Following my teacher-husband’s schedule so that we can be off when he’s off, we started school last Thursday (September 1st). In previous years, we have hit the ground running at full speed, working through our curricula like Olympian athletes training for the big day. While we certainly get an A for effort, I’ve found that we start feeling burnt out a little too soon. This year, we decided on a “soft” start, which basically entails getting to know our curricula and getting work done without stressing about keeping on a tight schedule quite yet. In chronically our journey, I’ve been taking note of things that quickly slip out of memory yet are so memorable. I even began an Excel file to jot down daily notes. These tidbits are nothing life-shattering, but give a glimpse into the daily life of homeschooling, and the moments that make it all worth it.
This year, my little one (3rd grade) is doing something new. We’re doing math all on the computer! It’s a combination of Teaching Textbooks (so far, we both love it!) and Prodigy Math for fun (math practice interspersed with a game involving earning pets and designing your own world). The ease of Teaching Textbooks is awesome (kids watch a video lesson, do problems on the computer, and you get a score and notations of problem areas). Prodigy is just plain addicting, she loves answering “just one more” question to get to the next level in the game.
Listening to my kids’ daily practice of piano has me in constant awe. They’ve been taking lessons for 4 1/2 years, and have far surpassed the piano skills I acquired years ago. My mother-in-law is a musician who has passed her love of piano onto my girls, and they are so fortunate to study with her. When they sit down and play, not because I tell them to but because they want to get a piece just right, my heart smiles.
After a few hours of focus yesterday, we were seriously in need of a break. I leashed up the dog, my girls got on their rollerblades, and we went out for some fresh air. The ability to recharge with physical activity is so, so important, especially for children. They skated along, we chatted, and enjoyed the time together. The funniest moment was when a neighbor drove by, rolled down his window and asked, “Playing hooky, girls?” My little one replied, “We’re homeschooled, this is recess!” and he chuckled. It may look funny to see school-aged kids outside “playing” in the middle of the day, but I promise you, they’re learning.
We have two kittens and a dog. The kittens love to stretch out across schoolwork and nap. The dog will curl up in one of the girls’ laps, or at their feet, or next to them on the couch. How soothing is it to have a kitten curled up with you as you tackle math, or read a book with your arm slung around the dog. Sometimes on a break, the dog will suddenly be guided through a homemade obstacle course, or I find him wearing dress up clothes. Learning with the pets around is peaceful, fun, and really speaks to kids.
We were deep in school-mode the other day when I got a text from my mom that she and my Dad were in the area. They came over for lunch, and the next thing I knew, both girls had gotten out their foreign language notebooks and were dazzling my parents with their new knowledge. After lunch it was time to get back to work, so my little one worked with Grandma on spelling, while my older daughter sat down with Grandpa and powered through Math. Priceless. (I even got to load the dishwasher and vaccum during this. Double bonus).
Choose Your Own Adventure
For the first time, we’re taking a Not-Back-School-Trip. Friends of ours took advantage of a Great Wolf Lodge special for homeschoolers, nabbing gorgeous rooms and waterpark passes at a fraction of the typical cost. Having extra space, they invited us along. This meant missing a Wednesday and Thursday of school, what to do? I talked to the kids and we agreed to make it work. A little school was done on the weekend, some easy things were packed for the car, and we were a go. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can arrange your schedule to your convenience, taking advantage of downtime on evenings or weekends, thus leaving daytime free for adventures. Yay!
So winds down the end of our first official week. Thanks for coming along with us, and please share your adventures with our readers, below!