Friday, August 26, 2011

Homeschool annex

Here's a peek at our homeschool annex. Our Montessori works are in the master bedroom, but we haven't been able to get into there lately because Sprout has taken to screaming when I leave his sight (we're on the last 2 teeth, so I'm hoping this calms down soon!). Instead, we've taken over a corner of the dining room.

This has slowly grown and is working well for right now. The table and chairs are a set from Ikea that's moved around our house as the needs have changed. I love them!

Next to it is a set of plastic drawers. Each drawer holds the materials for one subject (and one drawer for trash). I turn this around when we're not doing work so Sprout can't pull them all out.

On the back wall is our calendar. It reads:

Today is
August 26 2011
The weather is sunny
High temperature 92 degrees
Tomorrow is Saturday

We change this every morning and color in the weather graph (above the calendar). We're going to do a weather graph for each month, so we can see how things change during the year. Next month I might incorporate a line graph for the high temperature.

On the wall facing Nugget is a bulletin board. Across the top (barely visible) are some Aesop's Fables coloring pages. Below that, our Handwriting Without Tears letters. The major focus on the board is the materials from the Moffatt Girls' Ready2Read program. The caterpillar is made up of the sight words we've done, and below that is a garden of word families.

I really love this small, unobtrusive corner. Of course, other materials are spread throughout the house.... globes on the sideboard, books throughout the living room shelves, art supplies in the kitchen.... I'm so excited for a time when Sprout is less destructive and homeschooling can take over the whole house!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Not-Going-to-School Day!!

Today is the first day back to school in our county. Nugget is 4, not old enough for Kindergarten. But in our state, we have Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK). It's offered through preschools and private schools and is free if you want to do it. Every 4 year old we know who will be going into the school system goes to VPK; anyone who's left plans to homeschool for the early years.

So the questions have started -- we went to the (quiet) grocery store this morning and the cashier asked, "Your kids aren't ready for school yet?". I passed it off to Nugget ("Nugget, do you go to school?"), because I've found those questions are best defused by an extremely verbal child expressing her excitement at homeschooling.

Here's how our "first day of VPK" is going to go.

1. Calendar and weather at breakfast (including graphing how many days of each weather per month).

2. Fine motor skills through dressing and undressing stuffed friends.

3. Library storytime for listening to and following directions from someone other than a parent as well as paying attention in a group setting.

4. Baking cupcakes for practical life (measuring, mixing, following directions).

5. Arts and crafts through decorating for our Not-Back-to-School Party.

6. Academics:

a. Writing -- finishing up our preschool handwriting workbook and preparing to move into the Kindergarten one.

b. Reading -- done with Kindergarten level Hooked on Phonics and moving into first grade level phonics, reviewing sight words and word families, reading lots of early reader books.

c. Math -- halfway through Kindergarten level RightStart (level A), working on mental math such as breaking a number into parts (what are all the parts of 4? 5? 8?) and the concept of getting change for a purchase.

I know that homeschooling isn't for everyone. I know that logistics or finances or simple preference mean that we're in a small minority. But I feel very lucky and oh so happy that we've been able to make this work. It really feels like the right choice for our family, and as Nugget gets older and into real school age, I'm more and more sure that I want her home with our family.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I love the ability to "do school" anywhere. We had about a 45 minute drive home from a playdate the other day. Just a few minutes into the drive, Nugget started figuring out and talking about various addition facts (up to 5). So I picked the thread up and we chatted about those for a while. Then we moved on to the 5+x facts that RightStart Math emphasizes. We made a little game out of both. Then we reviewed odds and evens, then Nugget decided to count to 100. THREE TIMES. By the time she'd finished that, we were almost home -- and math was done for the day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

In a rhythm

We've settled into a really nice rhythm for the last month or so. I've been quiet because, although this is working really well for us, it isn't the creative sort of homeschooling that makes for good blogging. I thought I'd share where we are right now, anyway.

The way we've worked homeschool time into our schedule is during Sprout's nap. He goes down just before lunch these days; Nugget and I eat together and usually start working toward the end of our meal. We get homeschool time in nearly every day; I'd say we miss 1-2 days a week because of being out-and-about or deciding to curl up with a chapter book instead. But we don't take official days off -- if we're home and in the mood, we do work, even on the weekends.

We're still focusing on the three main subjects. In reading, we're at lesson 60 or so in "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons", and we're about to start Unit 4 of the Moffat Girls' phonics program. Nugget reads through the stories in "TYCtR" without difficulty, and when encouraged, can read through beginning reader books. But, oddly enough, she still hasn't taken off into reading. She still LOVES to be read to and loves to sit and look at books to herself, but she has to be encouraged to actually read something. I figure things will just click someday, and we'll keep going through these programs as long as she's enjoying them and they aren't stressing her out.

In math, we're chugging through Level A of RightStart Math. I'm loving how this is done, and Nugget is picking it up really, really well. She's having a bit of a hard time with the geometry, strangely enough, but the number work is falling into place really quickly.

And Handwriting Without Tears is always a favorite. We're nearly done with that, in fact -- another week or so to go. I'm not sure what we'll do when that's done; whether we'll move into the Kindergarten version or take some more time to refine her fine motor. She's doing a LOT of writing in her daily life now -- labeling her drawings, writing cards to people -- and I love seeing her practice reflected in her play.
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