Archive | October 2014

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!

 

 

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3 year Blogiversary

 

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Growing a large family 3 year blogiversary

 

It was 3 years ago today that I decided to start a blog. A place where I can vent and connect with the world. I also did many searches for large family blogs and couldn’t find any. So I decided that that was the direction I wanted to go. Over the years it has morphed into an eclectic collection of moments in our lives from homeschooling to homesteading. I try to keep it real, but classy and positive at the same time. I hope I have provided some humor along with some ideas and tips to help with your lives. All I ask is that you spread the word.

 

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Now let’s take a look back at my top post over the last 3 years.

First Day of School 2013

Homemade Pizza Dough

Building our Coop de Ville

 

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My Favorite Post:

I’m Southern and I can’t bake biscuits

This is my favorite post because I always ask myself why can’t I make biscuits. I grew up watching Grandma make them. I have tackled some pretty difficult recipes and have honestly impressed the heck out of myself sometimes. But biscuits are my Achilles heel! UPDATE: I still haven’t found and made a good biscuit yet!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

Selfie! OH wait am I too close!

 

Theses are the post that sum me up as a person. These post show who I am perfectly.

Our Frugal Disney Vacation

City Girl living a Country life

Check in with my flock

Family Dinners

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Let me know your favorite post and what you would like to see more of.

 

 

A new level of frugal

Hubby and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary this past May. Since the 2 of us haven’t been on vacation without the kids since our honeymoon, we thought it would be the perfect time. We had a nice relaxing long weekend at Disney! It was wonderful. But I am not sure we were prepared for what happened next.

A summer of togetherness. 24/7 togetherness!

Since our return from vacation, Hubby’s business has slowed down like 100%. He is only working a handful of days out of the month for the last 4 months. So as the months past by, we have had to really tighten our belts and cut out unnecessary expenses. Of course, me being me, cut out all of my beauty expenses or at least went the cheaper route. Back to dying my own hair and waxing my own eyebrows. And no recent hair cuts. But having 2 boys in the house that needed haircuts every month was getting expensive.

So I bought a clipper set at BJs and learned how to cut hair.

I started with my son. I figured if I messed up then no big deal he was 5 and wouldn’t care.

 

Before

Before

 

After

After

Not too bad for my first time.

Then my youngest daughter wanted bangs. So back to youtube I went.

Before

Before

 

After

After

One side did end up a little shorter than the other. But for my first time, I think it was good. She was happy.

Since this I have done my son’s hair many times. I have to say I prefer cutting the boys hair, much easier and if you screw up just shave it all off. I have even started cutting my Hubby’s hair. Which was nerve racking because he is so particular about it. But I have done it twice and he was very happy. So I have saved us at least $100 so far. The clippers only cost $30. So far a $70 profit. And the more I do it, the better and faster I get. This past Monday, I did both boys in an hour. That beats have to go to Fantastic Sams and wait, not to mention the time and the cost of gas it takes to get there.

Beginning a new school year

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This is from a few years ago, but totally captured how I felt beginning this new school year.

This school year has had so many ups and downs that I am scared to see what the next 8 months bring. I just couldn’t get everything going. I had no motivation. Plus I was lost trying to homeschool 3 kids at 3 different levels. This was a first for me. Even when my girls were all home, they were close to each other that I could teach them all and then give different activities. But this year was different.

I have a High schooler,Cailin, as if that isn’t stressful enough. All the questions of am I doing the right thing? Am I screwing her up for life? Am I giving her enough classes or too much? What about college?!?

Then I have my special needs daughter, Brianna. She learns something but still struggles with 1st to 2nd grade math. We haven’t moved past basic division because she get so frustrated. She loves Science and Nature but hates writing and history. She gets frustrated if I try to help and then in the same breath frustrated that I didn’t help. *SIGH*

Last is my darling son, Dakota, who is extremely smart and retains things very quickly, but HATES SCHOOL!!!!! He would rather play with video games and toys or watch Disney Jr than pick up a crayon. He can write his name and recognize most letters. He just learned to count to 25 but would rather learn adding and telling time. Like I said extremely smart, but also my “I can’t” kid, which I have never had to deal with before.

Needless to say in the last month and half that we have been suppose to be doing school, there were a lot of struggles, tears and me saying I was done. I sat down with the kids a few times and tried to brainstorm what would help all of us. What I heard was

  • I hate being in my room reading from 10 different textbooks (Cailin)
  • I want more science ( Brianna and Cailin)
  • I want more projects or hands on stuff (both again)
  • I want more art (both again)
  • I like stickers, painting, storytime, circle time, fun games and toys, BUT NO COLORING! (demanding  darling son)
  • Cooking (all 3)

For me, it was research time!

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Maybe we were unschooling all along! Snow ball fight in Florida!

