The 1st Three Weeks of Homeschool

Three weeks ago we began our homeschool journey and I am happy to report that it is going very well. I love that I get quality time with the kids and get to be part of their school education.

The first day I had grand plans of us sitting on the sofa reading together. I somehow forgot what happens when all four kids are together on the sofa. Picture this. Mom is awake with actual clothes on, no pajamas on the first day of school for me. I figured I should actual put a little effort into my appearance for the day. As I sat down with books in hand, ready to engage my children’s minds, I saw my three year olds tackle each other. While prying them off each other, out of the corner of my eye, my older two were looking like they were practicing for cirque du soleil. Leaping fearlessly off the furniture and gracefully tumbling onto the carpet.

That was the only day in the last three weeks I have done homeschool curriculum on the sofa with all four kids. I have to laugh because I should have known better, but after reading so many books and blogs about homeschooling I had this idea of what it would look like that first day.

All that to say I am learning right along with my kids each and everyday. And I couldn’t be happier. Since starting to homeschool I wake up with a purpose and goals that need to be accomplished each day. It is so nice to have a routine again!

What Our Day Looks Like

Each day has been similar but our schedule isn’t set in stone. We still get all work done but the order might differ from day to day. Our kitchen table has become our work area and the majority of our homeschool books are in several kitchen cupboards.

After breakfast we clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, wipe off the table and get ready for the day. When that is done we take the kids for a walk/bike ride around our neighborhood or if Josh is home the slackline has also been making an appearance.

Our school day starts anywhere between 8:15am-8:45am. I spend 45 minutes separately with each of the older two kids on Math. While I am working with one child the other is playing with the three year olds.

After Math I get each child’s ELA lessons done. This includes spelling, phonics, reading, sight words, and grammar. It depends on the day how much time this takes but it can be anywhere from 30-45 minutes per kid. While I am working with one kiddo the other is listening to stories on their tablet or reading.

With the older two kids math and english lessons done I work with our three year olds on their lesson. This last between 20-30 minutes and takes us right up to lunch at 11:30am.

When lunch is done the kitchen is all kinds of messy and we do a very quick clean up and take everyone out for a swim before naps. At 1pm the three year olds are asleep and if Josh is home he is too ;). While I clean up the rest of the kitchen our older two kids listen to books on Hoopla or play ABC Mouse.

Once the kitchen is back in order, usually around 1:15pm, the older kids are back at the table to do their combined lesson in Science/Geography/History. Each day looks a little different depending on what lessons we are doing.

At 2pm Caden gets on FaceTime with my mom. They are reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe together. Win/win on this all they way around. My goal is to celebrate in a fun way each chapter book we read this year if possible. Turkish delight seemed liked the perfect treat for this book after Caden read about Edmund gorging on it during his visit with the Queen in Chapter 4. They get time together and I am able to work separately on anything I need to with Maisie.

After Caden is done reading and while everyone else is napping we complete the second worksheet for Math, review any spelling words, phonograms, and sight words. Nap time is over at 3pm and all our school work is usually complete.

And that is our typical homeschool day. I also read out of chapter books to our older two at bedtime. I will share what books we have read so far in another post.

Do I Like The Curriculum?

I really love the Saxon Math curriculum. I was worried about how I was going to incorporate the calendar into our day and it is in the actual Math lessons. So easy. Everything is laid out for me to say. Our oldest is in Math 3, the same Math he would have been in this year at school. Our kindergartener is doing so well with Math 1.

We are using the Journeys curriculum and I am supplementing with additional worksheets from Teachers Pay Teachers. I love TPT. It is my new favorite website and I am so thankful for all the wonderful supplemental resources I have found.

I honestly had second thoughts when we started the Science curriculum from Sonlight. First it came with a DVD. We don’t own a DVD player anymore so I had to figure that out and get an external one for my computer. And the actual media looked so dated. My kids however absolutely adore it, and they love doing the science experiments that go with the lessons.

The Story of the World is fantastic! I love it just as much as the kids. We have learned about the Nomads, upper and lower Egypt, and created cave paintings in addition to making a model of the Nile River. Our first week we completed a family history project and the kids called their grandparents and great grandparents and interviewed them.

We are also making Interactive Notebooks to highlight what they are learning throughout the year. This is super cheap and easy. Just grab a notebook and some glue. There are many free printouts on the internet to help you make these notebooks extra special.

Overall I am pleased with what I decided to purchase. My initial thought had been to buy a bulk curriculum but I wasn’t sure how we would afford that. In case you are curious if you buy an entire years worth of curriculum from a homeschool publisher you could spend close to $800 per child. We spent that for all our kids with buying used text books (when we could) and also piecing our curriculum together.

You can read more about the curriculum our family is using by clicking HERE.

What My Lesson Plan Calendar Looks Like

I bought the Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner and at the time I was unsure if I should buy it. I can now say it was worth the money. Each month has helpful tips and tricks to manage your household and homeschool schedule.

