The Tuesday after labor day, we began our first day of home school kindergarten. We had a lot of help from other bloggers and home schoolers. The internet is a wealth of information. We found a great set of printable organization and scheduling sheets on this blog Live Well Spend Less and a whole year of curriculum here Autumn Harvest Curriculum. Youtube provided many good circle time songs, and pinterest had recipes for things to make and do with the kids.
The local library was a great source of free materials, too! Since we plan to go every monday, we only got a few books to read at a time. We can get the ones we really like again and again. The theme for the next 12 weeks is Harvest/Fall. We have plenty of things to do! Weekly, we will learn a letter, using the Flower Fairies as our alphabet book. We find things where ever we go, on our hikes and adventures, that start with the letter of the week. We spot the letter on signs, in books, in songs we sing.
With the help of a very detailed binder, the week is mapped out to the hour. Yes, the hour. All the hours, of all the days ( except weekends) are planned from 8 am on. That sounds like madness, I’m sure. I thought it was too strict and too structured. But I was wrong. It’s the best thing ever. We have dinners planned out 2 weeks in advance. Shopped for meticulously, with leftovers used for weekend meals and lunches. Using the crock pot makes it easy to go on long hikes and outings without having to rush home to cook a meal. Chores get done during “quiet time” ( the hour or so after we finish the main activity of the day) and I use the time the kids are in the bath and getting ready for bed to prep for the next day, like laying out outfits, journaling, and things like that. Everything is getting done, with ease, and with plenty of time to sit outside and watch the kids play while I knit or blog.
Giving the kids structure is making them thrive too. They love doing morning circle after breakfast. The chore chart is full of happy faces. There has been so much less frustration and boredom. They don’t trash the house, they don’t fight with each other as much. They are nicer to me and more helpful. My five-year old wakes me up AFTER 8, with a smile, fully dressed, her bed all ready made. Last year, getting ready for school every day was the most stressful part of my life. That hour of badgering her to get dressed, eat, put on her shoes, brush her teeth was just the worst. Now we are ready for the day with a smile at 8. Its heavenly. No cramming the kids into the car for a twice daily round trip to school, no traffic, no forgotten lunches. Because we home school, we can enjoy parks, museums and other kid stuff during the day with out crowds, and I’m still driving less than I was when Lyra was in school.
Monday is moms big house keeping day and we have a bit of help in the morning so I can do that and shop for food. We go to the park and the library on Monday too.
Tuesday we have a regular playdate and try to do some science activities. This last Tuesday we went to the park and at home we made our own butter by shaking cream into an emulsion.
Wednesday is a outdoors/hike/nature day. We meet other homeschoolers and do a song circle, with a hike and a picnic.This week we visited the little farm at Tilden park, and hiked Jewel Lake with about 20 kids and 9 parents. Then Lyra rides horses at 2.
Friday is adventure day. We rotate going to various children’s museums and aquariums.
This week was busy but still less stressful than life has been in ages. I can’t believe how much I got done. We might change, add, or subtract things as we go, but the cool thing is, I can do whatever works for us. I don’t have to miss special events because of school, now, those events are school. I don’t have to buy lots of materials, we go to the places where they have plenty of the very best materials. Today my kids covered themselves in glitter, but I didn’t have to clean it up! They still get to interact with peers. They still get downtime. They still have unscheduled play. Its amazing. All of the things I told myself were going to break this for us are non-issues. I thought they would be bored, or over-scheduled. I thought I would be too exhausted to keep this up. I thought I would run out of ideas and things to do. I thought we would be too isolated. I thought it would be too much home and not enough school. But I was wrong about all of that. I’m so happy, that even though I had only planned to do this for a year, I feel like going back to regular school will be bittersweet. My kids tell me how much they love home school, say that I’m the best teacher, and are thriving with the schedule and the activities.
So, all around, double plus good!!!