I realize it’s only week one of our homeschool adventure. But honestly, with two other little ones who I was sure would be underfoot the second I tried to work with the older kids, I had low expectations for the week and figured we’d spend a while working kinks out and finding a groove. While we will undoubtedly still do that, I have been blown away by what an incredible week this has been.
In shifting mindsets and really embracing the idea of learning at home and learning all the time (which has been a process for the past year), I knew that come fall I would need to intentionally set aside most other things to focus on homeschooling. I even deleted my facebook account because I wasn’t disciplined enough to not spend more time on there than I should. With our new organization plan in place and having been able to spend the money to get the curriculum and supplies that I wanted and ultimately knowing that this was what God was asking our family to do, I felt armed and ready.
I adore reading posts about what people are using in their homes to teach their children and I have several friends just starting in the same journey. So here’s what we’re doing this year (Part I):
We are using Five in a Row for the base of our learning. It is a rich program, one that I was instantly drawn to when I heard about it. I agonized over several other options but this one seemed to fit best. It is based in literature and for one week, the children are immersed in a classic story. They experience all the angles and aspects of the story, the manual gives direction and ideas and I am free to do as many or as few as I would like each week.
The books are classic, many are old fashioned, they include vocabulary words that no one uses anymore, they are beautiful, timelss, inspiring stories that open the door for so much possibility it completely blew me away this week as we began our Five in a Row journey. My sister (a teacher) has always said that repetition is hugely important in teaching young children. At first Rylee thought it was strange that we’d read the same story every day. But as we did, the kids anticipated the next pages and finished my sentences and saw different things in the book as we read it again and again.
Monday we snuggled on the couch to read The Story of Ping, written in 1933, which takes place in China. We then ran to the map, pointed out China and the Yangze river where the whole story unfolds. We talked about distance and maps and used our fingers to measure different spans across the world. We talked about consequences and what happens when we try to get out of them. The kids made all kinds of observations about the different culture that the book portrayed.
As the week went on, life took a theme of its own and after we enjoyed the learning activities given as ideas from the book. The hours of free play for imagination and creativity were filled with new things that stemmed from our learning about China, houseboats, boat boys and a family of ducks that lived on the Yangtze River. We went on a walk to a duck pond and brought bread and made trails for the ducks to follow us like Ping does in the story. We experimented with what would float in the river by making lists of things that sink and things that float and talked about why.
I honestly don’t even think the kids had a clue we were ‘in school’ most of the time, truly neither did I. We just had ridiculous amounts of fun together, learned all kinds of new things and enjoyed each other more than we have in a long time. The structure and routine was so good for all of us. And after we completed our ‘tasks’ the kids had ample time to be kids. To run, to make messes in the yard, to sing loudly, to make cookies with mama, to take naps when they needed, to make beautiful artwork and so on…
A few weeks ago I wondered if we were doing the right thing. I was nervous and tired and a little afraid. I know we’ll have hard days and weeks but this week has been such confirmation that we’re doing what we’re supposed to for our little family. I am so thankful.