Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

People have been asking me here and there how homeschooling is going. So I figured I should just write it all out it in a candid post.

A lot of my shares here lately have been showing bits and pieces of our journey thus far. Learning outside, learning at the mall, and finding our community, but I wanted to take a moment to just, well… Blab.

first-day-of-school-printable-sign (Super cute printable from Fly on the Wall Ink)

We started over the summer and had been at it for a couple months, but we called August 22nd the “first day of school” when everyone else in our district started.

We technically began the day after the school year ended because I felt like I wanted to homeschool and I thought that if I didn’t jump on it RIGHT AWAY it wouldn’t happen. I’d wind up moving onto something else, and ignore that urge I’ve been having for a long time.

We didn’t start with any specific curriculum. I literally just googled first grade math worksheets and started from there.

Then I stumbled upon more and more free resources and friends told me about some (like Ambleside Online) and I planned a very loose curriculum around library books and whatnot. Meanwhile I was printing free samples of different box set curriculums because I knew ultimately I’d want a pre-planned package I could go by day to day to help myself feel more confident in what I’m doing.

I landed on Heart of Dakota for the main curriculum then I bought All About Reading for reading/phonics supplementing and Math-U-See for math studies. I’m LOVING them all so far. Heat of Dakota has each day planned out by subject, and each subject takes between 10-25 minutes to complete and when it comes time to do the math and reading I just switch to my other curriculums for that time.

homeschool curriculum
Starting this week Mondays are co-op days where we meet for literature/poetry, science and art. Every other week we’ll take field trips. In the co-op we each have jobs. My assigned job is… Try to guess…

Any guesses?

I’m Yearbook Photographer/ Editor!

You know I’m not the least bit excited about that duty *wink*.

I also helped with the art lesson plans for the kinder-aged kiddos and I’ll be a fill-in guide.

Then, we also joined a Wild Explorers club where every other Thursday we’ll meet for a nature hike and activity where the kids earn badges for completing assignments. Kinda like Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts but we’ll do it all together.

It seems like every week I’m finding another club or activity going on for homeschoolers and I’m wanting to take advantage of it, but I’m also trying to pace myself because while I LOVE all of the friends we’re making, my favorite part of this whole experience are the sweet moments in the time we spend together as a family.

It may be easier to explain how it’s been my breaking it down brutally with the good, the bad and the crazy.

The good

I absolutely love the time aspect. This seems counter-intuitive because the kids are home with me all day, but I feel more productive in a short amount of time. Yes, I’m doing all the teaching, but it’s done in 2.5-3 hours. Instead of rushing out the door to be at school before it starts at 7:25, we are leisurely waking up around then, or later. Most mornings my kids clamor into my room after my husband has left for work and we snuggle and sleep in until about 8.

It’s glorious.

Then we spend the day together. And I actually love it.

I appreciate seeing exactly where my daughter is struggling, and watching her improve. I adore her “ah ha” moments and witnessing the lightbulb go off in her head.

I enjoy taking our lessons further, and learning about what she’s interested in, and discovering new interests as we follow our lesson plans.

I can’t get enough of the freedom to learn anywhere and explore.

I delight in the fact that we are done before lunch, and I love our weekly poetry tea parties (with apple cider).

first-day-of-school-tea-party

I love making this path as we go. At least right now, I mean, she’s only 6.

I love that we are getting WAY more quality time together. The whole experience has given me a mental shift and my focus on family has heightened tremendously. But that also brings me to the bad…

The bad

It’s not all roses and buttercups. There are a couple challenges so far.

For one, I’m still adjusting the rest of my life around homeschool. This has moved to the top of my priority list so finding time to get all of my work done hasn’t been easy.

I’m behind on emails, blogging less, and I kind of feel like doing the bare minimum to keep going professionally. But obviously that’s not good either.

I’m spending a lot on supplies. Of course this isn’t a requirement but I WANT to laminate things and buy new art supplies and math manipulatives. It’s my new craft supply addiction.


It’s not always easy with little brother at home. He’s gotten better at knowing when it’s homeschool time and I try to give him little activities to do, but it’s definitely more distracting and slow moving on the mornings he’s home. I give her more breaks to play with her brother. Now he’s going to a gymnastics preschool for four hours twice a week and we really knock out a lot on those mornings.

Then there’s the alone time thing. I’m most inspired to write and create content when I’m alone with my own thoughts. My alone time necessity tank is at a critically low leveling right now.

I used to work at night but now I’m too exhausted not long after the kids’ bedtimes.

Thankfully my husband has come to the rescue. Last weekend he spent two afternoons taking them out of the house so I could be alone and… Well, actually catch up on some deadlines. He’ll also keep the kids off me so I can take a midday nap and then work a little longer after bedtime.

