, but hates having to form her letters. She is not enjoying her Plaid phonics either at this time and we may look for something else, but money is not really available to purchase anything else right now. I think this one might just be far too easy for her. The four squares are a favorite of hers and she lets her sass come out in them on the regular.

Science: Same three weeks behind here too. She likes these books a lot. We got her to cut and lick squash which is a huge deal in our house. She also loves her lifesize body picture that she adds body parts to each week.

Music: This was going great. She immediately loved the first book because it has stickers and she picked everything up way faster than I did. She even figured out how to play Mary had a Little Lamb and Hot Cross Buns in the first week using letters written on her keyboard and on the note sheet. Then we didn’t really do music for a couple weeks and we’re relearning the names and counts for whole, half, and quarter note.

Chess: She picked this up instantly too. I had coloring sheets and was hoping she would learn a few of the names for pieces on the first lesson, but she got them all after one time through and then asked to play so we started learning how the pieces move and she loves it. She doesn’t have strategy yet or know the difference between winning and losing, but she loves to play anyway.

Scissor Skills: This is another favorite. She likes to have extra practice in this so we do printables of fun holiday themed pages.

Money: We haven’t started this yet, it will be an end of year project. The last few months of kindergarten.

Math: This is the biggest issue we have. According to my plans we should have been 30 lessons in to the Horizons Math Grade 1 curriculum. We are actually on lesson 107 of the Kindergarten curriculum. She is amazing at math and we started the kindergarten level in her preschool year of homeschool. But we never finished so it feels like we’re playing major catch up. However, she’s actually ahead for her age so I just let her take it at her speed. We just started subtraction this week and she can add double digit numbers on her own as long as she doesn’t have to carry over yet. I am crazy proud of her. So we just keep plugging along.

Overall, not too bad. We’re making progress in everything, though slower than planned and she doesn’t hate school yet so I must be doing something right.

Maybe we’ll catch up before my next check in, but maybe we won’t. And she’s so little it doesn’t quite matter yet. She loves to learn and she knows how to ask questions to find the answers that matter to her. That and her absolute love of reading everything and anything she can get her hands on our my most important goals in teaching her so I’m calling our first couple of months a success.

How is your homeschool year going?

Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory’s Story Cubes are a set of dice that have different pictures on each side of them.

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I first learned of Rory’s Story Cubes more years ago than I can really remember. Somewhere between 5 and 8 years. I received a set from my husband for Christmas. Our local grocery store was carrying them. At the time only the original orange set was available.

At another holiday after that, my birthday maybe, or the next Christmas, he got me the blue Actions set and my parents got me the green Voyages set.

Since then I have acquired more over various holidays or shopping sprees of my own. I have 45 individual dice, but hope to own them all at some point.

Currently I have:

Voyages 9 cubes
Actions 9 cubes
Original 9 cubes
Medieval 3 cubes
Mythic 3 cubes
Intergalactic 3 cubes
Clues 3 cubes
Enchanted 3 cubes
Prehistoria 3 cubes

I have sometimes used them as jumping off points for story writing exercises. I will roll a few of the cubes and get something like this

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I might write a small warm up paragraph about a boy who falls in love with a girl and gives her a gift that turns out to be some sort of medieval helmet. I wonder how that will go for the potentially budding romance?

Or I might roll all of them and see what jumps out at me to include in a piece I’m working on. I am especially prone to this use during NaNoWriMo.

My 3 year old likes to pick 8 cubes and roll them all. She asks or tells me what is on each one before she starts her story. She likes to start with ‘Once upon a time there was a little boy and a little girl’ and she goes from there incorporating each die as she comes to it.

To carry this activity further for her I write her story down as she tells me and then she gets to read it back to me. She loves it and often asks to play mommy’s story game.

Another way we have played is to choose one die at random and the first person rolls it and begins a story. When they run out of steam the next person chooses a die and continues the same story incorporating the newly rolled picture. And so on.

However we choose to use them on a given day it always brings a fun new adventure for the player, writer, or listener.

What will you write about with the following roll?

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Picture Books about Kindergarten

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My daughter is so incredibly excited to be a kindergartner. We started her kindergarten year of homeschool  on August 24th.  For about 6 weeks leading up to the start of school we checked books about kindergarten out from our library and read them all many times. It certainly helped to keep her excitement up.

