Our first month homeschooling kindergarten!

Soooo…our first homeschool year has begun this month. My oldest child is 5 years old, so she is officially a kindergartner. I also have my nearly 4-year-old daughter doing preschool and a 2-year-old. All of this while 9 months pregnant! I am less than 2 weeks from my “due date” and I have been experiencing a lot of prodromal labor (i.e very slow going early labor). Yet, here we are starting our “official” schooling journey.

This has been a learning experience for me too. I have not been as organized as I imagined I would be. We are basically unschooling, along with a general schedule and a list of the subjects we will cover each week. That said, I am really pleasantly surprised by how much my children have been learning in this more casual style of school. The girls are all very young yet, so I consider imaginative play and a lot of outdoor exploration to be just as important as workbooks and more traditional schoolwork.

Both my 5 year old and my preschooler have been doing math randomly, every day, without any prompting on my part. They will frequently take objects from the kitchen table, or toys from their bins, and then proudly explain to me how many they have left when some are taken away and how many more they have when some are added. I went over more traditional math lessons with them a few times, covering basic subtraction and addition, but now they are taking those lessons and using them during the day by themselves!

Another example is learning shapes. This is more of a review for my kindergartner, but I also added 3D shapes for her such as a cylinder and cube. We did some fun coloring workbook pages with shapes, read a book about shapes, and then we did some slightly complex puzzles with shapes. They had to find shapes that would fit into a pattern on a card they were given, for example they may have a butterfly shape and then need to find which shapes are needed to complete the picture. After we did this, they both come up to me constantly excited to show me a shape they found (my kindergartner told me the farmhouse had a cylinder, my preschooler told me the refrigerator was a rectangle, etc).

They are truly taking in whatever lessons we have and applying it during everyday life.
We take weekly trips to the library and bring back a haul of books. Reading is a big part of what we do, and that has always been the case. I started reading to my oldest when was 6 months old! I showed her baby picture books, and she has always loved reading. My middle child is extremely energy, so it took longer for her to be able to sit through books. I am happy to say that she is usually very good about sitting for reading now, especially when she can pick books out at the library herself that interest her.

We are also going over Spanish, which has been the hardest for me to teach. My husband is bilingual; his parents are from Colombia. He didn’t speak Spanish to them enough, and he was gone for some long periods due to illness. I am sad that they aren’t learning as native speakers, but they are all still so young that it is very possible for them to become fluent if we work on it now. I am teaching it to them through books, and making their own books with words and pictures. We are also using song and memory cards. When this baby is born my husband has promised to speak exclusively in Spanish to the baby, I think this will help our other children as well because they will hear the words on a daily basis in regular language. My mother in law will be coming to stay with us shortly after the baby is born, so she can also help with Spanish while she is here.

Our local homeschooling group (a loosely joined together county wide group) as been wonderful. Some of the mothers really do a lot to put together great activities for the children, such as a nature walk and nature craft that we just love! Even better, the state park this occurs at is only 10 minutes away! We just started this back up because the classes ended over the summer, due to the oppressive heat. They girls made beautiful nature looms, and my younger two children had a blast playing with moss. They also get the chance to run and play outside with other children, getting exercise and making friends.

In addition to this, all three girls are in dance class (yes even my 2 year old!). They love dance! We also took a trip to the museum of natural history last month, and we plan on taking big field trips at least every 3 months. This keeps things new and creative, while learning in new environments. I already have tickets for my oldest two children and I to attend our first children’s targeted ballet (Beauty and the Beast). The library often has activities they can do for free, and we have a YMCA membership which will be super important during the cold months when outside physical activity is more limited (although we WILL be in the snow).

So, this is just the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. It is not easy to be home all week with all the children, but I could never see myself sending them away for school 5 days a week for the majority of the day. It would be so different. We are forming strong bonds as a family, and I want the ability to keep our lives flexible and adapt to each of their needs. There is so much positive in this, it is worth the hard work! (Even 9 months pregnant)

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Peace and blessings to you all.

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37 weeks Unassisted Pregnancy

Well, here I am at (almost) 37 weeks pregnant. This is my second unassisted pregnancy but I transferred to the hospital with my first unassisted birth attempt (due to my own unfounded fears, we were fine!). A UP is when a woman receives no professional care during her pregnancy, with a OB or a midwife. This doesn’t mean that the pregnant woman does not take very good and diligent care of herself, often times we who make this choice pay far more attention to the details of our pregnancies and health than do women seeing traditional birth professionals.

I stopped seeing my OB practice around 18 weeks. I knew that I had zero interest in taking the tests they wanted me to take. I felt stressed and pressured after each appointment. Then, I realized that I was doing this to myself for no reason. Yes, I am pregnant but pregnancy is not an illness! I am healthy. I do not see a doctor on a regular basis when I am not ill, so why would I do that while pregnant? I went over all the painful memories of my first baby’s birth due to the cruel manner of my old OB. I thought back to my midwife hospital birth with my second baby and understood that although it was significantly better, I was still not given full control over my own body and had to fight to keep my baby with me after she was born. I thought about how I had never, ever been helped in any way, shape or form by any medical professional during any of my births or pregnancies! I realized how absurd it was for me to continue doing something for the fourth time that stressed me out and had never proven beneficial to my health or my baby’s health! I left and never made another appointment.

This is has been a time for to regain my power and voice. Pregnant women in American are treated like children who cannot make their own choices. We are told what we are “allowed” to do, and we are bullied and shamed into major medical decisions like c sections when we disagree or push back. They want us drugged up, numb, laying down and quiet. They want us to be “good” and obey their orders. They chastise us for not being happy our baby is healthy after we endure all manner of physical and emotional abuse in labor and birth. I, for one, have had it.

This pregnancy has been a time for learning how to trust myself and honor my body. I have paid attention to what my body needs in regards to food, rest, hydration, sex. I have chosen to believe that my body knows how to grow this baby and birth this baby. I have taken steps to connect to my body in a way that I never have before. As a survivor of sexual abuse and rape, it is incredibly freeing to connect to and honor my body as I grow this precious baby.

I have learned that many times you simply cannot please other people with your choices. I will be maligned and spoken badly of due to my choice to UP/UC (unassisted childbirth), but I will let it roll off my back. I have only told my husband and my mother, but I do not allow my mother to speak negatively about it to me. She can have her feelings about it, but I do not have to listen to it. After the baby is born and has been seen healthy for months, I might make my choice to UC public. I have really enjoyed connecting with other women over the internet who are making this same journey as I am.

Pregnancy is a spiritual time. I am connected to my child in a way that is unique; because pregnancy is unlike any other human experience. It is a creative time and a sensitive time. I am emotional, but not in that negative stereotypical way. Women are mocked for our emotions during this time, but it is good for the heart to open and grow and be shaped by deep empathy.

I think this baby will be born soon. I am ready to welcome him, and I am ready to wait for him in peace; either way. I am at peace.