Hopefully I’ll get into my stride and come up with a work/homeschool balance that works for me.

The crazy

Homeschool is on the brain all the time. It’s like a new obsession.

Instead of editing photos, I’m researching homeschool math tools.

While catching up on a show I love I’m laminating Bible memory verses and making sight word flash cards.

In the car my kids listen to podcasts.

I’ve deleted un-educational apps from the iPad they use and installed Starfall and educational games in its place.

Even on weekends and holidays I find we are continuing our lessons and practices.

It’s not easy to turn off. It’s more of a lifestyle switch we’re making.

Before I felt like she was at school all day and deserved a bit of a break when she got home. Now we’re done with school so early, but I still feel responsible for her learning 24/7. So I want to seize every moment for her to be able to absorb quality information.

From audiobooks, to story podcasts to playing games together, and going outside to observe and talk about and draw what we see in nature… I can’t really turn my “teacher brain” off.

This is crazy to me. I mean… Who is this person I’ve become?

She’s kind of scaring me. But I think I like it.

I know spending time outdoors is so important. Especially for children. Yet despite that awareness, it’s still sometimes hard for me to make it happen.

I’m either bored standing out side while they play, too hot, or find myself with “better” or “more important” things to do.

But then I slow down and think about my youth–Drinking from the hose, hunting bugs and capturing caterpillars, watching ants pick up huge chunks of my apple crumbs. I learned so much just from observing and being free to play outside.

I want their childhood to be full of this.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

I know this is an important part of growing up and I want my kids to experience that too. I’m making little changes here and there to make these goals a reality.

We’ve started taking our dog for daily walks again, joined a local Wild Explorers Club, we’re doing more nature walks around our neighborhood trail while discussing what we see–Leaves changing colors, or the difference between toads and frogs.

I’m pushing my comfort zone a little but it’s worth it to give my kids a childhood I know will be so enriching.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Nature hike with kids-Getting outdoors and enjoying the world we live in.

Check out more of our fall exploring on my Tampico is Color photo blog. More on this topic coming soon!

“We have $100 to spend,” I told my daughter as we walked around Sears.

“ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS?” She nearly shouted. Her eyes widened and she rubbed her hands together behind a big grin. “That’s A LOT of money, isn’t it?”

Well, let’s see. I told her. I pointed to the dress she was holding and asked her to read me the price tag.

“Twenty dollars,” she read.

Ok, so that means we have 80 more to spend.

math-mall-lesson-4

We came in with a gift card to pick up some clothes for the new school year but I didn’t realize we’d also be leaving with another math lesson under our belt.

We browsed together and she picked a few more items off the rack for herself while I shopped for her brother. After a little while we set all our items down and I opened my calculator app and had her help me add them up.

math-mall-lesson-5

First she read me the prices of her items then she added the price of her brother’s items.

“Ninety dollars!” She showed me the total. “So we have one dollar left!”

Technically with tax she’s exactly right but I reminded her about place value and asked her to think about how many dollars we’d have left.

Math-mall-lesson-1

“Ten more!” She said after using my hands as a tool.

I pointed to a hat that she had grabbed for her little brother.

“That’s about ten dollars,” I said.

“Then we’ll be at one hundred!”

She typed the last 10 into the calculator and saw it reach the number we’d been aiming for. Not more, not less.

She beamed as we gathered our things and marched to the register.

“We wasted all of our money!” She told the cashier as she rang up our items.

The cashier laughed and I saw this as an opportunity for a quick vocabulary lesson.

“I think you mean spent,” I suggested. “Wasted is when you throw away something for a bad reason. Spending money is when you are using it to buy something. We are spending the money on school clothes you will use for this whole year, so that’s not wasting.”

“Ahh, ok, spending all our money!” She amended.

math-mall-lesson-3

The total rang up to $108 thanks to tax. I decided not to go into that lesson today. That’s what we get for missing tax-free weekend.

Luckily we had just won a slew of shop your way points by playing a Secret Life of Pets game in the store, so we redeemed those for cash and it covered the tax over our gift card money.

math-mall-lesson-2

We walked out of the store, well, Lil’ J was skipping and heading straight for the food court. We finished our little mommy/daughter date with a Chick-fil-a lunch and a Bluebell ice cream dessert. I sat across from her and admired her little spirit. So joyful, so full of life and willing to learn. I love her.

I didn’t know going into that mall that we’d be turning the trip into a math lesson. I’m not even sure if a year ago I would have seen it as an opportunity to do so. I probably would have just rushed through the trip and not thought to stop and explain. Knowing we are on our own now, no other teachers this school year, just us with our many books and life experiences to lead the way. It’s a little scary, but mostly exhilarating, and I can already see it bringing us closer together.

