Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A New Homeschooling Year

We're now a couple of weeks into homeschooling for the year, and I think we're well on our way to finding our groove.  We've made some changes this year, to keep up with our growing family, and I'm a little bittersweet about it.  While I still remain convinced that "unschooling" is the best fit for our family as a whole, I have added in a bit more formal school time for the older kids.  And I switched our school time to the morning, since it became very clear that doing it in the afternoons just wasn't working.  We started out doing our school time right after breakfast and chores, but I found that the kids were restless, since they just wanted to go play.  So now we are doing it right before lunch, after they have played and cleaned up.  This has helped them be able to focus a lot better, since they have already had a chance to play.  We're currently spending about 45 minutes on our school projects, and that has been a good compromise for us.  The one thing I'm still trying to figure out is our Morning Time.  We were doing this right before lunch, but now this is our school time, and anyway, it wasn't working for Simon, and therefore it wasn't working for any of us!  I've been experimenting with doing this during breakfast, and that works about half of the time, and I'm just going to keep going with that for now.  Maybe it would help to do a little more breakfast prep the night before?  I'll have to think about that.

Benjamin and Joanna were having some trouble writing a
letter correctly, so I brought out some pans of flour for them
to practice with their finger.  It worked great for them, but
everyone else had to get in on the action, and I'm not sure
I'll be doing that again in a hurry! =)

Here's what we're doing this year:

Since Benjamin is in 2nd grade this year, we decided it was probably a good time for him to start doing some more formal math, and learning how to read problems and write answers.  I really went back and forth on this for a while, because I'm not really a fan of workbooks in general, but he started asking me to make him math sheets to fill out, so I decided to take advantage of that interest.  After looking at several options, I went with ABeka Arithmetic 1.  Although he's in 2nd grade, I started with the first grade book because I knew there were probably some concepts he hadn't learned yet.  Most of it has been really easy for him so far, but he has learned a couple of new things, and I think the ease has helped make it a good transition.

I'm continuing to use Life of Fred for both Benjamin and Joanna, and Ezra often listens in, too.  We never finished the first book last year, so I started that over, and we will continue on to the second book once we're finished with that.

We're continuing to use Bedtime Math during our morning time, and I really can't recommend these books enough.  All of the kids love it, they constantly ask for more difficult problems, and their math skills have greatly improved.

Benjamin is really a great reader and can read most things.  He does a lot of reading on his own, so I don't make him do a formal reading time, though I should probably have him read to me occasionally to make sure he is sounding out the bigger words.  He prefers reading nonfiction, so I don't use any specific books with him, but instead make sure to regularly get books from the library that he is interested in.

Benjamin is such a great unschooler!  He loves to study on
his own.  I picked up a United States encyclopedia from the
library, and he decided to make his own map of the U.S.

I never finished Joanna's reading lessons last year, so we're continuing that this year, and we had to go back and do a little bit of a refresher.  We're still using Alphaphonics, and I'm still really happy with it.

Since Ezra is in Kindergarten this year, I've started working with him on learning the alphabet, but I haven't pushed it much, since he only just turned five.

We're spending a bit more time focusing on writing this year, especially on forming letters correctly, and using more lowercase letters.  We're not using any curriculum, but instead just practicing them in a spiral notebook.  All five of the kids have a spiral notebook to use during school time, and we use it for any sort of writing or drawing that we do.  Not only does it keep everything in one place, it serves as a good record for what we learned during the year.

Morning Time during breakfast

Our Morning Time Basket

Morning Time:
This remains pretty much the same as last year; we read a story or two, do our calendar, do Bedtime Math, read a poem, talk about something of interest, etc.  I have a science book that I've been reading through lately, which is often turns into a short discussion.  This is one of my favorite parts of our school day, so I'm hoping to find a good routine with this again.

And that's about it for our formal schooling!  I'm still trying to keep everything relaxed and simple, so I'm happy with making sure the three Rs are covered and learning everything else through living life. We still love watching Magic School Bus and What's in the Bible?, and we added in a Schoolhouse Rock DVD to our collection, and the kids have been learning a lot through that.  I love to read aloud, and we continue to read chapter books during lunch, and they still often listen to Story of the World while I'm preparing lunch.  We listened to the first book twice last year, so this year we're listening to the second book.  They have been really interested in American history as well, so we often have discussions about topics related to that, or pick up books from the library to read.  The four older kids are involved in AWANA this year, and we also are continuing our homeschool co-op that we started several months ago.  The homeschool group that we joined offers several family sports at different times of the year, so right now we all go play soccer on Monday nights.

That's all I can think of for now!  I've had mixed feelings about doing some of these more "formal" things, but overall I think we have a good mix of formal and relaxed schooling going on, so we're going to keep it up for now!


PUPPPsMom said...

Would you know it? I have written TWO comments for this post and accidentally deleted BOTH!

Thanks for sharing your new routine! It's always fun to hear what other moms are doing. I love that you embrace the freedom to change things up to suit your needs. That is a major perk to homeschooling!

Annaleah said...

Oh, I hate that!!
As fate would have it, today we had one of those days when nothing seemed to work, but like you said, we have the flexibility to make things suit our needs, so yay for that! :)