 

Unschooling
Unschooling was one of the first methods I checked out. I knew I was tired of worksheets and blah reading. And I also knew I was burned out. And I knew I just didn’t have it in me to be stressed out and worrying about curriculum deadlines. But I was worried about Cailin not having enough credits or requirements to get into culinary school. I knew she would read and learn on a daily basis, but what about Brianna. During the weekends all she does is sleep, walk around the yard or sleep and watch TV. She has no goals, interest, hobbies or independence. She needs me to lead and direct. Then there is Dakota, who as I stated earlier would play video games all day long.
I didn’t like the couple of days we tried it and neither did the kids, except Lil Man. At the same time, there were some readings about how unschooling is letting go of everything. No chores, no rules, eating whatever they want, basically letting them make their choices. Again this is not going to work in my house.
  1. I am a control freak and so is my hubby.
  2. My kids will eat junk food instead of making healthy choices.
  3. I am trying to go organic and that stuff is expensive. If I let my skinny mini special needs child go on free will by the end of the day my groceries will be gone. She doesn’t eat because she is hungry. She eats because it is 8 o’clock, 12 o’clock, 5 o’clock or because she is bored.
  4. I have a VERY hard time getting the kids to do their chores as is, if I let them choose then nothing will be done, other than me listening to Hubby complain.
  5. I have a large family and I am only 1 person!

So some of the ideas didn’t sit well with me.

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Doing a fun project just because we can!

 

Project based learning
Project based learning was next. I liked how it was very hands on and I knew my kids would love that. But it was once again child led. We tried this for a few days. My oldest began a project, did very well, but hasn’t touched it since. My youngest just wants to read the Mo Willems Pigeon books, but no activities to go with them. And Brianna refused to read the book, picked out a cat, started to make a cat but then got frustrated. Once again I helped too much and then not enough.
Meeting time
We sat down again and went over everything we liked and didn’t like about the last few weeks. The things we took away from this meeting were pretty simple. My kids liked when I was teaching them and planning the activities. They didn’t want to have all that responsibility, but they do like a say in what we learn. Which is fine because I love Pinterest and planning all those activities.
My kids hate writing! So I will include that in with other subjects.  Brianna loved Little House in the Big woods and Cailin wants to read Shakespeare. UMMM OK!!! Everyone wants more science. Heck, if all day, everyday was just science they would be happy. Cailin was doing Biology and she liked what they were teaching just not how and Brianna is very interested in animals, insects and plants. Take away textbooks, add some hands on activities, videos, interactive notebooking and field trips~ you got yourself and very fun science curriculum.
I struggled with History and Art. That is not my thing. American history, YES! World History, NO! So I have my mom helping me to put that together and make it more hands on. They liked our curriculum, Story of the World, but wanted art tied into it and more videos and hands on. I have to admit in my we have to finish this now, I would skip a lot of hands on activities. Yup bad mom of the year here. But it’s okay, because I am reformed now! And again, thank God for Pinterest and lovely homeschool blogging moms who have the answer to my struggles.
This helped with my older kids, but what about Dakota. Well for one, he likes to say he is smarter than his sisters. So I being the mom I am told him if he doesn’t do school and they do school eventually he won’t be smarter. Don’t judge! He is my stubborn one and if it works it works. But seriously, I also noticed that if it is something that catches his attention, he will participate. The other day, the girls were observing and drawing in their nature journal outside, which was his idea (a miracle). He had to have a nature journal too. And so he sat, drawing and from time to time running to catch butterflies. That in my book is a success!
In the end
We can’t and won’t be labeled. We are Unschoolers. Everyday is learning if you really pay attention and think. We think we are just living, but living and learning goes hand and hand. So me explaining why the dumbass who just cut me off in the car is a dumbass is learning. Or why we need to go get this for the chickens or why we don’t buy this brand or version of the food. It is valuable information that they are soaking up and storing away.
We are Project Based because we love using our hands and really being able to observe and process it. We love a good project but also know when to move on. It doesn’t consume our lives.
We are Teacher led because my kids want to spend time with me and listen to my knowledge. And let’s be honest, I don’t know how many more years I have with them and I am going to enjoy them. They are getting older you know.
We are Curriculum Based meaning we follow a curriculum but it was set up based on suggestions from the kids. Which must mean we are Child Led also.
Look I don’t know about you, but recently the reality has hit that my kids aren’t staying little. I have a year and a half until my oldest public school daughter graduates and goes off to college and 4 years with Cailin. Those years are going to fly and I just want to enjoy. I want to make memories and laugh. I want to have fun and live. I want to enjoy this season of my life before the next comes around. So I am not looking to check off a box of another school subject done. The only boxes I want to check off is moments lived!
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Picnic time