Want $100 to spend with your kiddos at Sears? You don’t have to turn it into a math lesson but I promise you it can be fun! Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win a Sears gift card. Also while you’re there check out the new kids jeans and back-to-school gear or look online at Sears.com/backtoschool.

My daughter basically refuses to wear anything but dresses but Sears has expanded their popular Roebuck &; Co. denim line from just mens to boys and girls as well. The boys line has a classic collegiate feel, with tints of color and dry processing to give it a vintage look. Sizes are 7-16 for girls and 8-12 for boys and between $24-36 a pair. Next year she’ll be a little bigger and I’m guessing ready to expand on her choices.

Giveaway ends August 24th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

Update: Winner alert- Commenter #59 Tara Schreeve

*I’m passionate about spending quality time with my family and I love it when stores make that easier for me by making shopping easier and more affordable. That’s why I’ve partnered with Sears for this post.


Four years ago when I was working full-time at a news station with my daughter in daycare 40+ hours a week, I never dreamed that I’d someday have the opportunity to homeschool my kids. I wasn’t even sure if that was for me. But here I am knee deep trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing yet having fun in the process.

When I was a kid and the first day of school was about to roll around it felt a lot like Christmas. I loved going to the store and getting a new backpack, lunchbox, and all of my school supplies. I pictured doing the same with my kids each year. Even though we’ve decided to homeschool this year, I still want to nurture that excited feeling about beginning a new school year.

So here’s how I’m getting ready for the first day of homeschool.

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

First things first: I need to officially withdraw my daughter from her public school. We’ve been dipping our toes in all summer and we’re all happy with how it’s going so it’s time I make it official and let the school know we’ll be homeschooling so they can take her off their list. I have the email to the principal drafted (that’s all you need in Texas) and I think today is the day I hit send.

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

Get materials ready: After lots of research and free sample downloading I decided on a homeschool curriculum I love.—A few actually. We’ve been dabbling in some work all summer but we’re taking a bit of a break for the next few weeks to enjoy summer. Just last week I discovered an online group where other mothers who used the main curriculum have gone above and beyond to make extra materials to help with the lessons. From coloring pages to flash cards, there’s a lot I’m excited to organize so I can pull from through the year. I’m also setting up a special place in the playroom to keep it all organized.

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

Make it special: Along with getting our materials together I want to give my kids a chance to pick out something special for school. Maybe it’ll be a special book and a school supply item like a notebook they like or sticky notes. It’s their choice, my treat.

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

Make a game plan: We have a general idea of how things will go down once the school year officially starts. Our days right now are pretty low key and easy paced. I think we’ll keep that going during the school year, but probably try to be a little more consistent with going to bed earlier and waking up ready to learn and maybe even adjusting my working hours.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Celebrate Day 1: It’s been a family tradition of ours since I was a little girl to take first day of school pictures in a new outfit for the occasion. We went shopping for Lil’ J’s birthday and got a couple dresses for the first week of school. I’m also thinking we may take a field trip on the first day to a local kids museum that’ll be surely deserted to launch and celebrate our newfound freedom.

This is big for me. –Big for us. It’s still a little hard to believe we are actually doing this but it feels so right and I’m so ready!

Happy back to school!

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

Deciding home school and if it's the right thing for you and your family.

diy-letter-wall

 

What are you doing to get ready for the new school year?


This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to help protect your firsts and the moments in between. Share your firsts with #HeresToFirsts.

Kids are naturally interested in learning. It’s us adults who manage to squander that passion by making it too ridged or not conducive to the way our individual child likes to learn. In my quest to find ways to keep a strong love of learning in my children, we’re stepping away from the table more and even out of the house entirely.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

I’m still in the process “deschooling” myself. This basically means re-working my brain to see schooling differently than I have my whole life.–Outside of a structured and traditional environment. It has been an interesting process in and of itself.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

We don’t get outside enough. Just speaking for myself. That’s all changing now.

Some friends introduced us to a park nearby with a dam and I’ve been in love with it ever since. During the week it’s deserted and feels like our own private beach.

I’m constantly reminding myself that learning isn’t all done in books. It’s done through observing and discovering the world around us, meeting new people and asking lots of questions. It’s done in the heat of the summer, and dead of the winter, playing in fall leaves and picking spring flowers.–Or while wandering around a sculpture garden completing a scavenger hunt.

umlaf-sculptur-garden

This is all new to us. But we’re learning each and every day everywhere. 

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.
Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.

Learning outdoors with kids, deschooling and re-learning how to have fun while learning. Homeschooling adventures.


To read and learn more about our summer learning outdoors check out my Tampico is Color photoblog

Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget



I'm a part-time journalist, full-time wife and mother striving to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day.

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