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2016 Homeschool update and goals

Our new school year begins. I have a 1st grader, 8th grader and a 10th grader now.

This is also the first year that I am not doing all the lessons in all subjects with all of my kids. I realized it wasn’t realistic of me or fair to them. My 10th grader is doing most of the schooling on her own. And only joining us for US History & Geography and Creative Culinary. The rest is through online resources.

My 1st grader is between grades. He is too old for Kindergarten work and not quite ready for 1st grade completely. So we are making it up as we go with him. But I am glad I waited to start formal schooling because now he is so excited to begin. That’s what I want. No one is happy if he is resisting and I am tearing my hair trying to get him to focus.

My 8th grader is the tricky one. She is physically of high school age, technically in 8th grade, but mentally between a 3rd-5th grade level, some days. Towards the end of last year, I notice she wasn’t getting what her sister was doing and was losing interest. She was starting to join more of my son’s activities. Even storytime, she would find some spot to sit so she could hear the story. As frustrating and disappointing as this is, I have resigned myself to it. I want her to grow, learn and be able to function on her own. And it may or may not happen. But for now, this is our reality. Our daughter is stuck as a 9-10 year old. So why would I stress myself and her out to learn things she obviously can’t comprehend.

So my goals for this year…

Have my 10th grader continue to earn credits towards her high school diploma and get a part-time job.

Have my middle daughter continue therapy and continue to work on basic concepts while incorporating them into real life situations. Give her plenty of social situations with children her own age. We have also considered an autism school, but have yet to really make a decision on that.

Have my youngest learn some life skills like tying his shoes and learning his phone number and physical address. Begin reading and build on the skills he has already learned.

Another goal is to simplify our homeschool schedule. From August until November, I had such a full calendar. There was field trips, art & park days, homeschool meeting days and book clubs. I am an introvert so this kind of schedule was too much for me. I know the kids had fun, but it was hard to get in the homeschooling with all the activities. So I am limiting them to a certain amount every month.

Plus all the activities were starting to cost more than I would like to spend every month. With our new budget, we won’t have the funds like we did before.

I am going to pick the activities that go with what we are learning at the time.

I think all of this will help us stay on track and have a great homeschool year.

Peak into our homeschool life

Like I had said in an earlier post, we didn’t start a new school year in August. We are still finishing up Kindergarten, 7th and 9th grade. Our new school year begins in January, after our holiday break.

But I wanted to give you a peak into some of the things we have been doing.

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Scavenger Hunt at the park

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Beginning spelling and yes he is shirtless 99% of the time

Growing a large family

This is after he beat me at Go Fish for the millionth time

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Pumpkin fun

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More Park Fun

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She free-handed her pumpkin drawing then carved it.

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My lil farmer boy

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Homeschool Day at the Florida Aquarium

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Turtle Learning at the Florida Aquarium

We have had a lot of park days lately. We also have had quite a few field trips.

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New school year

Usually this would be where I tell you all about the beginning of our new school year. Except I’m not because we didn’t. That’s right. I think its dumb to try to teach kids how a calendar year works when school begins towards the end of it. Plus we had a very slow start last year that I decided our year is running from January to November. So basically we are finishing up with the last of our months of school before everyone moves on to new grades. During the summer we took a slower approach but there was still learning and progress being made.

Dakota is finishing up Kindergarten. He has finally gotten excited about learning and doing school so that has made things more exciting and fun for me. And the best part is the little booger knows more than I gave him credit for. He is breezing through letter and sounds. Writing is coming easier for him. And Math and Science are his favorite right now. He has even started learning to add on his own, count by 100’s and read numbers in the thousands. All this has happened naturally and I love it!

Brianna has been a little bit more difficult only because we have noticed everything has been sliding backwards with her. We were always told that no one could predict what her limit was and I think we have max it out. So for the most part I try to incorporate a lot of art, science experiments and letting her join in where ever she feels like. But she still has a workbook to work out of and I try to give her computer time or tablet time at least once a day.

Cailin is done with English 9 and has moved on to English 10. She is finishing up pre-Algebra which has been a struggle for her. We are also almost done with Biology. American History has been a struggle for me to begin because I hate History but I know it needs to be done so I am starting that. She is also beginning Creative Photography and American Sign Language. OH and over the summer she completed the written part of Drivers ed. Now she needs her permit and her Daddy to start with the actual driving part.

