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!

 

 

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

Cooking with kids~Pumpkin Cookies

Today is the beginning of a brand new series here. Cooking with my kids is something I am trying to do more of. Sometimes it is easier to just get in the kitchen and do it myself. But other times it is easier to involve one of them because then it cuts down on the fighting from boredom.

In celebration of hoping and wishing for fall here in the deep south, Lil Man and I made Pumpkin Cookies. I have to admit I have never tried these. I don’t like pumpkin! *GASP* There I said it while everyone is counting down to Pumpkin this and that, I am looking forward to apple flavored items. But my family loves these easy cookies. And they don’t last long at all, so they must be good.

I found this recipe on Pinterest. It only takes 2 ingredients can of pumpkin puree and box of spice cake mix.

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Mix them up real good.

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And bake at 350 degrees for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool. These are a soft cookie so they won’t take long to bake and less likely to dry out.

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I am a huge fan of Pinterest! You can follow me at http://www.pinterest.com/jeanetteford/.

Enjoy!

 

Getting challenge ready

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Creating a Master Menu

In my household, it is very easy to jump into the day and get caught up in all the things that need to be done. Homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, chickens and then there is meal time, by the time I get a chance to breathe it is 4:00 and I have no idea what’s for dinner. I need a plan. It’s one of many ways I keep my life organized and our budget on track.

This summer I took my meal planning to a whole new level. I went through my cookbooks (believe me there is a lot!) and made monthly menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner of all of my families favorites. I have enough menus for 5 months worth of dinners. We only have 1 or 2 months for breakfast and lunch, but are trying to expand on those also. We will begin using these menus in September. I love trying new recipes so the weekends are left opened for those. I also only use these during the school year. Summer is all about finding new favorites.

 

Creating a Monthly Grocery List

Another thing I am starting to do is a beginning of the month huge shopping. I make a grocery listing everything I need and then go through and cross off what I already have. From there, I go through and add things that I am getting low on that I know are necessities and we will need before the month runs out.

Now I break down the produce items by the week. Obviously, buying fresh produce for a whole month and expecting it to stay fresh until the end of the month is unrealistic. So I do a quick produce and milk shopping every week.

Why I do a monthly shopping
I live out in a rural area and it is not economical for me to be driving to the store multiple times. Not only that but I have a big family. So I choose to take one weekend to do my huge shopping. One day I drive North to BJ’s and stop at a Publix. And then a few days later, when I go to my mother in laws, I stop at Costco, Fresh Market and a Meat market if need be. These are all close to her house. I am technically not making an extra trip because I have to go pick up which ever kids are at her house anyways. Plus this just works for me. If I lived in the city or closer to these places, I probably wouldn’t shop monthly.

 

Where I Shop

I usually shop at BJ Wholesale, Publix and Walmart. In doing my research of the variety of products, I have decided to drop Walmart stores. The stores are very limited on in store organic or natural products, but online they have an amazing selection with some items cheaper than Amazon. Plus by shopping online and using the mypoints.com website you will earn points towards gift cards for Amazon, Walmart or Visa. I honestly cannot tell you how much I love this site. But that is another post.

 I also just recently purchased a Costco membership after reading many blog post about the amount of organic items and doing a walk-through of the store. I also did this through an email deal from MyPoints and earned extra points. So September will be my first month shopping there.
Near Costco, there is a meat market that sells grass-fed beef for the same price as regular beef at Publix. I am driving by so of course I am going to stop there and get my beef and anything else that looks good. Again I haven’t been there yet. This is based off of my research.
But I have been to the new Fresh Market by my Mother in Law’s house. AMAZING! It was a real food culinary dream. I will definitely be stopping there when I need fresh seafood. Very little meat is prepackaged, it all gets wrapped by the butcher when you order it. Plus they have an amazing bulk section.
I will post updates on my Facebook, instagram and of course here as to how this worked for me.
Throwing out all the junk
Now is the time to begin. Go through the house and throw out all the junk and buy all organic and natural items. NO!
The frugal side of me cannot suggest or even fathom doing this. I hate waste! It drives me crazy! Use what you got until it gone and then switch to the healthier version. This summer, we had already made the switch to organic milk because I was buying a half gallon for me, but realized it would be cheaper to just switch out our gallons for organic. My eggs are 90% farm fresh because my neighbors have been letting me buy their extras for next to nothing. Once in a while I buy eggs at the store and get the vegetarian eggs.
I am finally getting low on some items and I will be switching them over in September. I knew how awful vegetable oil is but I didn’t toss out what I had, I used it up and now can switch to coconut oil. My sugar is almost gone so I am switching to organic. And I am finishing up the meat in the freezer, but am hoping to buy 90% all natural, grass fed or wild for what I need to buy.
If you have some stuff that is unopened and really want to make the switch, then maybe donating to a local food bank is a great option for you. Remember no waste!
Don’t be too hard on yourself
Remember, nobody is perfect 100% of the time. There will be times when the kids are starving or your out running errands and you just NEED to have that Pumpkin Spice Latte to get you through. I know for a fact that this coming month is going to be hard for us because our Disney passes are back and we will be going almost every weekend. But we are going to try our hardest and not fret over the times we can’t. My goal is 80/20. If I am at home, I want to make a meal instead of loading everyone up and going out and then feeling yucky afterwards. I want to feel better not be strict. I want to know I am feeding healthy options to my family, instead of crap that does nothing to for the mind and body. But am I overly crazy about it? NO, just doing the best I can do. One day, week, month and food choice at a time.

