What home education looks like in our house these days
Change this and give an example of a week and what I might do each day or the week. Keep it shorter and simpler.
Hee, hee. What home education looked like today is not exactly what it looks like most other days, so it feels like a rather funny thing to be writing about this afternoon.
But (oh, I'm sorry to all the grammar teachers out there, but sometimes I just can't help myself), isn't that one of the beautiful things about home educating? The ability to be flexible and allow learning to happen along the ebbs and flows of real life and changing seasons?
So, what have we really been up to these past couple of months?
This is something I have learned from my Mother-in-Law, and I am so glad for her insistence that we begin this wonderful practice! It's not something that I might have thought of on my own, at least not at this young of ages (my kids are currently 19 mths and just over 4 yrs). They love it, though! Sometimes, they play on the family room floor while I read, and sometimes they sit beside me on the couch, but they're always excited when I pull out the book for the day's reading!
The first book we began with was Paddington, and these are delightful stories about a very curious little bear from Peru, who ends up living with a family in London and gets himself into all sorts of trouble. We enjoyed this book, but what we have most enjoyed are the books that came next… the Little House on the Prairie series! We began with Little House in the Big Woods, and are about to finish On the Banks of Plum Creek any day (the 3rd book). Such fun!
We also read various children's books every day, from the silly to the serious, from board books to beautifully illustrated award winning tales. I can't even begin to guess how many books we have, but they are numerous, and well loved! Caden has recently grown especially fond of books, and will come up to me multiple times a day, book in hand, saying "Na! Na! Na!" which I loosely translate as "Mommy, I desperately need you to read this book to me immediately or I don't know what I will do with myself"!
We are continuing to use Big Truths for Little Kids, and are working on having Abbie memorize this children's version of the Shorter Catechism. She loves it and does so well with it!
We are also using the book My ABC Bible Verses, sometimes reading the story that goes along with the verse, and other times just practicing the verses to keep them fresh. I like the stories in this book, as they are a little bit shorter and more to the point than in Big Truths for Little Kids, and a bit more appropriate for preschool aged children.
We have been using the Little Jewel books, from Rod and Staff, to bring up a variety of character issues and discuss them together. We also sometimes use Teach Them to Your Children, which is a really great resource although some of the stories are just a bit above Abbie's level and she doesn't completely understand what they are about (many are just fine, though).
Learning to Read
At 4, Abbie has just begun to read simple words, after a little over a year spent on phonics and pre-reading skills. This fall we allowed her to borrow a phonics video (LeapFrog's Talking Words Factory) which really helped to cement the concept of letter sounds for her and inspired her to want to keep learning more! I have also allowed her to watch/interact with some of the ABC and phonics videos on Starfall.com from time to time, and these are also helping to further her understanding of how letter sounds make words.
To practice reading, we are using the Bob Books, a fun series of very short, very simple books that go from simple to more complex, and take less than 5 minutes to read. Because they are so short and simple, I read them with Abbie one word at a time (I read the word, and she repeats it or tries to read it on her own). Since the words are often used repeatedly, she can begin to recognize some of them on her own by the time we get closer to the end of the story and I let her read those ones independently.
Arts and Crafts
Oh, this is my major weakness! I am just not really into pulling all the stuff out, making a mess, coming up with ideas, etc. I am trying to make sure that we do something of this sort once a week, even if it's just painting or cutting and gluing. We were also given some paint markers for her birthday- I can't remember who they're from, but I would love to kiss whoever it was! She loves them and they make so little mess. Ahhh…
I've also begun to introduce Abbie to very simple sewing crafts, and she is really doing well with them! So far we have tried one felt puppet (it already had the holes in it and came with yarn and a large needle- she needed to just stitch it together, about 30 stitches, which she did beautifully!). The second project we are still working on, and is a bit more finicky. It's a mesh bug catcher, and it all needs to be stitched together, but it will only fit a large but real sewing needle, so she needs very careful supervision to do this one. The third thing was sewing a popcorn string, which she did really well with, although she tired of the project with the attention span of, well, a four year old!
We were so blessed to receive several Rod and Staff preschool workbooks, which we are diligently working our way through. These give Abbie a chance to practice her letter recognition and printing, as well as skills like sorting, matching, differentiating, cutting and pasting, tracing, etc. She always begs to do more than the 1 or 2 pages I usually suggest!
This is not something that we have worked on much recently, but will begin to work on more this winter and spring. Last year we did calendar time every day, which included counting the days in the month, and we also did some counting and patterning practice using colorful counting bears. Together with using math in our everyday activities (counting the stairs as we walked down them, counting cups of flour in baking), this rounded out the math that we felt she needed to learn at that age (3).
Now I have bought a math workbook, K-Gr.2 Cut and Paste Math. Of course, many of the activities are too advanced, but some are just perfect and will help her to match written numbers with pictures of objects (ie. match the 5 to the picture of 5 cars), learn some very simple addition and geometry (shapes, mostly) and also help her begin to learn to tell time, a skill I am eager to teach her! She can't wait to begin using this book, as well as two write-and-wipe counting and addition books she was given for Christmas by Grandma.
At this point, we are keeping science just a part of our everyday activities and not teaching it specifically. We read many books on nature and talk about things we see when we go out for walks and drives. Before our trip to Arizona, she and I spent a bit of time reading up on the desert, it's animals and also on cactus (cacti?). This winter we read about snowflakes as the snow began to fall, and last spring we read about all sorts of different insects, frogs, bees, etc.
This winter, we will be planting our own seedlings indoors once again, for our garden this spring. Abbie will be getting her very own portion of the garden this year, where she can plant her choice of vegetables and she will be responsible for weeding and watering (yes, it will be very small!). She was also given a beautiful pack of flower seeds for Christmas, and I will give her some space to plant those in our front yard garden as well. She is eager for spring to arrive!
How do I put it all together?
Well, at this point I am still somewhat of an eclectic home educating mama! I don't have a firm schedule that I stick to. Days when we have more time and inclination, we pull out more books and activities. Days when we're squeezed for time, we do the essentials (reading and Bible training) and I don't stress out about it. I just try to make sure that we work our way through all of the things that we are working on over the course of each week.
As we approach next year, I am planning to set aside some time to do some reading up on different styles of home educating, in order to help us better decide exactly how we want to go about this incredible task we have been given to train and teach our children! After that, I will likely become a bit more scheduled and purposeful in how I plan out each day's "learning time" as we fondly refer to it.
Love the read-alouds – we have launched a couple of book-lovers that way. Great family time, too. I also find simple observations work best for science – sit and watch a fish tank, a hummingbird, or an ant. It leads to many great places…