Homeschool #005 – Curriculum??

Tt turns 5 in January, so eager beaver me thinks “we’re homeschooling – why wait until September to “DO” Kindergarten?”. Why, indeed. Except what does that mean?

Today I was talking to an ex-K/gr.1 teacher and she revealed how amazingly low the bar is set for kids in Kindergarten. The goals have to be easy in order to be achieveable by everyone. SO, I figure I can’t do worse than almost nothing! It took a lot of pressure off.

Not that I was feeling like I have to be SUPERTEACHER for my boys, but I don’t want to miss something critical and as a result mess them up for life before Grade 1 (every beginning homeschooler’s nightmare I’m sure).


Now the question is WHAT to do for Kindergarten.
Most of the kids in one HS group we go to are “unschooled”, meaning they blow where the wind takes them. No, not quite. They feed off their kids own interests, which creates REAL (?) learning through a personal desire to learn something. Or something like that. I totally buy it. Makes a ton of sense, and as I’ve seen from Tt’s “learning” so far, sounds like he’s already on the right path (see previous Blog and Blog), and I really just need to stay the heck out of the way as much as possible.

“The task of the teacher is to create an environment
in which the student can learn”  – John Holt

Another HS group we have met with largely use “curriculum” from what I’ve gathered so far. They gather materials from places? (so far I’ve found this one – Sonlight) and actually teach their children, or as they get older, let their children even teach themselves. Not to say the kids’ interests aren’t taken into account at any given moment.


Let me just say that so far homeschooling mom’s (haven’t yet met a homeschooling Dad) are intimidatingly intelligent. I don’t think one has to be uber-intelligent in order to begin homeschooling, but definately after revisiting everything (of importance) you ever learned in school again and again for each kid, I’m sure you must end up real real smart. I’m excited to one day be a real real smart mom. With better grammar.


For Tt, I’m sure pure unschooling would be ideal – he is already learning better WITHOUT my input than WITH. If I had kept trying to make him color in coloring books, what I thought he SHOULD be learning, his natural ability to draw wouldn’t have surfaced until much later, long after his creative abilities had been squished by yours truly. BUT, for Momma… well, I need structure in order to feel comfortably able to be spontaneous.


So, off to research curriculum for Kindergarten. Yes, I’m aware of how odd that sounds. 5-yr olds should be doing nothing but playing, right?

My plan (I have oh, so many plans) is to do an hour of curriculum each day, and spend the rest of our time “unschooling” and playing the heck out of life. For Kindergarten, I’ve realized all that “Curriculum” really means is read, read, read. Help Tt recognize the sounds of letters, and read. We’ve ordered some books from Sonlight focused on reading about Cultures Around the World. And we’ll keep practicing writing our letters and numbers with our “Activity” (not “Work”) sheets.

I’ll let ya know how it goes.

Homeschool #004 – Handwriting

As we continue this homeschooling journey, there are the things I definately DO want to teach, things I definately DON’T want to teach, and then there are the things I may (or may not) already be teaching without even realizing it – somehow, them kids just LEARN !!

Going into this year I asked Tt “What would you like to learn about this year?” and he suggested he would like to learn about Knights (which naturally I took to also mean the entire Medieval era…). So I said “Oh, great! And how about this year you learn how to write out your name?”. No response. (which naturally I took to mean “Sure, Mom – sounds like a great idea!”).


About 10 minutes later he brought me this piece of paper below and said “Like this, Momma?”.


So, what am I even here for, again?

Wanting to keep him practicing, I’ve since been giving him “activity” sheets with letters, a cardboard cutout of each letter of the alphabet to decorate and so on, much to his “Awww, Mom, do I have to?” disdain. Any time I ask him to spell his name, all he writes is “Tt”, and if I ask him to write anything else, he’s simply not interested.

Not INTERESTED, however I have learned, does not in any way mean not CAPABLE. What I was missing was motivation. When he wanted some extra money in his tin bank for a toy, this was his crafty solution.



(He tried switching his empty “SPEND” jar with his full “INVEST” jar).

I was so impressed with his wit, I bought him a toy.

A day in the Life…

One of the advantages I’m hoping for with homeschooling is more quality family time.


Now to figure out what that means…


For now, it’s just extra time to hang out together. Specifically, it’s extra time with Daddy.


Since the boys don’t have to get up and rush out the door each morning, they can stay up a wee bit later in the evening to get some extra play time in w/ Daddy (and Momma, when I’m not working…).


In the morning Daddy gets the boys up and feeds them breakfast while Momma sleeps in after staying up to late working. Or blogging. Ok, I admit it.


We generally start our school “activities” at the table after breakfast, before there’s too much distraction by toys and videos and things to do. We try to get our activities, play groups, music, etc before Daddy gets home again.


Ahhhh. The relaxed life. I’m lovin’ it.


Homeschool #003 – Storytelling

Tt can’t read yet, doesn’t give a rats-ass (yes, that’s a real saying) (isn’t it?)  about the alphabet or the sounds letters make, but he does love to tell a story. So, for now, that’s what we do. The alphabet, reading, writing will all come in time (we do work on it, much to his reluctance), and when it does, boy the stories he’ll be able to tell with is own hand. We often start a story with some stickers or just a plain ole blank page, and go from there…

Here is one of his latest: (caution – many Star Wars references in this story) (and, well, most every story he tells…)

tayler story 1

Somehow I think even if I gave him stickers of cute little ladybugs and butterflies, he would turn it into a war. *sigh*. But, it still counts as “creative writing”, no??