Fun weekend!

It’s the little things in life that make me smile. This weekend was one of those times that just made me giddy.

Saturday was the big day! The day I have been waiting for since April, when I bought all those fuzzy chicks home. That’s right folks! I got an egg!

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Here is proud egg layer!

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Thing 1

The first egg arrived on Saturday morning. I happen to hear one of the other hens singing the egg song so I went rushing out there thinking she laid an egg. But really she just likes announcing when others have made a nest and our laying their eggs. That is when I found Thing 1, not in the nesting boxes, but in her own little homemade nest. So for about an hour, I kept peeking at her and finally it was there. And I squealed like a girl. But hey, farmer’s can be girly!

Then Sunday, she took almost all day to lay again. And I sent little man out to gather the egg. But she wasn’t done yet. So we found these beauties in the garden instead.

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Thirty minutes later, little man and I went out again and found our 2nd egg.

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Needless to say, my kids are so excited about having to check for eggs everyday.

2014 homeschooling schedule

I am excited for this new chapter of schooling. I made some changes that I hope and pray will work because I just don’t know if I can handle throwing out and starting over part 3. Originally we were doing 6 weeks of school and then a 2 week break. This was idea when my kids were younger, but now we are in middle school. And honestly 6 weeks isn’t enough time to fit in all the learning that we wanted to do. Basically any hands on activity and field trips got pushed to the back burner. They have burned to a crisp by now.

Plus I realized when the holidays were upon us, there just wasn’t enough time to do our regular homeschool routine and celebrate with fun activities. So, of course, all the fun was sucked out again. Also I felt like I was always rushed to shop and entertain and homeschool and EVERYTHING!!! I didn’t get to enjoy it!

Well I have found a schedule that will fix all that. January through May, we are doing school consistently with a week off in March for Spring Break. Our spring break will be different every year because we will coordinate with my oldest daughters school schedule. They will also have the occasional day off here or there.  We will wrap our school year up in May and have June and July off for summer break. Then in August we will start our new school year and homeschool strong with the occasional day off through to Thanksgiving. The week of Thanksgiving will mark our Holiday break. We will be off until after the first of the year.

This schedule is just for my older kids. My preschooler will be doing school all the time. His schedule is a little more relaxed. We usually do school 3-4 days a week. And he needs consistency to keep up with what he is learning. These breaks are the perfect time for some one on one time with mommy.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2014!

Oh how I have looked forward to you! So many things are going to happen this year.

My hubby turns 40. We celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We have been together 12 years. Our children will turn 17, 15, 15 and 5.

But other than that I look forward to the life I am ready to live. I have spent way too much time putting things off and now I am going to do it! 

I am looking forward to blogging more because I feel like I have finally found something I love.

I am determine to take photography classes to go along with that fancy camera I got so many months ago.

I want to homeschool in a way that I see my kids love learning and flourish.

I want to get and feel healthy. I am tired of being tired and not feeling like a 32 year old.

Also I want to grow our family!

But mostly I just want to be present in my kids lives and live like it’s our last moment on Earth. As you know I have fought depression in the past and though I did good this last year, I feel like in the new year I can be even better. And after a health scare with my son, it just jump started that feel to make the most of what you are given.

So I hope all of you the best in 2014. I hope you reach your goals and I hope you will follow me on this crazy journey I call life.

 

 

My old life vs my new life

City Life vs Country Life

Stay at Home Mom vs Homeschooling Mom

I remember dropping the kids off at school and going to a PTA meeting. Then heading to the mall, Target or a restaurant for lunch. Grocery shopping with no kids was normal. I made sure all of my errands were done by the time I picked my kids up from school so I wouldn’t have to go out with all 3 of them.

But I also remember the traffic and the way our neighborhood was going down hill. Our kids had no yard to play in and even if they did I wouldn’t let them. The playground down the road was home to daily drug deals and bratty teenagers. All things my babies were not going to be exposed to.

Then again, I remember how much I loved my children’s school. How nice the teachers were. You couldn’t go ten feet without someone saying hello or good morning. The school was fantastic. Had we stayed in that area, I don’t know if I would have started homeschooling.

But then I remember the way I had to leash up my dogs and take them out one by one. I also remember how scary it was doing that in the dark.

Then we moved out here where there is no traffic except during our fair days. I have an acre and half for my kids and dogs to run in. No more leashes, drug deals and bratty teenagers (except my own).

Oh but the school, I hated it. I was supposedly part of the PTA board but they never included me. I was made to feel like I wasn’t welcomed because I was new. The teachers gossiped instead of greeting you when you walked through the halls. I remember being mortified when a teacher followed me out of a classroom to continue an argument with me. I remember being looked at with disgusted to whole rest of the year. I also remember constantly fighting with the teachers to follow my special needs child’s IEP. I also remember the way they let kids bully her because she didn’t look special needs.

And now I get up start my day with a cup of coffee. Get my oldest off to school and feel good knowing my other kids are right where they should be. Every child’s path is different. Every family’s life is different. There was a fork in the road for me and I could have stayed being the typical suburban mom or moved to country and become a totally different person.

My heart is fuller knowing I changed into someone who is not so shallow, not self absorbed and very much fighting for her kids. I wanted to fit into the whole status quo of what a suburban mom is: shopping, socializing and, yes on the outside, a good mom and wife.

But I honestly regret those years that I wasn’t home with my girls. I wish I lived out in the country from the beginning and homeschooled from Kindergarten and up. I wish I saw how fast that time was going to go by and treasured it a little more.

Better late than never though.