Head over to our Instagram to enter our early literacy giveaway featuring items from some of our favorite homeschool accounts! Ends Thursday, September 17th.
Suzanne here, co-owner of THL. I'm excited to share this post with you! I'll talk about my family's (hopefully brief, hah!) experience with homeschooling. Then, my good friend and homeschooler-extraordinaire Bobbye will answer some questions about her journey with homeschooling.
Virtual learning did not work for our family-- not for me, and not for the kids. When we learned that our school district would be doing virtual learning until October, and when the details of what that would look like started emerging, we had a decision to make.
I never thought I would homeschool my kids, but that's what we decided to do for the time being. We made the decision as a family. The kids absolutely want to and will go back when their school re-opens, but until that time, we un-enrolled them and are homeschooling.
We started at the beginning of August, and since then have homeschooled most days. If we have a crazy day at THL, we skip it. We started early to give us flexibility (the thing our family needs that distance learning couldn't provide). Overall, it's been a really positive and enjoyable experience. Our biggest hurdle has been the toddler, hah! She so wants to be the center of attention right now, so she struggles when I'm teaching the older kiddos.
I of course felt very overwhelmed when it came to picking curriculums. Luckily, one of my dearest friends Bobbye is a homeschooler and gave me excellent advice. She shares her homeschooling journey on her instagram account and it is an inspiring place to start.
I'm not going to do a deep dive into our homeschooling day because we've only been doing it for month and a half, so I am far from an expert. I did want to share a handful of products and curriculums that have been really helpful to us:
1. Singapore Math: I'm a former math teacher, and I need my kids to be ready to jump back in to public school when the time came, so I wanted a curriculum that was robust. I've been impressed with this curriculum for both my kiddos. It introduces concepts with manipulatives, and also focuses on mental math skills.
2. River of Voices: This is our history curriculum and it's been so much fun! It covers early US history, but specifically focuses on including perspectives from native and african populations. I love how we can incorporate reading and writing into our history lessons.
3. Get a globe! Whether you're homeschooling or not, I strongly recommend adding a globe to your home (we have this one-- no complaints!). Every place we mention in our history lesson we find on a globe-- my kiddos can show you where a lot of countries are and I'm pretty proud of that.
4. We love our Learning Resources Hundreds Board. We've had ours for years (I actually included it in my numeracy blog post I did a long time ago) and we use it on a regular basis. Learning Resources has other great math products (we have the place value discs, snap cubes, and place value blocks).
So, those are a few of my favorite homeschooling things, from my very brief experience. Our family's life was never designed for homeschooling, so it definitely isn't perfect for us. I've asked my friend Bobbye to write a bit about her extensive experience, and I hope it provides you some inspiration if you feel called to try it out!
So without further ado, Bobbye from Wildwood Learning....
Q: Why did you decided to homeschool?
Bobbye: Prior to our daughter’s kindergarten year my husband and I felt that none of the options available to us would be academically rigorous enough to prepare her for first grade. Ironically, through homeschooling her and getting to really know her academically I’ve leaned into a very gentle beginning to learning for her that extends her childhood while laying a firm academic foundation. So, basically, the school we’ve created together wouldn’t measure up to my previous naïve but well-intentioned standards.
Q: Wasn’t it overwhelming getting started? How did you decide where to begin?
Bobbye: Well, I’m anxious and analytical by nature so, YES. I vacillated between the weight of taking the responsibility of my daughter’s academic aptitude and success into my own hands and also how to even go about doing it. I began by researching the main styles or methods of homeschooling and evaluating which would best be suited for my daughter and our family. “The Call of the Wild and Free” is a very uplifting and easy read that breaks this all down really well and will leave you feeling inspired instead of overwhelmed. I also highly recommend reaching out to a friend or acquaintance whom you admire and who has been home schooling a good while to gain honest and practical advice.
Q: How old are your children and what grades are they in?
Bobbye: My daughter Nora is 6. In a traditional school environment she’d be entering first grade. We are gently transitioning to first grade by doing a bit of kindergarten and first this year. Next year she will begin what is called Year 1 in the Charlotte Mason Method.
Q: Where do you homeschool? Do you have a classroom in your house?
Bobbye: My little mid-century home barely has adequate closet space so an entire school room is just not an option. We do school most often at our kitchen table but we’ve also been known to load up our camper and take school on the road! We love National Parks and National Forests.
Q: Is there a certain method of homeschool you follow?
Bobbye: Yes, our homeschool is heavily inspired by the writings of Charlotte Mason. We spend a lot of time reading classic children’s books and even more time in nature.
Q: What curriculum do you use?
Bobbye: Our main curriculum this year is A Year of Tales which is a whimsical collection of learning activities and handicrafts based upon the works of Beatrix Potter. We incorporate many things into our homeschool but this is the one thing which links them all together this year.
Q: What things have you been reaching for the most often in lessons lately?
Bobbye: I’m obsessed with Rooted Childhood’s monthly guides so much that I’ve become a brand affiliate I recommend them to everyone for an easy grab and go guide to be a Pinterest mom even when you’re not feeling particularly Pinterest-y. We also reach almost daily for our Grapat mandala sets; especially for math. We recently finished our first set of BOB books and have fallen completely in love with Dash Into Learning’s beautiful Early Readers.
Q: Describe a typical homeschool day for you?
Bobbye: Our day follows rhythm which always begins with a tremendous amount of coffee for me. We read from the Bible and work on poetry memorization before beginning our day. We alternate between activities which require a lot of work for my daughter and those which are more relaxed. Our school day typically lasts about 4 hours leaving lots of time for play or crafts in the afternoon.
Q: What is your favorite part of homeschooling?
Bobbye: The pride I feel seeing her learn something new. But on a practical level: reading books together. We enjoy a weekly tea time where we talk about what we’ve read, read poetry, and celebrate her work for the week. It’s a bit like a tiny artists salon.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
Bobbye: Choosing which resources to use. My preconceived notion was that my choices in curriculum would be very limited and nothing could be farther from the truth. I find I have many more options available to me as a homeschool mom than I did as a public school teacher.
Q: Do you worry about socialization?
Bobbye: I worry I’ll lack the stamina to keep up with my very sociable and outgoing child. Truly I think she’s provided much more socialization to me than I ever could to her! That being said, plugging into community is so important in all areas of life and that includes homeschool. We love our local Wild and Free group and are also plugged into many extracurricular activities – well, as many of them as we can in a pandemic.
Q: Will you ever enroll your kids in public or private school?
Bobbye: I’d love to say no because selfishly I love teaching my daughter and learning alongside her but our decisions about her education are rooted in honoring her as an individual so as she grows and changes what is best for her could grow and change, too.
Q: What is your best tip to a mom homeschooling in a pandemic?
Bobbye: Give yourself a whole lot of grace and coffee. No one is better at loving and caring for your child than you – you’re doing a great job!
Thank you Bobbye for taking the time to share with us! Now everyone, head over to our Instagram to enter our early literacy giveaway featuring items from some of our favorite homeschool accounts! Ends Thursday, September 17th.