I am very happy with the progress we are making. Sometimes I feel like we are not learning anything and then I write it all down and feel good about our progress. Plus we did testing and everything was confirmed.

Deschooling

Deschooling is an important step when transitioning from regular school to homeschool. You need that time to relax and get out of the mind frame that homeschooling doesn’t have to be like a classroom. You don’t have to cover all of the subjects everyday and you don’t have to learn in the form of worksheets and test. You don’t have to leave a paper trail to show progress or accomplishments. Learning should be free and hands on. You should encourage your children’s interest and follow their questions to guide you along their learning path. Not some paper or book or professional that says at this age they should know how to do this, that and this and that.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I didn’t do anything that I just ranted and raved about! I have homeschooled for 8 years now. I took my kids out of school and went straight into workbooks and worksheets. We didn’t deschool. Our lessons took precedence over the fun of schooling. Experiments got pushed to the back burner along with field trips and fun. And I mostly think this is why my oldest rebelled. And why ultimately she went back to school.

So why haven’t I posted anything about schooling for the last 3 months or so. Well…..because I finally realized that we needed to deschool. We needed to relax and take a step back. And find our path that we are meant to be on. And that we did.

We watched movies. We read books. We played. We went to Disney. We cooked and had lots of holiday fun. We played video games. And we relaxed! Plus we also took many opportunities to ask questions and look up the answers. In fact, they ask so many questions at moments when we weren’t near a computer that my daughter started carrying pen and paper to write them all down.

But we were still learning. We also talked about where we wanted our homeschool path to head.

But more importantly we lived by the motto of Live, Laugh, Love.

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December Preschool

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The holidays are here along with the hustle and bustle. This time of year always throws off our homeschooling schedule. I just have way too much cooking and shopping to do. Along with all the fun holiday activities! There is visiting Santa, Christmas crafts and baking, visiting fun holiday places and watching all those movies. So why not make that a part of homeschooling. I know I learn something new every year, so I am sure your kids will too. Plus your kids are only young once and you want to enjoy these little memories before their too big and too cool to hang with you. Believe me! I know!

Activities planned for the month:

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Putting up our tree
  • Visiting Santa
  • Mailing a letter to Santa
  • Baking Cookies
  • Pinecone Painting
  • G is for Gingerbread~ Gingerbread paint, making gingerbread men or house
  • Learn about reindeers
  • Poinsettias
  • National Cocoa Day~ measuring and mixing (that’s math people!)
  • Grinch day~ Learn about kindness. Pin the heart on the Grinch and grinch juice as a snack. Plus watching old and new version of the movie.
  • Candy Canes~ Cane Hunt, Playdough, Paint and erupting Candy canes
  • Polar Express PJ Party
  • 1st day of Winter
  • Snowball Fight and Homemade Snow Fun
  • Advent Calendar
  • Walt Disney’s B-day December 5
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Field Trips planned:

  • Disney World~ At Hollywood Studios, they have an amazing light display called the Osbourne Family Lights. It is the best display I have ever seen. And, of course, the lighting of the castle at Magic Kingdom. This year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf are lighting the tree. Very exciting!
  • Park
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • Lowes for the monthly building activity
  • Looking at Christmas lights

Because it’s a busy month, I haven’t planned out everyday. I just made a list and when I need an idea I search through and grab the ones that appeal to me that day.

For more ideas visit my pinterest boards. Christmas Activities for school and December preschool lessons

I also have a Christmas board that has a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas and Advent Calendar activities.

 

 

November Preschool Curriculum

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November is filled with so much learning opportunities that it really doesn’t need much added to it. For my 5 yr old, holidays are a huge event right now. He loves counting down from one holiday to the next. We have several calendars set up and special markers added for Thanksgiving. We also made a paper chain that he can rip off and count everyday.

 

I am choosing to focus mostly on the meaning of Thanksgiving. These are some points I plan on covering this month:

  • Who are Pilgrims and Native Americans
  • Where the Pilgrims came from, where they ended up and how they got there
  • Meaning of Thanksgiving (being thankful)
  • What the first Thanksgiving was like
  • Foods then and now
  • Showing Kindness
  • Basic Thanksgiving words and crafts

As extra bonus, there were a few special days from the calendar this month that I will throw in there.

