Hey Friends! In good ‘ole Philadelphia fashion, our oldest daughter started Pre-school this past week. Georgia kids go back to school the first week of August which is way too early for me so we decided to hold off our official first day of school until last week (when all of my Philly friends started back school). I will preface this post by saying I never intended to home school my kids. However, Eowyn (our oldest daughter) missed the cut off to attend public Preschool this fall and while we love our neighborhood, we live in a horrible school district. I will say, I realize that even having the ability to choose what kind of education your kids get is privilege at it’s finest. I completely get that some parents don’t have the financial ability to home school and need the free child care that school offers. We have only recently entered into a season where we have the flexibility of time and money to add in homeschooling. Fred has a non traditional work schedule working in Law enforcement and I have a very flexible schedule from owning my own business and a part time job in addition to that that offers flexible scheduling. Homeschooling is definitely not for everyone and I have no idea how long we will even do it, but for this season of life, this is the best choice for our family given the unique circumstances. So with that being said, I’m going to share a little bit of what we are doing with our homeschooling this year and how we started this whole process. Also- Eowyn on her first day of preschool said she wanted to be a dancer and a pastor so I asked her to be a little more specific so nobody got the wrong idea about what kind of dancer. LOL. She was so excited to get to do school with mommy it made my heart melt.
- I first made a list or brain dump of what my educational values/goals are. Mine included the following: Hands on learning, life experience, to be cultured/well traveled/well read, to have a diverse group of friends, to build confidence and courage, to gain a healthy sense of self and self worth, to learn kindness and empathy, to be creative thinkers/independent thinkers/visionaries, and to have a rich and enjoyable education experience.
- I also watched this video which does a great job at explaining the different home school methods. I was really drawn to Unit Studies and the Charlotte Mason Method so my planning included both of these methods (in a way that would be accessible to a four year old). This blog also has tons of great resources if you decide to go with the Charlotte Mason Approach.
- The next thing I did was write down all the topics I wanted to cover through out the year. The major topics were Culture, Art, Nature, Reading, and Life skills. Under each topic I wrote down more specific “sub-topics” if you will so I knew what kind of things to include in my week to week planning. For example, under my culture topic I wrote “get to know people from different cultures, explore their own cultures and backgrounds, study the globe, learn to say different country names, read books from and about different cultures, cook different cultural foods, learn about animals from different countries.” I repeated this process with each of my major topics. Under each of the topics, I found ways to weave in the traditional preschool elements like colors, shapes, numbers, languages etc.
- The last thing I did was use all of the information collected and start to plan out week by week lesson plans. I **hate** unstructured, it makes me cringe and kids thrive off of structure so it was crucial for me to do some amount of pre-planning. I also work which meant I needed to be able to flip open my notebook and see exactly what I’m supposed to be teaching that week. I thought about buying curriculum and am still thinking about buying this but in the meantime, I just created my own rough road map for the next few months ahead. For each week, I wrote down the letter of the week, the weekly theme, weekly goals and a list of activities that have to do with the weekly theme. Yes, I love structure but I also need some amount of flexibility since a lot of learning will either be done at our store between customers or at home before or after work. With weekly activities, I can move through them at my own pace and do them as time allows. With weekly goals, I can quickly see a visual reminder of things like “Read for thirty minutes each day” and things like that.
- I still left some of the weekly activities and goals blank and will fill them in at the beginning of each month. I also included a weekly kindness activity to keep them focused on giving back and to realize the importance of kindness. Eowyn even helped me pick some of the activities we will do. As for art each week, I have pulled a lot of my ideas from the Meri Cherry Blog .I love her approach with process art and cultivating a spirit of creativity in my kids is definitely important to me. We also do a journal where Eowyn can keep some of her favorite stickers and drawings in as well as practice her colors. As she gets older, this will also be a space to practice writing and identifying her emotions. Lastly, I also got some great work books from the dollar tree and amazon that we will keep at the shop for Eowyn to work on when I need space or get busy.
A little sneak peak of our schooling space at the moment. It is a work in progress but I love how this room is flooded with natural light. We will also have set up at the store so she can do school while I work. Also, dollar tree school supplies for the win!
And that’s a wrap for now! Up next I’ll be sharing some of my favorite homeschool resources and books. I am definitely not a very academic person so the thought of homeschooling was pretty intimidating to me at first but I also recognized that while I may not be that “book smart” I do excel at creative thinking and independent ideas (and also…it’s Preschool!). I actually had a lot of fun creating our preschool ‘curriculum’ and am excited to get to spend this year exploring with Eowyn. I know that our educational plans will probably change and shift over the years, but for now we are just taking it one year at a time until the kids get old enough to express what they would like their schooling to look like. Thanks for reading along today and I’ll check back in later this fall to let you know how our crazy home school year is going! Stay fabulous my friends.