So our Year of Learning is going incredibly well. Not at all because we have it all together (haha) but because we are sincerely learning a TON this year. In so many ways and in all areas.
It's been really important to me to get a blog post out there about our homeschool journey so far. I've been asked a lot of questions about what we're doing, and how we do it, etc.
Kate just turned 5 in August which means she is *officially* school age! Hooray!
We have gone back and forth for years about how or where we would do school for our kids. Public? Private? Charter? Homeschool? With the help of my older sister who homeschools (thank GOODNESS for her as a resource!) we have jumped in feet first to this homeschooling process. I've been observing and asking questions for a couple years to sort of figure out how this all works. And there are LOTS of choices. We decided to go ahead and homeschool this year because Kate is just starting kindergarten, and it's not even a required school-year in California. They don't have to be officially registered until first grade, so I felt like it was sort of a "freebie" year to try it out and see how we felt. :)
Now for the nitty gritty...
We enrolled Kate in a charter school through which we do independent study. We have a Home School Teacher (HST) who is assigned to us, and is there for us to ask questions, and guide our homeschool journey. They check in every month and we provide homeschool work samples for them. This can be a project we did, a worksheet, or even pictures of our activities and lessons at home.
So far my mood about homeschool has swung back and forth. I've been very excited, super overwhelmed, inspired and having fun, while also stressed and worried that I'm not doing enough. It depends on factors of the week.
For instance, when we got Kate enrolled with the charter school and signed up for her first classes at the learning center, I was super excited! I got some great ideas, ordered a world map from Amazon, and bought some binders. I also have a full pinboard on Pinterest of games and lessons I wanted to incorporate.
But THEN the semester officially started and I got an email from our HST with all these curriculum resources and paperwork and STAR testing assessments, and suddenly I felt like I had nothing ready! I didn't spend my summer setting up our home to look like a preschool classroom complete with themes, songs, and art projects for every day of the next four months and I felt like a failure! My friends started sending their kids off to public school and posting "first-day-of-school" pictures and I just felt like I was re-inventing the wheel. :/ I don't have an education degree or arsenals of supplies and child-ready programs for the kids to just show up and work on. I suddenly felt like it would have been WAY easier to just go drop Kate off at school for a few hours where she gets some wiggles out and learns some things and I also get some one-on-one time with Edwin.
I also missed our first day of the enrichment academy through the charter school because I just completely forgot about it, and was still spinning with ideas and online subscriptions and paperwork. :(
Once I finally had a chance to talk to my Inspire HST team, things calmed down a lot. I realized that I had been WAY overthinking the homeschool process, and my (easily worked-up) brain was grounded again in the reassuring excitement that I had initially found over the summer. If I wanted Kate to be in a public school learning environment, then I would have sent her to public school! But having her at home with independent study meant freedom for our family to explore and more personal involvement with her learning. It's just a paradigm shift from how I've always thought about learning and education.
Our homeschool doesn't have to look like public school. It doesn't have to look like anyone else's homeschool either. It can be the Kate and Edwin and Steph and Jon homeschool, and we can make it as formal or loosely structured as we want!
|learning about measurements and counting while baking with Gram|
The great thing about homeschool so far is feeling like I'm really involved and aware of what Kate is learning, and where her strengths and weaknesses are. For instance, we did a STAR evaluation of math and reading (which we did at home online) and it was really cool to see the way Kate understood the questions, or where she was challenged with reasoning and understanding. I was glad that I could see her working through her first test and know what kind of concepts she was introduced to.
Kate has also had SO much fun with her Learning Center classes each week! On the first day she had her clothes all picked out and came upstairs in the morning dressed head to toe and ready to go :)
It was bright outside, but I managed to get a couple pictures of her as we headed out the door.
She gets to meet new friends and make awesome projects :)
At home we are working on days of the week, and understanding time and schedules. The kids helped me build a reusable weekly calendar with a mounted corkboard.
This way they can help decide how the day is structured, and follow along with our routine. When they ask what day it is or what time it is, we look at the clock and then find the right day on the calendar by sounding out the words and find what activities we have planned.
Our homeschool is loosely structured and based on the kid's interests (instead of following a strict/boxed curriculum). We do a lot of reading, spend time each week at the library, and are studying maps and learning about the world (based on a book that Kate got for her birthday!) She even takes it to bed sometimes at night to look at the pictures, because it's that awesome!
Our philosophies right now with homeschool are that free time is really important, and so is building relationships. We don't want to rush lessons and push academics, but rather encourage the seeking of learning and provide opportunities for projects and exploration.
I worried that maybe I wasn't doing everything right, or that I should be doing a lot more, but thankfully one of the owners of the Learning Center we go to just started a podcast to help others navigate homeschool. Her first interview with Heily Young was exactly what I needed to hear. It helped me realize that I'm not alone and that many homeschool families start off the same way with similar feelings! Her blog and links to her podcast can be found here: http://www.navigatehomeschooling.com/
Over this next year we hope to focus more on life skills, money management, building relationships in our family and with God, and learning great problem solving skills and healthy conflict resolution. haha, simple lessons. ;) Heily Young also recommended getting to know your child's learning style and their love language (which I've read about in the Child Whisperer and Parenting with Love and Logic too.)
I'm excited to incorporate these ideas and build more into our homeschooling! We headed into it slowly to get our bearings, and are hoping to really take off in October. I'll also try better at posting brief weekly updates. :)
Fall, we're ready for ya!