Homeschool Open House has been in full swing for a few weeks now and I'm just now getting around to posting about ours. I've really enjoyed reading all of the different things people do and how they conduct their homeschools. It's amazing how much you can learn from others, as well as finding lots of new resources along the way.
Our homeschool began about seven years ago with our oldest daughter, who is now 13.. She had attended kindergarten in public school and was two months into her first grade year when we decided to pull her out to homeschool. We had talked about homeschooling for awhile but hadn't taken any action until our daughter entered first grade. There were a few incidents which caused us to go ahead and pull her out and begin homeschooling. I guess I should mention that at this time, my husband was teaching fifth grade in a public school. I think alot of people thought it was strange that he was a teacher but we homeschooled our children. Anyway, like many first time homeschoolers I've talked to over the years, I was worried about following state SOL's and getting everything just right. Fast forward to now, my whole way of thinking has changed. I'm much more relaxed and that works out much better for us. Come along with me and I'll show you how we do things.
Welcome to our home. We have two daughters who are 13(getting ready for 8th grade) and almost 9 (getting ready for 3rd grade).
We homeschool year round but do take holidays and sick days as needed. We also have play dates and field trips quite often. We are late bloomers and don't start our new school year until the week after Labor day. That is due to the fact that we normally take our family vacation during the Labor Day holiday. We have a pretty flexible schedule for several reasons. We are night owls so we like to start later in the mornings. Sometimes we'll start around 9am and other times it could be much later :-o) I try to keep things as structured as possible but since my hubby works from home three days a week, things could change in an instant. I do try and make sure that we always cover math, language arts, and do some reading everyday. It's easier to catch up with history or science if you miss a day.
If I were asked to recommend some reading materials for parents who intend to homeschool, the first thing I would give them is "When You Rise Up" by R.C. Sproul, Jr. This is probably the most thought provoking books I've read in a long time. I read the book a few years ago and I've recently decided to read it again each year before the start of our new year. It's just that good folks! The second resource I really like is Ruth Beechick's "You Can Teach Your Child Successfully". There are also smaller booklets by Beechick that are very helpful including, An Easy Start in Arithmetic, A Strong Start in Language, and A Home Start in Reading.
This year, Logan used a computer based curriculum called Switched On Schoolhouse. She really loved it and I did too. It was really neat for her to be able to move at her own pace without having to wait for me to explain things. She could go from lesson to lesson without any problem and I, in turn, could work with her sister at the same time. I have decided to go back to books and workbooks this coming year because SOS had a few glitches that were really inconvenient for me. I will consider using it again in the future though. Caroline did a combination of things this year. She used Saxon math, History for Little Pilgrims, McGraw-Hill language arts workbooks, and BJU science. They were all leftovers from Logan's earlier years.
A few of the materials Logan (13yo) will be using in the coming year is Saxon Algebra 1/2, Introductory Logic, Exploring Creation with General Science, and Biblioplan. We're still working on language arts material but in all honesty, there are tons of resources online that I can use without having to purchase anything. I'm considering using the 9th grade Life Pacs that Jenny gave me. Caroline will be using Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Simply Grammar, Biblioplan, and SRA Spelling 3. We have not decided on a math curriculum because this is her problem area. We used Saxon this year and it just isn't working with her. We're trying to decide between Horizons, Singapore, and Math-U-See. We need something a little less textbook and alot more hands on. I also try and skim through E.D. Hirsch grade level books to cover some of the core curriculum he suggests they know by a certain grade. I have found those books to be very helpful.
I mentioned our schedule was pretty flexible but I try to shoot for getting the kids ready to start around 9. I do that because I have great hope that one of these days, I'll actually get started at that time and be finished early in the day! Wishful thinking maybe but that's ok! Our normal morning routine goes something like this:
Two days per week, the hubster goes into the office to work. On those days, I get up around 7:30 and see him off to work by 8. I wake the kids up then and they do a few morning chores, eat breakfast, and get themselves ready for the day (shower if needed, dressed, etc.). About 9-ish, Logan goes off with her Saxon math to do her lesson for the day. I usually check email, read a few blogs, pay bills, do laundry, and eat breakfast while Caroline works on her spelling. We continue this type of schedule (with various subjects) until it's time for lunch (usually around 12). Logan is normally in charge of lunch so that I may have a little free time to finish up emails, etc. Many times I'm still in my pj's at lunch time and I'll run off, while the kids eat, to take a quick shower. I'm crazy like that! The other three days, hubster works from home and our schedule bends to his. For the most part, things run about the same except that we may delay some lessons if he needs us to run errands or anything. It's very nice to have him around so much during the day because there are times when I need him. There have been a few times when I just couldn't explain something to the kids in "their language".
I hope that things will be a little different this year. I am trying to work out a 4-day schedule with Fridays completely open for projects, art, music, field trips, and friends. I think it will give all of us something to look forward to at the end of the week. We're going to try out a neat looking study called A Chronological History of Music and Its Composers. We will also be using G.I. Williamson's Westminster Shorter Catechism for Study Classes for our morning Bible study.
As for workspace, we don't have a designated area where we do our studies. Most of the time, it's at the kitchen table or in our den downstairs. I had thrown up a craft table several months ago and it quickly became covered with our school materials. I guess it's safe to assume that it is now our "school table" for the time being. We also love to work outside on the deck as the weather allows. Lately it's been so hot that we haven't even thought about going out there! Normally the girls don't work in the same area (because they tend to distract each other) but this week, they both managed to be at "the table" at the same time.
I'm also trying to incorporate lapbooks as much as possible this year. Caroline and I just made our first one together and had lots of fun. Lapbooks, by definition, are learning aids that are meant to take the place of worksheets. They are made from file folders. You can use anything you want but if you want them to last, using cardstock inside, as well as laminating some things, is the way to go. I think the idea is that kids have more fun learning, and retain more, when they are able to be creative. I know that I retain more information when I am able to be creative with it! Lapbooking is a serious thing to some people. I've been doing alot of research lately and I've come across some "hard core" lapbookers! My plan is to make a few lapbooks throughout our school year and at the end of it, store those. Each new year, we'll make more new ones and at the end of that year, they'll be stored. I hope to save these and give them to the girls when they are older and start their own family. It'll be like having a collection of storybooks to give them. Caroline didn't show the front of the lapbook but she had some art work on the front. Inside, we included vocabulary words pertaining to sharks, shark facts, pictures of shark teeth, colored printable of about ten different kinds of sharks, a shark diagram (it's under the shark printables), and a poem about sharks. Because this was our first one, it was more of an experiment than a keeper. We'll be using sturdier materials inside next time and we'll also use colored file folders so they look a little more fancy.
Thank you for coming along as we shared our homeschool with you. A big thank you to Tiany for hosting Homeschool Open House!