  • X-ray day (Saturday 11/8)
  • Recycling Day (Saturday 11/15)
  • Button Day (Sunday 11/16)
  • Homemade Bread Day (Monday 11/17)
  • Mickey Mouse Birthday (Tuesday 11/18)
  • Traffic Light Day (Thursday 11/20)

The days that fall on weekends, I usually fit in where ever I need an activity.

There were also 2 days from last month that I either didn’t get to or I couldn’t find my materials that I will definitely work in this month.

  • National Nut day
  • Reptile Awareness Day

Every lesson I talk about letters and their sounds. We will be counting daily. I have a little bit of science, history, geography, art, cooking, and color recognition.  My son and I read books daily. Utilize your library!

I get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. Follow my board November Preschool Ideas I pin all ideas specific to the month in one separate board to keep me from having to search forever.

I also print out a monthly calendar and use a notebook to keep things easy and convenient.  On the calendar, I mark the days of special events. This gives me a quick cheat sheet.

In my notebook is where I detail everything. I will write the date, the theme and different activities that go with it. Everything from the letters we learn, the book will read and the crafts or activities that I have saved on Pinterest. This keeps me from suffering from Mommy Brain and able to stay on track.

Another thing I do (most of the time)  is print out different activities ahead of time, and keep it in a monthly folder.

I am not a very organize person, but these 3 things keep me on track and are worth my time.

Let me know what works for you!

How I homeschool my preschooler

How to homeschool preschool

Dakota beginning his preschool years (2013)

 

My son hates school. He hates the idea of going away from Mom everyday. He hates the coloring and other boring stuff. He wants to have fun!

When he turned 5 this past July, I knew I didn’t want him to start Kindergarten until he was 6. But I also knew I had to enforce school more. I had to buckle down and make him do it and learn. And then I had a melt down and wanted to (probably did) cry.

I was bored, he was bored, his sisters were bored. Everything needed to change.

Finally, I have found a plan that works for us!

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I signed up for a million homeschooling blogs and newsletter that I barely have time to read. One was from LivingMontessoriNow. About the time, I was ready to send him to a half day preschool, I opened one of their emails. It was a listing of different events or holidays for the month of October. As I was glancing through it, I saw how I could fix our preschool. I was too focused on the letter of the week, number of the day and blah blah. I sucked all the fun out of it.

Stuffed Animal Picnic Day

Stuffed Animal Picnic Day

I used these days as my theme for the day. Then, I tied in crafts, letters and sounds, counting and anything else I could, in with the theme. The days have a much more relaxed feel to it. He is asking if it is time for school. He loves the themes and is absorbing what I am teaching. He can even retell it to his Daddy during dinnertime. Without any prompt, he is telling Daddy or Sissy Alissa what he did or learned. I am trying to make everything visual and hands on. By doing this, I am seeing a difference. By letting him ask questions and answering or explaining things to him, he has become a little sponge!

Not only is my Lil Man loving and learning in school now, but it is cheap to almost free most of the time. I use Pinterest and blogs that provide free worksheets to create my “curriculum.” I use the library to find our books for our themes or movies. I also use Netflix from time to time.

So what has my son learned in the last month and a half.

  • We learned more about chickens.
  • We learned about Ducks. And in the process of reading a duck book, he learned what male/female meant.
  • He went to the movie theater for the first time and saw Dolphin Tale 2.
  • He learned the letters c,d,p,j,s,b,f and e. Meaning he practices writing them and learned their sounds.
  • Started practicing his last name.
  • Learned about Fire Safety.
  • Also learned about different ways to put a fire out and what keeps it going.
  • Learned about poisonous snakes.

One night at dinner, he was telling my hubby and I about how when it’s dark here, it is daytime somewhere else. I don’t even know where he learned that.

I know he learned so much more because he sat in on lessons with his sisters and helped on projects. And my lil guy is always asking questions and wanting something explained.

We have also been taking a lot of field trips! My son is very into maps right now and learning about Geography, where our state is and where other states and countries are. So a field trip to the Food Festival at Epcot was the perfect spot for growing that learning.

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And to play some drums!

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To wrap up the month, of course we had to have some fall fun with a lesson about how pumpkins grow and the life cycle. What letters and sounds do pumpkin and jack o’lantern start with and wrapping it up with a trip to the pumpkin patch.

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And the best part was how Dakota kept saying how much fun he was having. Score for Momma!