I can’t believe we are starting our THIRD year of homeschooling! It seems like just yesterday that we made the decision to pull Paprika out of public school – and here we are now!
Homeschooling has led to some big changes in our family that I couldn’t have foreseen before we started. First, we were able to buy a house because of homeschooling! Our old neighborhood (where we rented) was known for its excellent schools – and the very high real estate prices reflected that. We were able to buy a house in a nearby area for half the cost of our old neighborhood – a decision I wouldn’t have made if we’d stayed in public school.
Of course, there have been so many other blessings to homeschooling: the friends we’ve made, the schedule flexibility (Mr. M’s days off work are often during the week), and the ability to tailor the curricula to each child’s needs. We’ve had another baby since we started homeschooling (yay Ellie!) – and it’s been wonderful having the flexibility to do school work around her napping and sleep schedule. It’s all been very positive – and I’m really grateful to have the freedom to homeschool!
This post is mostly for me to look back on – so if it bores anybody to tears, I’m sorry about that! Haha
Here is what we’re up to in our homeschool world:
1) We Homeschool Year-Round:
We’ve been homeschooling year-round since we started in July 2013. I was actually homeschooling Paprika for a few years before that because she was academically advanced, and she learned nothing in school. (Not joking). We do school work every day, including weekends (and especially weekends if Mr. M is working on Saturday/Sunday). We do school work during the summer, and all year long. The only official breaks we take are major holidays (Christmas, Easter, 4th of July), birthdays, and when we are visiting family!
2) We Have Core Subjects That Are Non-Negotiable:
Since we are homeschooling every day, I really focus on core subjects – and the rest, I don’t do every day. Right now, our every day subjects are: Math, Reading, Piano. They are non-negotiable, and no matter how much someone doesn’t want to do something (haha) those subjects are as regular as brushing your teeth.
Other subjects like handwriting, history, science, etc. – we do a few days/week and I tend to let them study those subjects as the passion arises for them. We do a lot of creative art projects, and I always have LOTS of art supplies open and available for them to use. Ours is a creative home. 🙂
3) Family Read-Aloud Time Every Day:
We read aloud for an hour (at least) before bedtime. Right now, we’re working our way through the entire Harry Potter series. We’re on Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix (Book 5). This has led to Harry Potter fever in our house (haha). I am trying to figure out what our next read-aloud series will be – I am thinking it might be Percy Jackson – but I’ll have to read the first one before we start to make sure!
Read aloud time is the girls’ favorite activity – and they never want to miss it. They all pile in the bed, and usually their dad reads aloud to us, which is a great family bonding experience.
Here’s what I have planned specifically for each child:
Paprika (3rd Grade, Age 8):
Paprika LOVES story-telling and reading. She could read books all day long and tell herself stories and never get bored. There are never enough books for Paprika, and she reads and tells her stories in all her free-time. She gets so wrapped up in her stories, that if you interrupt her, she gets upset.
Paprika’s reading comprehension is 10th/11th grade – so she is able to read most things with ease. She loves fiction the most, and she reads A LOT of non-fiction, too! She knows more about science and health and astronomy and history, and well…everything…than I do at this point! 😉 I provide her with lots of books, and apps, and she devours them all.
I have her do math and piano every day. She’s not a fan of math or piano, and it takes a lot of prodding for her to do them. But sometimes it’s good to have the discipline to do things you don’t want to do. She ALWAYS says to me: Math is NOT my Passion! Telling stories is my passion! How can you keep me from my passion?!
Even though math is not her passion, she is in 6th Grade Math (Teaching Textbooks) and breezing through it. I predict she’ll be in 7th grade math by Halloween. I’m thinking she’ll probably do 6th, 7th, and some of 8th grade Math by this time next year.
She is clipping along in piano and playing lots of classical music. Her favorite musician is Beethoven! She loves playing Nancy Drew video games on the computer, and she recently downloaded the sheet music to learn to play the themes in the game.
She loves art and drawing, and she takes lots of online art classes. She loves online/video art classes because she can stop, rewind, and re-play them as she’s drawing. She illustrates her stories, and I find dozens of her doodles and art projects scattered around the house on a daily basis. I’m keeping a lot of her artwork, so you can imagine the stacks I have! 🙂
Paprika loves our homeschool group and has made lots of friends. She is open to doing any and all the activities they plan. We meet up with the homeschool group several times/week – and we do everything from chess club to chapter book club to camping trips to weekly park playdates. There’s always something going on…next up, we’re doing a 4 week Sewing Class together!
Paprika with a friend on the Homeschooling Camping Trip:
This Year’s Academic Goals for Paprika:
Teaching Textbooks Math, Grades 6, 7, and 8
Reading Historical Fiction and Science books 4x/week
Practice Piano every day for 30-45 minutes; 45 min. piano lesson 1x/week
Handwriting and Spelling 4x/week (Spelling You See, Handwriting Without Tears)
Spanish 3x/week with Homeschool Spanish Academy (online Skype with native speaker)
Physical activity every day – bike riding, park time, etc.
