Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Homeschooling Part 1: Goals and Preschool

     In the past this blog was about design and DIY's and projects and headbands. I quit blogging shortly after I had Luca, my third child,  because it wasn't how I wanted to spend my free time.  And I didn't want to constantly be thinking about blogging or my business when the most important thing for me was to focus on my little guys. I know this time is fleeting and I didn't want to have regrets. (Instead I painted, sewed, and read books... without feeling like I had to BLOG about it!)

    My kids are still small, but I am now homeschooling and have had so many questions over the past 2 years that I figured a few blog posts would be the best place to refer people to for answers! Who knows, maybe I'll want to blog again. I am passionate about homeschooling and love helping others that want to try it out so I hope these posts help someone.

First off: How we started.

I didn't know exactly how I wanted to homeschool when I started my oldest daughter in pre-k 4. My main thoughts and goals for homeschooling my children then and now have been as follows:

I want my children to LOVE learning always and forever.


I want my children to have close relationships with one another and with my husband and I.

I want my children to be challenged and to be able to explore their interests and ideas to the fullest, and I wanted to show them how.


I want my children to be confident, well-adjusted, fun, and a little nerdy. 


I want them to love books.


Is that so much to ask? I know, I know, you can't ensure any of those things in life for other people. But I will know I tried my hardest to make it happen at the end of all this! And I have not ruled out ever sending my kids to school. I don't think schools are evil or that homeschooling is the only solution. I think it is a great solution for my kids at this time in our lives, and I'd love for it to continue until they go to college.

For Pre-k I bought a few things to get started.
 Get Ready for the Code (we breezed through books A,B, and C because she already knew the sounds of the alphabet) and then started with Explode the Code Book 1

I think these are great because they have the kids do lots of different visual exercises to see if they know the sounds of the letters. They also practice handwriting. With my second daughter we have also been loving this book for preschool. I made my own set of the shapes for making letters (Handwriting Without Tears). We also practiced letter and number writing on chalk and slate boards, and with our fingers in sugar and yogurt.

For math and numbers I used some books my mom passed onto me (she homeschooled my youngest brother who is 18 years younger than me for a few years). We mostly did math with her dolls and duplos though. Oh and food. She loved counting and adding food (and so does her sister currently).

Above you can see from my instagram feed, a photo of some things we did with duplos. She graphed objects around the house, she did fractions, and solved equations. On the right is a sample of how I planned a week of school (sometimes-- I wasn't always this organized last year). I wanted preschool to be about what she was interested in. So I would ask her what she wanted to learn about that week (often we got ideas after reading or watching something) and we'd go to the library and check out lots of books on the subject. Then I'd come up with little projects to do as well and occasionally find a documentary. It was fun and laid back. My 2.5 year old would join us when she felt like it. My baby slept (we did "school" during his nap). Off the top of my head here are a few subjects we explored: Killer whales, dolphins, deep sea creatures, sea slugs, animal classification, microscopes, factories, food groups/nutrition, the human body, fish, bats, foxes (after loving the song "what does the fox say" we checked out and read every.single.book. on foxes from the library system in our county), weather, costa rica, rocks, and arctic animals. I learned so much myself! One of the perks of homeschooling is relearning things you'd long since forgotten, or perhaps never knew.

(ABOVE PHOTOS FROM PRE-K): We got memberships to museums and living history places. We studied the human body and made our own. We learned math and engineering concepts by building large structures with these blocks. We studied and then dissected fish (very cheap from a fish market!). I gave her the challenge of making a drawing solely out of squares, rectangles, triangles and circles.

For art, I made sure I had good supplies (as in quality paper and paints) for them to use. I'd usually just put out the supplies and collage materials (pom-poms, sequins, feathers, popcicle sticks) and let them have at it. I really dislike teacher-led art projects with a specified result in mind. Perhaps that's good for teaching something else, but not creativity. This year I took a different approach and put out the supplies so that they can be used at any time (except tempera paints and other messier things that I need to monitor). We always have out tapes, glues, collage materials, pipe cleaners, watercolors and brushes, crayons, washable markers, colored pencils, pom-poms, and a giant roll of white butcher paper ($10-15 at costco or sams).

Perler Beads are great for practicing fine motor skills! And they take lots of patience.

We sometimes worked out of this awesome preschool daily notebook from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  This year I have A kindergartener and a 3 1/2 year old (and 2 year old) who wants to do school when big sister does it. I use that notebook but I also added in pages from various pre-k workbooks I owned. She loves "doing her school" notebook. We also use the Handwriting Without Tears book I mentioned above. Next year I will use the "Get Ready for the Code" with her since she is still learning the alphabet and numbers more thoroughly this year.

Here is my homeschool: preschool board where I pin lots of ideas to use for this age! Ive used many already.

Books to inspire your teaching:
The Well-trained mind- I don't follow this exactly but liked alot of her ideas and she makes great school-age curriculum.
Teaching in Your Tiara - great for people who are scared of homeschooling and don't know where to start!

Great Homeschooling blogs:
Creative Homeschool- lots of freebies!!
Confessions of a Homeschooler - freebies, posts about how she homeschools, and curriculum she's written that you can print out in the comfort of your home!
Wildflower Ramblings- she's also a teacher turned homeschooler (there's lots of us out there!) who does a lot of montessori and Reggio-inspired activities.
No Time for Flashcards- great source for preschool ideas
Mom at Home- montessori ideas
Mud Hut Momma- I think she has great ideas out there in the Bush of Africa!
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers- I mean the name says it all. Love this blog.
 There are a MILLION-and ONE homeschool and teacher blogs out there you could read, but those should get your started!
 (Also everyone always says, "oh but homeschooling.... your child wont get socialized!" It makes me want to laugh and say rude things, but I usually hold my breath. Oh darn, so my kids wont learn about condoms and the "f" word in kindergarten? They won't have boys telling them they want to have sex with them and pinching their butts in fourth grade? They won't have all the girls in their class leave them out intentionally so their self-esteem lowers gradually over the years? They won't have a teacher squash their creativity and tell them people don't have purple hair? DARN! (Those are true stories of people I know and love.) They will have chances to socialize. At church, at homeschool playgroups and outings, in the myriad classes offered to homeschoolers everywhere, and with neighbors. I mean come on. Also, kids usually only turn out as weird as their parents. And I hope mine are as nice and weird as me!

If you have more questions about things I wrote in this post please leave it in the comments as it will help me in writing more posts.

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