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)
Peace and blessings to you all.