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Our Home School Space 2012-2013

I don’t have a “school room” like I have seen on a lot of blogs… our home school space is at our dining room table. Right now that is the space we have and we will make it work joyfully! After seeing some amazing home school spaces outfitted with everything matching and everything IKEA and everything oh-so-perfect, I was hesitant to post my simple space, but none of that extra “stuff” is necessary for children to be successful students. I am noticing that it is easy to become overwhelmed and guilty in the homeschooling crowd… I’m gonna need the Lord to keep reminding me of my purpose in homeschooling– to please Him!

So here it is… our school space:

Our home school space/dining room

Calendar/Snap Words– I’m sure more and more will make it to this wall as Ladybug progresses through school!

Easily accessible school supplies/books. I have other school stuff and books throughout the house, but these are the things we need to put on hands on quickly/frequently.

Another view

We live on the 7th floor, and our home school space has a killer view!

Not Back to School Blog Hop

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2012-2013 Home School Year

Last fall, I was wistfully beginning our last non-school year. This year, it’s time for Kindergarten. This will be an interesting school year for Ladybug. We will be home schooling August through December for half the day and she will attend a local kindergarten for the other half of the day. In December we will arrive in the States for a six month stay, so she will attend the public school where I used to teach second grade to finish out her Kindergarten career. (Whew! Transition much?)

I have had some questions from friends about what curriculum/materials we will be using, so I wanted to share what we will be trying out this fall. (It will also be nice for me to be able to look back in future years for planning/reminiscing purposes!) Since Ladybug will also attend a local school, we will only be focusing on Reading and Math this year for home school. Even though I am certified to teach K-6, I have had frequent moments of feeling so overwhelmed about home school– can I really do this? Am I going to royally screw up my kids? Where do I even begin?

The beginning of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) has really helped me with these questions, and has even inspired me for home schooling. It has been encouraging to be reminded that I am the best teacher for my children, and I can afford them opportunities through home schooling that public school could never give. The rest of my choices for curriculum come highly recommended from multiple sources. If you are looking for a curriculum for your home school, I think the best research is talking to moms who are similar to you. Ask a ton of questions, ask to browse their bookshelves so you can see teacher guides and workbooks up close, and pray– the Lord will guide and direct even your home school decisions if you seek Him!

For a few weeks now, Ladybug and I have been steadily working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It is so easy! Everything is spelled out for me, and all the “materials” are right there inside the book. Ladybug has been so excited to start reading, and she is doing a great job! The lessons are the perfect length to hold her attention, on a good day, we can get through two lessons without a problem. (Ladybug knows all her letter sounds from watching LeapFrog: Letter Factory! I highly recommend it! They love the catchy songs, and even my three-year old knows all his letters after only watching it a handful of times.)

Once Ladybug had gone over a few letter sounds in 100 Lessons, I started giving her Bob Books to read for “homework” to her dad (or her grandparents or aunts on Skype!) They are simple little beginning readers, and it’s fun for her to be able to read a whole book! I think it encourages her that she is reading!

(The above listed home school stuff is the stuff I have actually tried/used some already, the rest is what is in my house waiting for August 25… or whatever day we decide to start our 2012-2013 school year!)

Right Start Math

Handwriting Without Tears (Letters and Numbers for Me)

Five in a Row (Volume 1)

Heroes for Young Readers

I also have some assorted things for creating some Math and Literacy centers: alphabet stamps, letter tiles, pattern blocks, games/activities inspired by my Homeschool Pinterest Board. I plan to create centers that Stinkbug can participate in as well, though I haven’t figured out how centers will work at home– I did center-time everyday when I taught, but rotating 2 kids through centers will be different from rotating 20 kids! If you have done something like centers for your elementary kids at home, I’d love to hear about it!

What kind of school year are you gearing up for? Do you home school? Do you do a combination of types of school like us?


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Almost School Time

It’s that time of the year again. Backpacks are being stuffed with unsharpened pencils and brand new notebooks. Kids are boarding big yellow buses. Home-school moms are filling in plan books. Homework is being assigned.  It’s back to school everyone goes.