Some of the books we checked out and loved over that time period are:

If you Take a Mouse to School by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The 12 Days of Kindergarten by Jenna Lettice
Kindergarten is Cool! by Linda Elovitz Marshall
Ready Set Kindergarten! by Paula Ayer
On the First Day of Kindergarten by Tish Rabe
Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
This is my Home, This is my School by Jonathan Bean
Charlie Goes to School by Ree Drummond
Super Saurus Saves Kindergarten by Deborah Underwood
Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice F Ransom

My daughter’s favorites of the bunch were The 12 Days of Kindergarten and On the First Day of Kindergarten.  They are both songs like the 12 days of Christmas, but with words about school and all the fun things the children are doing there.

She and I both always enjoy This is my Home, This is my School.  We love to talk about how he does school at home and how his kitchen is his cafeteria and his car is his school bus. She loves to read stories about kids that go to school in a public school setting, but she loves it even more when she can read about kids who go to school at home like she does.

My favorite book of the bunch was another book about kids that do school at home. It is called Charlie Goes to School. We hadn’t read this one before. It is new to our library. This is a very cute story about Charlie, a dog, that helps around the homestead with all of the chores like fixing a tire, shoeing a horse, and with school. He decides to start his own school to teach the animals on the homestead how to read and do math. It’s a very cute and fun story with great pictures.

These were all great reads for my new kindergartner. I’m hoping to add the two homeschool books to our home collection at some point.

Her biggest takeaway though from all of the books was that as a kindergartner it was very important she have a lunch box. I don’t want her to miss out on the things public school children do so her new lunch box is Paw Patrol and she likes to use it to eat lunch in the living room or at the park.

What books do you like to read at back to school time?

Kindergarten Extras

I count the extras for my kindergartner as anything that isn’t part of her English, math, history, science, geography, handwriting, or art. The extras include things I don’t want her to go without like music and other things like Chess that if we didn’t get to this year it wouldn’t be a big deal.

The first extra is music. As far as curriculum I purchased Music Theory Made Easy for Kids Level 1 and 2. Those are the two books we’re planning to use in Kindergarten. If she thrives and needs more I also have My First, Second, and Third Music Theory Book on hand.

Her grandfather is an organist and pianist so she has access to his instruments when we are at his house weekly, but I would also like to get a small keyboard of some sort for at home use.

The reason I chose these books in particular are because the first two books have many of the answers entered by using the provided stickers. My girl is going to love that. Also, I am not in any way musical so I wanted something fun and engaging to help me with her instruction. Daddy and Grandpa are always here for back up or take over if necessary.

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The other thing we may do for music is a mommy and me music class we’ve been taking for two years. We sing, dance, and play simple instruments. The only reason we might not do that this year is the cost. If our income has leveled off by then we will be adding that in as well.

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The next extra is chess. I learned to play chess when I was about five or six and both my brother and I did pretty well in tournaments locally. I have since taught other children in my life to play and I think it promotes some great skills that will transfer well in to other areas of her life. I plan to begin her instruction with simple coloring pages to learn the names of the pieces, we’ll move on to how each piece can move, and hopefully have her playing games and working on strategy by the end of the year. If we run out of time or she just doesn’t have the patience yet, this is something that can pretty easily be dropped.

 

The rest of our extras are individual workbooks for the most part that will be used for a part of the year or simply as needed. We’ll be reading from What your Kindergartner Needs to Know as it fits with the rest of our schooling, and pulling from Getting Ready for Kindergarten as we need more practice on skills covered. We also have a Kumon book of Spatial Reasoning for K & Up and a School Zone Preschool Practice Scissor Skills book for help in those respective areas.

Finally the All About Me book will give her some final practice on writing her name, address, phone number, and more closer to the end of the year and she will have a keepsake all about her.

Do you add things like music and chess to your school day?

Math and Money choices for Kindergarten

Our Math program for Kindergarten will be Horizons math level 1 (first grade). She competed the kindergarten level in pre-school and loved it. She learned very well with this approach and I think it works especially well for younger kiddos because they don’t have to do too many of any one kind of problem at a time. She loves the colorful pages. I love that she is learning even more that I would have expected given her age. It was a hit last year so we’re simply moving up to the next level for the new year. A very easy choice.

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We will also be doing some more actual work with money this year. I don’t mean just looking at and identifying coins and bills. I’m talking about budgeting and using money wisely. For this we will be using Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior. We have the kit with the activity book, chore chart with magnets, and give, save, spend envelopes. We also have the bank with the same three sections, and the set of 6 picture books.

We have read the picture books several times before, but will actually be focusing on learning some of the concepts of budgeting, saving, giving, working, and spending wisely.

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This should be a great math and money year for my girl.

How do you teach math? Do you use a spiral or mastery approach?