Well guys, we are now a little over a month in our first homeschool year! I wanted to write this post as an update because, as I was saying on Instagram, you can’t really know what is going to work or what you’re even going to do until you just start. This reminds me of knitting, which I learned how to do during this pandemic season. I would have these lofty plans in my head and then get all the materials I needed for a new project (that was probably way too advanced for my newbie self). The hardest part was always STARTING. I didn’t know what I was doing at all but I just started anyway — I just dove in and learned as I knit. Homeschooling is sort of like that for me, I think.
So, if you read my previous blog post you know I had these grand plans to teach allllll these subjects and was even writing my own curriculum to go along with it. Okay well, real life — that worked for maybe four days. Well, it’s not that it didn’t work, it’s just that it was way too much for all of us. I spent my mornings anxiously trying to fit it all in and feeling stressed.
Grayson loved it but I have two other little kids to think about, too. It got to the point where I just needed to be more flexible and adapt our curriculum to, basically, be less. I actually realized through this experience that I can really only do half of what I think I can do. And you know what? That is okay. That’s where we are at right now. If doing less makes me a less stressed out mom and my kids are still happy and learning, I count that as a win. Right now, my two year old literally doesn’t let me do read alouds on the couch or teach math while he is awake (and destroying things). While that’s annoying, I know it’s only for a season. We can work with this!
So, here’s what we found to really work for us. Every morning, we have what we call Morning Time. It’s when we all gather around the table and soak in our beauty for the day (while the two year old throws rice and beans on the floor and the four year old does play-doh). Morning Time right now is literally only ten minutes. I’m okay with that. Every morning we sing a hymn, read the Ology, sometimes do some scripture copywork and work on our memory work. Right now, we are memorizing Ephesians 6: 10-20. We also have been following the Classical Conversations history memory “jingles” via the app (“In 1620 the piiiiiiilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England and signed the Mayflower compact….”). It’s quite catchy and we all have been very much enjoying it! Then, after that, we sometimes listen to a piece of classical music, sometimes look at an art print, sometimes paint, sometimes read a poem, sometimes I read from a picture book…whatever works for the day.
After trying a few different things we finally decided to go with the literature and project based curriculum for elementary students, The Playful Pioneers, from Peaceful Press. It’s all early American history that uses either the Little House on the Prairie books or the Little Britches books (we chose the latter since we already have read laura ingalls wilder last year) as a spine. After trying a few different things, I can safely say this curriculum is AMAZING. We all love it. It’s really just read alouds and projects, which my kids thrive on. This curriculum covers us for history, science, geography and language arts. I just add in math (here’s what we use) and it’s a complete day.
Playful Pioneers is also super family friendly because you can just adapt it for the ages of your kids. It’s also very flexible. I teach “morning time” right when we start school (little kids at the table with their sensory activities like playdoh, rice bins or lots of snacks), then we take a break. When we come back, we do some table time work. Grayson works on his copywork for the day and does some phonics from an Explode the Code book, which he loves. We take another longer break then later, after lunch when Brooks takes a nap, I teach reading, math and we work on labeling our US map according to what we are currently studying. At night right before bed, we do the “big” read aloud for the day from Little Britches (it’s a great book but not appropriate for toddlers or preschoolers. It’s like a step up from Little House on the Prairie).
Playful Pioneers teaches American history through amazing living books, which I have Grayson narrate back when I read them. Once a week he works in his narration notebook, where he narrates, I write and then he illustrates his own narration.
That’s about it! I went from thinking “I had to do school ONLY in the morning and be done by lunch” to spacing it out throughout the day because that’s what works right now. We are also planning on joining a co-op next month so that will be our school day one day a week.
It is exhausting, to say the least. I rarely have time for myself these days and at 1pm I literally shove my kids in their rooms with their books on tape so I can take a short breather with a cup of tea. However, the self sacrifice is worth it because I see how much my kids LOVE learning! It is a joy to learn alongside them. Grayson tells me frequently that school is his favorite part of the day and I would have to agree.
As Charlotte Mason said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life”.
I think I will post again at the end of our term in December and provide another update. In the meantime, feel free to follow along in our crazy days on Instagram, as I’ve been sharing more and more frequently there.