These past six weeks we have really jumped head first into homeschool. I mean, we did it last year, for preschool, but it was a much slower pace– 3 days a week for about 30 minutes of structured education each day was all it took for her to practice her letters, numbers, colors, shapes, and basic math.
This year, we started our school year on August 18th, coincidentally, the day she turned 5 1/2. We started with 4 days of 2 hours of structured education each day. Fridays are our free day, we use it to ride bikes to the library or catch up on any work if we happened to fall behind. So far this schedule is working out great, and it seems to be just the right amount of time for her. I have let her take the lead, meaning if/when I see she is getting burned out on whatever subject she is working on, I’ll have her finish the page and then we switch lessons. Or take a dance break.
This website from the Utah Education Network has been priceless– free lesson plans, complete with printable PDFs for every lesson plan, and if that’s not enough, library book recommendations that coincide with each lesson. I have also started teaching a little Spanish each day, and for a break between subjects I will let her play a few of these Curious George (or, if you prefer, Jorge el Curioso) games (click on the box at the top right that says “juegos” or, “games” to see all the options). They are pretty easy for her, but it also gives her the opportunity to incorporate computer skills.
I also love the Kumon books, for both girls. And speaking of which, on occasion, little P can be a distraction. She just turned 3, so sitting still for more than 10 minutes at a time is a foreign concept, and she can get into Destructo Mode. If I have already given her her favorite Maze book, her coloring pages, puzzles, and her flash cards, I sometimes put on a LeapFrog video for her. The songs are so catchy, making it easy to remember certain rules about letters and, eventually, sounding out words (“We’re A-E-I-O-U, we’re the vowels, we’re the glue– to stick the words together, we’re very sticky letters…”). Look them up, they’re great– and some of them are on NetFlix!
We have put forth a lot of effort to make every day activities into a learning experience. For instance, she love love loves baking and talks all the time about how she wants to have a bakery/ice cream shop (and I will apparently own and operate the flower shop that will be next door, according to her, ha!). So we took a free tour of a nearby bakery, where they took us into the back and let us see their equipment and the different stages of baking for their bread and pastries. They let the kids feel the different types of flour and even mold their own loaf of challah bread, providing raisins, dried cranberries, and white and milk chocolate chips. They baked it for us and we picked it up later that afternoon. (my doll, her butterfly)
We have integrated baking into our weekly activities, making cookies, cake, and most recently, tortillas. (THIS RECIPE. You’re welcome.) My tummy has been happy… my abs, not so much. But it’s important to both of us to make this experience enjoyable, because hey! it gets tough at times, for both of us.
We have her enrolled in dance, gymnastics, and a theater program where she has a class once a week for an hour with other homeschoolers her age. These activities are a great opportunity for her to take direction from an adult that isn’t me and interact with other kids– wait, she’s not always going to be the center of attention?? awesome.
I always think to myself that we are taking it a day at a time, a season at a time, and if it seems that she is struggling or getting frustrated with me or not making the progress she should be, we can always try public school. For now, all of this is working well for us, and hopefully some of these resources will come in handy for some of you, too!