Except us.

This is the last September that I won’t have a school-aged child. Next September it will be time for Ladybug to start kindergarten, and not too far behind will follow Stinkbug and then Doodlebug! Home-school, charter school, private school, public school– it doesn’t matter what kind of school we do, it will be time to do school of some sort.

I had been stressing about choosing some curriculum, some plan, some format for home-school preschool this year. I want to maximize the time I have  with my little ones. My blog reader and Facebook feed are full of excellent time managers planning and executing preschool at home for their little ones…and I felt like I should be doing something.

And then I looked at our life…

…at the white daisies we wondered if we could change colors…

…at the avocado seeds we wondered if we could grow into trees…

…at the ordering and pasting we did with whales after a trip to the beach…

…at the coloring by number and initial letter sounding we did because the Bugs are into letter sounds (Thanks Leapfrog videos!)…

…at the reading and preparing mom and dad are doing for nightly family worship times…

…and I realized that I may not have Sonlight’s 4/5 curriculum (or any “curriculum”!) to follow this year, but I don’t need it! We have shelves full of books, a cabinet full of art supplies, and a world full of mysteries at our fingertips!

So I might not plan our home-school preschool in a teacher’s plan book. I may not even call what we’re doing “school”. And I certainly won’t work myself into a frenzy about what I’m doing or not doing to school the Bugs this year.

Instead, I’m going to listen to my children’s questions and help them find the answers. I’m going to read aloud. We’re going to the zoo and the beach and the weekly bazaar, and maybe a farm. We’ll ride taxis, buses, trains, possibly even an airplane. We’ll talk about colors and numbers and shapes and letters. We’ll write and we’ll color, we’ll cut and we’ll glue. And we’ll soak up every minute of this last year before a new chapter begins. The chapter of “Schooling” and all that comes along with that.

For now though I think I’ll pour myself another iced coffee and enjoy the sounds of the kids playing their imaginative games.


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Thank You Notes

My mom cursed blessed me by always making me write thank you notes when I was a child.  Nowadays I still hear her voice when I receive a gift, “Don’t forget to write a thank you!”

It is a dying art.  And nothing says Thank You quite like a handwritten, thoughtful note.  I want to instill in my kids a sense of gratitude and the ability to properly express thanks to someone who has given them a gift.  So, the best time to work on this is… January.

January, what a dull month!  The Christmas decor is packed away, the winter doldrums are upon us, and we have plenty of time to write thank you notes for the nice Christmas gifts we opened last month.  OK, you may not feel like you have plenty of time to write thank yous, but let’s face it, if you don’t write them this month, it’s probably not going to happen!  Here are some ways to get your children to write notes, even if they can’t yet write their own name!

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Print out a picture for your child to color, write a simple message for them, their name, and the date.  (If your child can write their own name, let them add their name to the drawing.)
  • Give your child some blank paper and art mediums– stickers, glitter, markers, paints, crayons– and let them create a little masterpiece.  Write a simple message their name, and the date for them.
  • Print a picture of your child using/wearing the gift received and mail it to the sender.  Write a brief message on the back stating your thanks.

School-Aged Children

  • Create a simple fill-in-the-blank generic thank you note for your child to fill in.  (This not only teaches them to write thank you notes, it helps them learn the proper way to write a letter!)  Add a picture for them to color if you would like.

______/_______/_______

Dear ______________________________,

Thank you for the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________ you gave me for Christmas.  I like it because _____________

_____________________________________.  I hope you had a very merry Christmas!

Love,

____________

  • If your school-aged child is a little older, buy (or help them make thank you cards), and encourage them to write a brief message of thanks for the gift.  The note doesn’t have to be long, just an expression of appreciation for the gift! Let them use special glitter pens or markers or stickers– let writing thank yous be a fun activity, not a dreaded chore!

Do you always write a thank you note for gifts you receive?