When the calendar arrived I had grand plans of writing every lesson down for the the entire year. Well after reading the first few pages of the planner one of the major bullet points was “Don’t plan to far ahead”. Basically life happens and you don’t want to be erasing 180 lessons out of the journal when you get sick.

So I took that tip to heart and only wrote out the first week of lessons. I am so glad I did because I got food poisoning on the third evening into homeschooling. Thankfully I was able to switch things up for the next week and we filled in the gaps for the day we missed due to my illness.

We are working a Monday-Thursday homeschool schedule. It is easy to use Friday to complete anything that still needs to be done or have an extra day to our weekend. Here is what the inside looks like…

On the weekends I have been prepping any worksheets and printing anything we will need for the upcoming week. I have separate folders for each child with any printouts they will need to complete their work for the week.

The last three weeks have been great but I don’t want to give the impression that everything is sunshine and roses over here because there are still meltdowns and temper tantrums ;). We are fortunate to be able to have the choice to educate our kids this way during the pandemic.

Hopefully that gave a little insight into what our homeschool days are looking like currently. Thanks for reading!

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We Are HOMESCHOOLING!

Well today is the day! This week our kids would have been going back to school and today we are starting our first day of homeschool. What is really crazy is that Josh and I started talking about this being a possible option for our family in March. It is mind blowing that we are here at this point in Arizona. But here we are, homeschool affidavit submitted, and we are ready to make the best of this situation.

Let me first start by saying we love our schools. We are sadden that this is happening. But if our schools were open at this point we wouldn’t be sending them for in person learning because of how rampant COVID is in our community. Also we wouldn’t send them because Josh’s job brings him in contact with COVID positive patients and there is also COVID positive firefighters on the department. We could not in good faith send our kids to school in person with the potential that they could be asymptomatic carriers.

We are so thankful that there are school options available to families. Every family situation is different. For us, with the ages of our kids, we just really weren’t sure how I could effectively monitor two kids on computers as well as our little boys for 5-6 hours each day. And all these factors plus others had us more and more leaning towards homeschooling.

In May I started looking at so many different curriculum programs. So many. And there were multiple options that we liked. In the end we opted to stick close to what our school district uses. We felt this would be best if we wanted to transition back to in person learning in 2021.

So fast forward to June when I still thought we “might” homeschool I went to our schools website and printed off every weekly newsletter, spelling list, and reading list I could find for kindergarten and 2nd grade. This gave me a great outline for our year and also a benchmark for what our kids would have been learning each week in their school.

The end of June we buckled down and finally decided this is what we were going to do. I ordered all our curriculum and waited for it to arrive. Not going to lie when the boxes started showing up my first thought was “What the heck am I doing?”. The picture below is just a fraction of what arrived in our boxes.

If you are curious to know what curriculum we are using here it is. We are using the Journey’s series for reading comprehension/grammar, Spalding for phonics, Saxon Math (this was the biggest expense), Sonlight Science Kit A, and The Story of The World for geography/history for our main curriculum.

Our children’s elementary school uses Core Knowledge. The Core Knowledge Sequence is a detailed outline of recommended content knowledge and skills to be taught in language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, mathematics, and science from preschool through grade eight. I purchased these books in the corresponding grades of my kids to help me stay close to what the curriculum is at the school.

Thankfully I have found many resources online that will go with our homeschool curriculum. If you are looking to supplement remote learning or leaning the homeschool route be sure to check out teacherspayteachers.com.

In addition to these we are also going to be using Long Story Short and New City Catechism to start our day. We have done the companion book to Long Story Short, Old Story New and highly recommend it. They are great 10 minute devotionals with scripture reading and questions.

We are going to doing lots of read aloud books too! I have a list that continues to grow by the week. Not sure how many we will get through but we have lots of options. I have purchased all our read aloud book used through AbeBooks.

For our 3 year olds I purchased the Horizons curriculum package. We love our preschool so much and are hopeful the boys will be able to attend maybe later next year.

The plan as of right now is to do geography/history/bible all together in the morning after breakfast. Then I will work with the kids individually on their math and english. After lunch while the three year olds are napping we will do the extra math page from Saxon, science, and any other worksheet we didn’t finish in the morning.

Obviously none of this is set in stone and my lesson plans are only written out for the first week, because I might need to change this up a few times before we figure out a good routine and system. I am super excited but also nervous. I know that I am so fortune to be able to stay home with my kids and homeschool them.

Whatever situation you are finding yourself in with school options this year just remember that you know your child(ren) best. You know what is the best choice for your family. Obviously some communities won’t have an option when it comes to remote learning. But we all have the choice to make the best of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Just know you aren’t alone and our attitude greatly sets the tone for our households. You got this mama’s. This year won’t be easy but we can do it.

Know I am rooting for you all! Take a deep breath mama’s, keep your heads high, and look for the good each day :).

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