I've been meaning to write a post about this topic for a while now, so here it finally goes :)
Earlier this fall we started some formal home school. I'd like to think that our home is always a school, so it seems a little silly to talk about when we "started", but there's not really another good way to put it. Still, some days I wonder who learns more at our house - Luke learning to clap his hands? John Paul learning to use his sippy cup for the first time? Isaac learning that if you throw a football enough times it will eventually land on one of Mom's lamps? Lydia learning to cut banana chunks for Luke? Julianna learning how to quadruple a pancake recipe?
And all this happens outside of anything I would label "home school" - see what I mean!! Yet there is this aspect of formal education, some of which is supported by the rest of home life but some of which needs intentionality.
So we started. Reading. Writing. Math. And then later in the fall added history.
For reading the plan is simple. Read, read, read. I recorded our read-alouds and we did 19 chapter books this fall :) Pretty obvious that's our favorite part, huh? If you are faithful with just 20-30 minutes a day you can cover some serious territory! And many days we read far more than that.
[The pictures are from their book reports. They each choose a book to write about, illustrated a cover for their report, did a first draft of their report, and then a final copy. We did a lot of correcting the drafts and it was a fun project. Lydia chose The Wheel on the School and Julianna chose The Courage of Sarah Noble. Even Isaac joined in and did a cover sheet for his non-existent report.]
We also try to do some sort of reading practice (me listening to the girls read) daily. They sit and read to me. Easy peasy. Practice makes perfect.
With writing I was less faithful. We could do a bit more handwriting practice :) I can already see how my personal preferences influence our little school. I figure they'll eventually learn a nice fancy lowercase 'q', so we don't need to panic about it now. Plus, the ability to write a nice lowercase 'q' hasn't really taken me places, know what I mean?
Still, we do some writing, ideally every day. When we visited the fire station we wrote a report on what we saw. We wrote thank you notes and get well cards. We wrote Bible verses. We wrote spelling lists. We wrote about favorite gifts and made a timeline and recorded observations as we watched our potato grow. But our writing ..... it's not an organized effort - yet ;)
For Math I chose and ordered Singapore Math workbooks and so far I've been really pleased. I've never used another math curriculum and I'm sure there are other great options, but I do like Singapore. I supplement with some extra worksheets and such that I print off the internet to just get some extra practice at being fast and accurate with basic math facts!
A month ago we added Story of the World as a history curriculum. While no curriculum is perfect, I must say I am very very pleased with Story of the World. It is so read-able, so engaging. We are reading Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor.
Their time at Chinese school is a big bonus. Just great great stuff. Plus it all happens in language #2 which boosts their Chinese skills.
In the spring I hope to add some spelling (whew - this needs some work!) and handwriting (those pesky 'q's....).
Yesterday was the big "Last Day". Last day of Chinese school. Last day of home school. Last day of dance class. We celebrated with M&M blondies and the kids presented their book reports to Matt and John Paul.
I'm very pleased with our "wade in from the riverbank" approach to the fast-flowing, mammoth, (often intimidating) Home School River. With a newly adopted toddler and a baby who struggles to sleep it was perfect for this fall, for this family.
I love all the things I thought I was going to love about home schooling. I learned a ton about how we operate best and dreamed big about what we might do when we move and have more space to set up a home school area in a new apartment. (We currently operate at the kitchen table out of a small rubbermaid box!)
We've got a lot to learn. I've got a lot more mistakes to make. And so do they. But we're enjoying it, this learning together.
Like Matt told fidgety John Paul tonight: "Sit still one minute and listen, with your spot in the family you've got a lot of book report presentations ahead of you...."