It’s our fifth year homeschooling and I’m feeling like a veteran! The “what” of method and curriculum was easy this year since we know what works for us.
The hard part? Giving up our afternoon rest time for school! As most of you know, I am an avid proponent of afternoon rest times and have been napping with my kids since I was pregnant with my third bay. Well, it was a very happy six years of that, but the time has drawn to a close. We need Levi to be asleep in order to accomplish our school time. It has officially become impossible to do anything productive with this guy around! This little boy needs to be active or out of doors or he is, how shall we say….difficult to keep happy. (Or happy because he is vigorously running a matchbox car across my keyboard or playing with a chef’s knife.)
The relinquishing of my alone time has been a very slow process over the years with the birth of each child and the addition of home education to our days. I used to wonder how other moms could do it without at least one quiet hour during the day. The answer, for me, is that there is a tradeoff that makes it worth giving up. Keeping everyone happy and having their needs met now brings more peace to our home than my “me” time.
Oh yes, there are days when I cancel school to take a nap to survive. But for the most part the girls very much look forward to a few quiet hours in the afternoon where they have my full attention and are free from the terrors of their books being ripped or their paints dumped out.
Our Afternoon Schooling Routine
In the morning hours we do chores, run errands and spend time outside. A few days a week I squeeze in some exercise or some administrative tasks. After lunch (here’s a post about that) I lay Levi down for his nap and school time begins. We do math, some form of language arts, our read aloud for the day, and any projects from our curriculum.
After Levi wakes up I have learned it is wise to start moving towards dinner and our evening routine.
Every other Monday morning we meet up with our Wild and Free nature group. We have done a lot of creek playing this year, both with our nature group and in the creek behind our house.
June is very adamant that she do school with the big girls. So she has a simple kindergarten math and phonics workbook that she does to make her feel like she is included. (Libby was also very much this way and taught herself basic phonics and math with very little instruction from me.) I try to sit with her to do these but sometimes she insists on forging ahead without me so then I let her write in them wrong and backwards and tell her what a great job she is doing. I will also read picture books to her exclusively, either before the baby wakes for his nap or after he goes to bed at night.
So, in the evenings I have one to two hours to do things that I cannot do with kids around. I have curated those evening activities down to reading, blogging or spending time with David.
Then I sleep. It feels as abrupt as it sounds, ha!
This is the tradeoff we make to be home educators, and it is worth it, I think. It’s seasons-of-life transitions like this one that help me innovate with the resources I have.
We are using a literature and project-based curriculum by the Peaceful Press called The Precious People. This takes us from creation through ancient history, including studies of non-Western people groups. This curriculum covers literature, science and history for us. Mainly, we read books and do projects! Of course, we are also working on making a timeline of all the events we study too. I love how this guide is formulated for families so that multiple age groups can participate at their own level.
We have been using Math U See for the last few years and it has worked beautifully for us. We rarely ever need the manipulative blocks any more; we watch a short lesson and then use the workbook to practice what we learned for as long as we need to until the concept is mastered. That may be two days or seven. Right now both of the girls are in the same math and we are halfway through the Beta book.
We are keeping the two things that have worked for us in years past: Explode the Code workbooks and written narrations. We are in book six of Explode the Code and I think maybe they are outgrowing them, but it is such an easy activity for them to do independently.
This year I really felt like the girls were ready for formal spelling because they are constantly trying to write letters and stories and asking me for the spellings of things. They very much want to know the right spelling. I got a simple curriculum called Sequential Spelling, which is formulated especially for homeschoolers. They absolutely love it and ask to do it daily.
Written narrations of course are a weekly habit that we are getting back into. Writing is one of the hardest things we do in our homeschool, so I only assign one a week and try to make sure there is as much choice as possible in what they write about.
If you want to see more in-depth explanations of my philosophy or the curriculums I mentioned, you can read my other homeschool planning posts from years past. They can all be found here, along with other tips and pictures of our space. Happy homeschooling, friends!
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