This is our 5th Full Year of Homeschooling – and every year, I love it more. (I had to count how long we’ve been doing it because I can’t really remember life before it! Ha! I started officially homeschooling Paprika in 1st grade, and she would now be in 5th Grade in our local public schools, based on her birthday.)
I don’t think that homeschooling is for everyone – but it is awesome for some people. I love it – and honestly feel like I was born to do it. It’s so fun to me. I think it’s kind of like how some people are marathon runners. I don’t want to run a marathon, and I don’t envision myself ever running one. But some people love it – and more power to them! That’s how I feel about homeschooling.
Every year, we add more things to the curricula. My goal in all of this has been to teach the girls how to learn, and to accept intellectual challenges and frustration with enthusiasm. I want them to know how to discover things for themselves, to be independent thinkers, to question often, to find their passions and pursue them with vigor, develop strong and disciplined work ethics, to have humility and also confidence in their abilities, and to solve problems creatively and efficiently, etc.
There’s a lot more than that I hope to achieve in our learning, but that’s a small start of it. I would say I’m an early adopter of A LOT of homeschool curricula, just because I love seeing what the newest thing is – and trying it out. If I were a cyclist, I’d be a gearhead, right? But I’m a homeschooler, so I’m a curricula-head…errrr, or something like that.
I’ve quickly learned that the most expensive curricula is often not the best, and some of the most tried and true educational methods are available for free or very low cost – through the library, internet, or other resources.
For example, this year, Paprika (11) and Ginger (8) are both doing Swift Playgrounds on the iPad. It’s a coding curriculum developed by Apple and it’s FREE! I can’t tell you how many computer coding books and online programs we’ve used in the past – and nothing is as good as this simple, free program!
It’s a little too advanced for Violet (5) – but it’s great for older kids, and even adults! Ginger (8) is very skilled at it – and she able to understand it on her own very quickly and work through the lessons like she’s skipping rope. Paprika (11) is working her way through it lesson by lesson, and I wouldn’t say she LOVES it. Still, she keeps at it – and little by little, she’s learning to code!
Another fun thing we’re doing this year is our “word of the day.” This is something that’s just a hoot for the whole family. Basically, I bought a vocabulary desk calendar (2018 because that’s what was on sale at the time). We tape a new word up on the fridge every day, and then we all try to use the word as often as possible, all day long. Even Ellie (age 2) does it with us!
Then, after the day is done, we add the word to the stack of other words we have learned. We can quiz each other or play guessing games with old days’ words, etc. We started back in August with this – so we have a nice stack of words! Next year (2018 for real), we’ll keep going with the calendar until we get to August – at which point, I’ll just get a 2019 calendar. 🙂
You know I’m crazy about Math – I’ve used pretty much every curriculum available to teach math to the girls. Nothing has been a perfect fit for us. We used Teaching Textbooks for quite some time, but now that Paprika (11) is in Algebra, I found it wasn’t working as well for us anymore (just us personally, no offense to the company).
Anyhoo – I decided to do the low cost option and went to Amazon and bought some used high school math textbooks. I treated myself and bought the Teacher’s Edition, too! What a treat for me! (I’ve never done that before.) I think Paprika’s textbook was $5 including shipping, and my teacher’s edition was $8. So, for $13 I have an Algebra course I can use for all four kids if I want, and I can also resell (or give away).
So far, it’s working out GREAT. We sit in Paprika’s room (where it’s very quiet) and work on math together for about 30-40 minutes/day. Then, she has independent practice for about 10-15 minutes/day.
This way, I can make sure she’s really getting it – and explain things in a way that makes sense to her brain. Since Paprika has Asperger Syndrome (aka autism) – teaching her can sometimes be like speaking a foreign language. (Not in a bad way – she just thinks very differently.)
Ginger (8) is also doing a regular ole’ math textbook this year (Pre-Algebra), and she’s also doing Teaching Textbooks Grade 7 on her own (just because she likes it). Violet is doing Math Seeds, Splash Math, a few other math apps, and that’s it for now. Now that she’s six, we’ll probably start on 3rd grade Teaching Textbooks (because we already own it) – and we’ll see how she does. Paprika and Ginger both started 3rd Grade math when they turned six, so it will probably be okay. If not, then we’ll wait. That’s the beauty of homeschooling!
I count myself super lucky that the girls LOVE to read. Paprika (11) loves fantasy and science fiction. Her favorite series are: Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Land of Stories, Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, and A Wrinkle in Time. Ginger (8) loves historical fiction and books about nature and survival. Her favorite authors are Jack London, Scott O’Dell, E.B. White, and Wilson Rawls (Where The Red Fern Grows). Violet (newly 6!) loves children’s classics like Frog and Toad, Bread and Jam for Frances, the LadyBug Girl series and of course – Minecraft books. Ellie (2) loves just about anything, as long as it’s got great illustrations or photos. We have A LOT of books – and by the end of the day, Ellie’s usually sitting in a big pile of them. Ha!
We’ve been experimenting with more classes. I finally found Paprika (11) an art class that’s focused on actual teaching. It’s very positive and also instructive.
This is the bee she made last week in her class. I took a quick picture of it because it’s so darn cute (IMO). The important thing is that she loves art, and it’s a real joy and release for her.
In between shuttling Violet to gymnastics, Paprika to art and violin – and bringing them all to piano lessons – I got Daisy groomed! 🙂 It was about time. Maybe our next homeschooling lesson will be how to groom a very furry Goldendoodle. I’ve tried, and trust me, that would be an advanced course! Haha.
Anyway, doesn’t she look pretty? 🙂
Ginger (8) is a self-directed learner, and she enjoys figuring things out by herself. Her stubborn personality makes her difficult to “teach.” I’ve been very easy on her for a long time – first because she was so sick…and now because she has chronic health issues that still make her very tired and weak at times. She’s doing so much better now that she has her endocrinology team, dietary changes, and good meds!
Still, I tend to take a supportive role with her in her education and not “push” her – because she pushes herself very hard. She is a perfectionist, prone to frustration, and expects a very high level of performance from herself. I basically give her the tools she needs to learn, and then stand by for questions.
Whenever I try to “teach” her something, she inevitably comes back to me and says: I already know that, MOM. 🙂 In addition to books and learning apps (she especially loves her college anatomy app) – she can’t get enough of TedEd videos, BBC documentaries, and her guilty pleasure – British cooking shows! 🙂
Ellie (2) is learning every day. She is bold, vocal, and believes she is the QUEEN of the house. 🙂 . She is excellent at figuring things out, and she is very hands-on. For example, yesterday she waxed the hardwood floors with deodorant (it was white and slippery!) – and also stuffed rolls of toilet paper into both bathroom toilets until they both flooded! In other words, she is up to mischief and must be managed. Haha! She is so sweet, though – and full of life. She always has good intentions, and her favorite thing is to stir things up. She loves playing with her big sisters – and she is still such a cuddle bug. At almost 3, I am slowly weaning her from her addiction: mookie! (Her word for nursing). She is very attached to it – but after 11+ years of constant nursing, I am ready for a break. Easier said than done, but we’re getting there.
So, that’s a little snapshot of things in our homeschool right now. Every day, it’s something new! Oh, and Violet is back to learning violin but wants to take a “relaxed” approach this time. So, I get serenaded often in my bedroom…it’s a treat! 🙂
I love that the girls love learning, and I feel honored to be their partner in it. 🙂 . We have so much fun, and I’m constantly on the lookout for new things to add, and new experiences for them. It’s one great adventure, and I’m grateful to be on it with them…