Become a fluent typist (to help with writing her stories)
Ginger (Grade 1, Age 6):
Ginger is now officially homeschooling! 🙂 She is fun and bright, and very headstrong and sensitive. She is eager to please, and yet she will ONLY do something if she wants to do it. She is my iron-willed child. I love her quiet strength, and I am learning how to use her own drive and passion in her homeschooling. Ginger is a lot like a cat. Everything has to be HER idea. Ha!
Ginger started taking piano lessons this summer – and she LOVES it! She loves practicing on her own, and she is quickly becoming her teacher’s favorite student. She always wants more piano, and she told her teacher at this week’s lesson that she wanted to do all the piano books and never stop. She is very driven!
Ginger draws and writes cards and letters on a daily basis – which I am counting as her handwriting and spelling. She is always asking me how to spell things, and she will write the most beautiful cards and letters. She also ALWAYS asks me what words mean – all day long! I use a lot of big words around my kids (having taken so many tests over the years – the SAT, GRE, LSAT, and the CA Bar Exam) – I know LOTS of big words. Ha! I use these big words all the time, and Ginger will stop me if she doesn’t understand a word and ask me to define it and use it in a sentence. Needless to say, her vocabulary is getting big!
Ginger’s 6th Birthday at Adventure City:
Ginger is finishing up 3rd Grade Math, and she will start 4th Grade soon. I know she could go a lot further in Math, but honestly, I just don’t have the time right now to sit with her for as long as she’d like to do math. I am doing my best, but this is one area where I feel like I could really improve.
Ginger is an excellent reader and she reads/comprehends at 6th/7th grade level. She loves reading books aloud with me, and last week she read aloud an entire Nancy Drew book on her own in one day. Even so, she doesn’t really see “the point” in reading on her own. She likes to read aloud with me because she loves one on one time with me. Otherwise, she’d rather play outside than read a book any day of the week. She can read all directions, labels, warnings, etc. – and whenever we’re in public, she is always reading everything! This leads to some very interesting conversations. Ha!
Ginger loves to put together Lego sets, and she’s very hands-on in her learning. She’s not a fan of learning on the computer or tablet – which is a complete 180 from Paprika (who is a very visual learner). Ginger has a strong love of learning – she just wants me to sit down and do everything with her one on one. That is MY challenge more than hers!
I am very lucky in that Ginger learns everything VERY easily and she is also a very hard worker with a high frustration tolerance. She picks up concepts the very first time. I have no doubt she would be extremely bored in public school!
Ginger in her favorite place – at the top of a tree!:
Socially, Ginger is quiet and prefers just one or two close friends. She is sometimes slow to warm up to new people, but once you are inside her trusted circle, you are golden and can do no wrong. She is fiercely loyal, protective, and generous with her friends. She LOVES her sisters, and a few close friends – but she doesn’t really care for homeschool group the way Paprika does. She will not do book club (not interested) – but if there is something she IS interested in, she’ll participate gladly. For example, yesterday we had Chess Club and she LOVES chess – so she played happily for the entire afternoon with the other kids. 🙂
Academic Goals for Ginger:
3rd and 4th Grade Math (Teaching Textbooks)
Piano practice every day and 30 min. lesson 1x/week
Handwriting and Spelling 4x/week (Spelling You See, Handwriting Without Tears)
Read aloud science and history 4 x/week
Read aloud one chapter book/week
Violet (Age 3, Pre-K):
For Violet, I have no real homeschooling goals this year except to allow her to grow and have fun!
Violet is doing Reading Eggs right now and she can read Bob Books. She loves to be read to, so we read lots of picture books together daily. Her favorite series right now is: Ladybug Girl! She is convinced she is Ladybug Girl. 🙂
We bake together in the kitchen (which I count as math). She knows how to add/subtract numbers to 10, and so she is constantly counting and adding/subtracting things. She uses apps on the iPad for early learning. Violet loves to draw and paint – she paints every morning while I make her breakfast!
Violet is very physical, and she is always running and jumping off things! She is not a huge fan of homeschool group – even though there are lots of kids her age who participate. At homeschool group, she usually prefers to play with Ginger, me, or one of the other moms. Her best friend is her sister, Ginger, and all they do all day is PLAY. They have a beautiful friendship and Ginger is always teaching Violet things all day long.
Academic Goals for Violet:
Read lots of books together
Increase Reading Skills
Ellie (5 Months Old, Baby)
I know I’m forgetting a TON of things we do – because honestly, we have a lot that we do that I don’t even think about. Trips to the library, audio books we listen to in the car, all the field trips we go on, going to the beach, daily trips to the park – those are ALL part of homeschooling. So, this is just a little snapshot to some of the things we are up to and where we’re headed this next year in our homeschool adventure.
We have so much fun in our homeschool. I am looking forward to this next year as much as the kids are! It’s amazing to get to learn and grow alongside them. It’s a gift I never take for granted…
(Linking up here)