how we began

Disclaimer: I am not posting this because I consider myself to be a homeschooling expert! I just tried to start with what I already know and what I already have and am rather hoping for critique, suggestions, and ideas to gush in from all sides. PLEASE. It takes a village to learn to homeschool, people, and you are my village. 

When I really sat down with myself and began to plan a few weeks back, I started with a few simple goals: A fun, stress-free, hands-on, kid-friendly learning environment. I don’t want to push, pressure, stress, over-work, or bother my child. I want simple goals, fun activities, and a realistic schedule of short and *hopefully* interesting ideas, with lots of time open to play, explore, and create. (And, incidentally, learn).

The second thing that helped me begin was that I had in mind several categories or subjects for exploration. They are: Calendar, Language Arts (writing, etc.), Math Readiness, Social Studies and Sciences, Creative/Artistic and Domestic Exploration, Reading, and Bible. I designed a blank planning chart with these headings across the top and the days of the week down the side. It’s not as intense as it sounds. We change Norah’s calendar every morning as it is, Bible time is our family worship that we do nightly before bed. I have grouped social studies and science together, and creative and home projects together. That leaves just five areas of learning to think about on each school day, and often some of them will be blank or have just suggestions of things we can do together or Norah can do alone if she is interested. If we are going to the library, that can be a reading or social studies activity. If we are playing at the park, we can collect leaves for “science” on the way home.

I established a few goals in each category: for language arts, we are going to be practicing holding a pencil and writing letters and lines. For math, we are working on counting and matching and patterns this autumn. I’ve had probably the most fun planning read-aloud books and activities to go with them and planning Bible time lessons on attributes of God that match up with each letter of the alphabet. (Don’t you just love the alphabet?)

The only things I bought were a new “To Do Next” folder for Norah, a pretty flowery binder for her to keep her finished work, and some new (paperback) read-aloud books for the autumn. I say this with deepest gratitude to my precious sister-in-law Elena, who found and shipped to me a bunch of preschool basic skills workbooks, which are hugely helpful.

I’ll stop here so you have time to leave a comment and share your ideas and suggestions (hint, hint . . .).

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12 Responses to how we began

  1. Krisie says:

    Love the organization and goal setting. Betsy, you are ambitious with the bible – I love that. We are covering Joseph’s story in 5 lessons – so 5 weeks in the PreK Sunday School. Great story! Sorry I don’t have any ideas/suggestions as I’m not a homeschooler. I have found some fun group games on the internet though. I’ll share that I guess. We are doing: ‘God wants us to be kind’ using the bit of Joseph’s story about how Reuben tried to be kind to Joseph and convinced his brothers not to kill him. Torn Heart (from internet) – make a big heart cut out of paper and pass around to children and allow them to crumple or make small cut, then pass back around and have them attempt to repair. Thus displaying how unkind words impact others hearts. Lego/block stairs (maybe on internet but didn’t see it, came to me last night) – show how from a dolls perspective, the doll(if moving as we do) cannot get to a high place. Give each child a lego/block and as they each add their lego to create a staircase up to the high place have them give an example of a kind thing to say to someone. Thus displaying kind words build each other up. I love finding the active games that teach these very true lessons. Happy Homeschooling!

  2. KTSP says:

    It’s so fun to read your blog. We are also starting to homeschool for pre-school. I found a pre-school curriculum on line for $25 and it includes Bible stories, character traits, letters, numbers, and craft ideas. It is wonderful to include the Bible and character traits to learning. So far, my son LOVES pre-school time and I love it because it gives us some structure to our days. I think homeschooling is going to b a great fit for our family.
    God bless you!

  3. Susan says:

    hi – I feel I should crawl out of the woodwork, have been stalking your blog (ahem!) for a few months – can’t remember how we stumbled here. We’ve just started homeschooling our 4 year old son Jed (while his almost 2 year old brother hangs around too). We’re living in North London, not too far away, so just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in the home-schooling desert that is England. Sigh. Jed should’ve started reception this year, but we’ve continued to send him to pre-school (nursery) just 2 mornings a week and will homeschool the rest of the time. Started yesterday and it mainly went OK. He was a bit quiet this morning and said that “I had a very busy day yesterday so I need to rest today” so perhaps we overdid it a bit… Anyway, so here we are.
    Hope day 2 goes well!

    • betsy says:

      Susan, thank you so much for commenting and for your good wishes! You are very welcome here and it was great to hear of a mum with kids the same ages wanting to homeschool–in these parts. 🙂

  4. Haley says:

    My approach thus far is just to do a couple of things before or after each meal. So after breakfast we do prayer, calendar, and chores. After lunch we do poetry, maps, and memory work. During dinner prep I play classical music (one composer at a time a la Charlotte Mason). The two exceptions are that during the baby’s morning nap we do a bit of handwriting and/or something creative and that we read all the time, not just at “learning time”. Connecting our learning time to eating time means that we’re pretty much guaranteed to do it because meals always happen. The learning just becomes part of our normal routine, and I love that.

  5. I also love Charlotte Mason! Sounds like you are off to a great start!
    I definitely think that in the preschool years kids can learn mainly from life and books. I tend to think about structuring time, not content. In other words, we have a routine, and there are times when I am engaged in learning with the kids, but we don’t always do the exact same things.
    Calendar and reading are the consistent daily things. The other things we vary on a weekly basis. I usually pick out books by topic from the library. For instance, we currently have lots of books out about The Netherlands so we have done some looking at maps, talking about some artists, and reading stories that are about or take place there. We also look at the world map on our wall daily and point out the countries we currently know, etc. This always happens on our way to brush our teeth in the evening.
    In case you don’t know her blog Confessions of a Homeschooler often has free downloads which might be nice since you are overseas. Some of it is very workbookish, but some is quite helpful. She just recently released a free download for a daily notebook. (And I don’t know her at all, so I’m not getting anything from this, just thought it might be helpful)
    This is entirely too long, especially since you don’t know me, but I love seeing and talking about ideas for teaching kids at home. 🙂

  6. Pingback: reflecting on term one | part of the main

  7. Pingback: of the ABCs of God for Bible time, part one | part of the main

  8. Pingback: of the ABCs of God for Bible Time, part two | part of the main

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