Homeschool #002 – Coloring

I decided that if we’re going to learn at home, we will (hopefully!) use the time to focus on things that on really needs to know as an adult. Personal finances, people skills such as conflict resolution, basic psychology, how our body works and how to keep it healthy, how our environment works and how to keep it healthy, how a business works (because at some point they’ll either own one or work for one), public speaking, and so on. I have been told in the past that many of these topics aren’t focused on at any depth “at school” because they’re a parent’s responsibility. But what I have found with the girls is that when they spend 9.5 hrs getting ready, going to/from school and being there, plus another 2.5 – 3.5 hrs of homework, plus another 2-5 hrs of sports practices and games a day, “parent time” is virtually non-existent.

There are other things that I have learned I specifically do NOT want to teach the boys.

The first thing Tt taught me not to teach him was coloring. In lines. Preset by some coloring book manufacturer. (I think over time there will be a lot of things HE teaches ME to chill out on). For the past few years, every now + then, I would put a coloring book in front of Tt. He would kind of look at it, make a half-assed attempt at scribble, then go on to something else. I was starting to think “oh, no – he can’t color!”, but what I finally realized is that coloring books aren’t creative enough for him. I hear things like “what about his motor skills for using crayons?”. Not worried. Here is a coloring sheet I gave him a few months ago, and the second picture is what he did with the back of that same coloring sheet. It was the last coloring sheet I ever gave him.

I realized the following:

a. What adult does NOT know how to color in lines if he so chooses? He will learn this, if he cares to and whenever he needs to. (Although I suspect he knows how and just doesn’t see the point).

b. Clearly his motor skills are fine, and even I dare say far beyond what a coloring sheet can provide, when he can draw pretty much anything that “just comes out of my head, Momma”.

c. While coloring can be taught at any point, pure outta-my-head creativity is a far greater adventure that he simply may not be able to regain when he’s older and instructed “ok, now let’s learn to be creative!”

d. If he were in school, he would be getting a “D” in coloring, rather than a supportive “A” for creativity. (Yes, I know they don’t give out “D”‘s to pre-schoolers – I’m just making a point!).

He still gets coloring sheets placed in front of him at Music class. Here’s what he thinks of them. But ask him to draw music, and he’s all over it. That’s just him, and at home, he can be whoever he wants to be.

Now don’t even get me started on NOT teaching him to “follow the instructions” with his Lego! Not that he’d want to anyhow ;-).

Homeschool #001 – Here we go!

(Tt’s “school” picture – LOVE it! Just have to add in that cheesy
blue marbley background to match the girls pics)

Tt and I are “trying out” homeschooling this year. Tt is 4 1/2 years old, so we’re just now in that odd – confused – no idea what we’re getting ourselves into stage… My theory (such as it is) is that we find out as much about homeschooling as we can this year, try to get into a rhythm of meeting people, attending field trips and doing activities at home and if we get hooked, we get hooked! If not, it’s never too late to throw him into a Kindergarten somewhere.

Finding out about homeschooling… Unschooling? Home Learning? Traditional Learning? Charlotte Mason learning? Home Educating? Non-traditional learning? Structured learning? De-schooling? Independend Study Programs? Oy. I’ve decided rather than do all the de-coding, I’ll just spend the year figuring out how WE want to learn, then let someone tell us what that’s called. Ya. Sounds good. (Already I’m avoiding homework – we must be headed towards “un” schooling !)

(Tt learning about magnetism…)

The comments I get most so far are definately geared towards socialization – it’s a popular question. But it is a rather silly one if you think about it. Who says being stuck with 30 – 200 people your exact age for 12 years is the only way to learn social skills (or a healthy way, for that matter)? When else in our life are we stuck with ONLY people our own age all day? And how many people at a school will you really find that share your values and love of learning (which is really all I hope to instill)? 5? We’ll aim for quality socializations over quantity.

(Then again, I guess we’ll see what letting a 4-yr old boy hang out with too many teenage girls NOT his age does to a kid’s “socialization” skills…)

We’re pretty social as it is, so I’m not worried. We often have a houseful of kids – our own 4, their friends, and adults of all ages. We attend church regularily and later Tt + Boo will attend youth groups. We’ve found 2 or 3 homeschool groups where we’ve been getting to know other kids of various ages (and Moms) (also of various ages). And we meet more and more families just like us – starting out on this crazy adventure called “being with your Kids a whole dang lot”.

Oh, next comment we often get from people – “I couldn’t do that”, or the extended version, which is what they really mean, “I couldn’t be with my own kids all day every day!”. Well, I’m expecting the odd rough patch with us 3 spending a wholelotta time together, but I’m sure everyone has rough patches with their kids whether they see them all day or not. PLUS, my Kids are awesome. seriously, look at that face below – AWESOME.

(Backyard Time)

And then there’s “it sounds like so much work!”. I don’t know – getting up early every am to rush about getting everyone dressed and barely fed breakfast and out the door, into the car with half a lunch and books flying about everywhere and having a few hours to run errands or do some work before heading back through traffic to pick them up again and THEN rush them over to activities before heading home for homework and scraping up a dinner and then finally having an hour of “family time” (GO! quick!) before flopping exhausted into bed – that all sounds like a whole lot more work to me. We’ve tried a bit of both – I definately prefer sleeping in, and having Monday “Jammies Days”, and seeing my car a bit less, and enjoying a nice, long breakfast and latte with my Kids every day, and… ahhhh. Three cheers for less “work”!

(Taking full advantage of “Jammie’s” Day)
(Kids and “media” – a whole ‘nother topic…)

So, we’ll see how it goes.
We’re kind of in a rhythm, and so far all enjoying it immensely.
Looks like we’ll last the year. Next year? We’ll see…