So. Hello! Things have been really rather quiet over here in blogland, with many factors being the culprit. My half-marathon training is almost finished as I run the race next Sunday! I’ve found it takes up most of my mornings and leaves me without much time or energy to fit any writing into the schedule, but while I’m looking forward to the race, I’m looking forward even more to having my mornings back to do more reading and writing.
We are coming up on some pretty big changes in our family with us making a move across the city to be closer to The Man’s work. This means we’ll be changing communities, churches and homeschool groups. It’s a bittersweet change, but something we always knew would come. So we are spending the month of May wrapping up our studies, then diving headlong into packing up our home and preparing to move.
Now that we are nearly finished our 7th year of homeschooling, and our first year with 2 more independent students, I think I’ve finally figured out a good routine for this season of our lives (and yes, by September, it’s likely that will change all over again! That’s just the way it is :D).
So here’s a little bit of What’s Working and What We Need to Work On In Our Homeschool:
1. Reading aloud in the MORNING
We always jumped right from breakfast to bookwork, leaving read aloud time for the afternoons. Well, naptime for Miss E would roll around and I’d be so exhausted from the day’s activities that I’d delay and stall and yes, waste time on Facebook, to the point where we’d run out of time for reading aloud. Every time I was disappointed, so I decided to change it.
Now, after breakfast we read from our Apologia science curriculum, do a little narrating, and then read a chapter or two from our current read aloud book. That way if the boys get a few free moments during the school day, they can work on a notebooking page for science because we’ve already done the lesson. Score 1 for the team!
2. Bringing Back Stick Figuring Through the Bible
I’ve been realizing that Keekers, being the third child, doesn’t know or understand nearly as much as the boys did at her age about the Bible. I think since her brothers are so quick on the draw, she just sits back and lets them answer, though we try to get her involved as well.
Two things we’re doing on this front – 1) is going back to reading through the New Testament as a family, and 2) bringing back our stick figuring through the Bible with Grapevine Studies. Even Miss E gets in on the action with the traceable pages!
This is our favourite way to learn bible stories and get more indepth into the passages of Scripture we know so well, but still miss out on the details. (Get 20% off the new Moses study with code MOSESNEWS and 20% off any study with code AprilBlog – only until April 30th!)
3. An Actual Reading Curriculum
For a few years I was just fudging my way through literature with the boys, making up my own reading lists and using novel studies to dig deeper. But now, with 2 full time students and another on the cusp, I needed something with structure, depth and interest. We turned to Heart of Dakota’s Drawn into the Heart of Reading and haven’t looked back! It’s phenomenal, a really comprehensive reading curriculum that explores different genres of writing (Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure, etc.) and incorporates a lot of character building, thought provoking questions and activities. We love it!
4. Chores. Finally!
We’ve spent a good few years training our kids how to do different house chores. It’s WORK man! But it’s worth it and I’m glad we have the flexibility with homeschooling to be able to teach them these important skills. We are now at the point where they handle the majority of the chore jobs around the house on a weekly basis (dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, laundry, etc.), and need only a little feedback on missed areas. They’re learning invaluable skills for life and this mama is truly grateful for their contributions, because I certainly could not keep up without their help.
5. Kindergarten for Keekers
Keekers, our 6 year old, is the first child I’ve “held back” on. As in, I haven’t pushed her ahead to learn faster or sooner as I did with the boys. I’ve learned a lot in 7 years, and I’m grateful for it! I’ve let her come into her own style, her own abilities, and have been so pleased to see her flourish! She’s beginning to read more and more difficult books and stories, and is pretty quick with math. We DO need to work on her involvement in some of our other subjects, but we’ll also by cycling back through them with her anyway, so I’m not too concerned.
What We Need to Work On
1. Meal Planning
This is one tough beast to tame. I keep trying and keep getting overwhelmed and falling off the wagon. But it must be done, or else I am thinking too much about what we’re going to be eating (or not) and not using my time efficiently.
I have an idea to involve the kids on this one, especially with the grocery shopping and learning navigating the store looking for items, etc. but have yet to implement it. (I’m also open to suggestions! Anyone able to help a girl out? :0)
2. School Schedules
Yes. I love schedules! I just don’t like writing them out. But when we do it, it makes our days flow so much better. However, I’ve found with young ones involved in our homeschooling, we’re constantly changing what we’re doing – and that’s ok! So sometimes it is just winging it, but I do need to get written down a good, core schedule for the boys to follow if I’m busy with the girls.
3. Five in a Row Activities
Sigh. I just can’t win on this one. We really truly love it when we do our Five in a Row book studies, but I need to get more diligent with planning these out over two weeks BEFORE we get to Monday. I can make all the excuses in the world, but the fact remains that I’m just plain lazy about it. So we’ll try again in May to get a couple more done before school is out! It really is so enjoyable and worth doing.
4. Physical Activity
Winter was long and harsh. Spring has been cold and wet. Summer will be hot and gross. Fall – well, fall is PERFECT weather for getting outside, but hello?! We’re trying to homeschool here!
Getting in physical activity has been an ongoing challenge – even with swimming in the spring and summer, skiing in the winter and gym with our co-op throughout, it’s not enough. So we’re working on getting out on bikes more, and mom has to get more diligent with scheduling in time for fitness at home, even if it’s just 20 minutes in the basement.
What do you do to get kids active?
What’s working for you in your daily routine? I’d love to hear!
Check out what our iHomeschool Network moms have to say on what they are loving and not liking so much about homeschooling.