Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

I have been wanting to do a “day in the life” post for a long time. I’ve done a couple vlogs that show part of our homeschool day, but never a blog post. … Until now! First, off, let me thank Nothing But The Fruit NBTF for sponsoring this fun project! I decided to spend a day photographing our homeschool routine so I could share it here on my blog.

I say “day” but really homeschool for us, when we stay on track (and I don’t stop to reply to emails/Facebook comments/ answer phone calls), only takes about two and a half hours. On a day where we only get slightly offtrack we’re usually still able to finish before lunch. But we have piano and art at lunchtime each once a week so we’re usually trying to beat the clock so we can eat before heading to those activities.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Ok enough rambling. Here’s how it goes…

7am-8am: Wake up

My son is my alarm. He’s usually up around 7 but I live for the days he lets us sleep until almost 8.

8am: Breakfast

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

My daughter usually makes something simple in the toaster for the both of them. If her chores are done (her room and the playroom is clean are the main ones) she can listen to an audiobook or podcast while she eats. I’m usually trying to straighten up a little and pull out our binder for the day.

The kids get dressed and ready for the day after breakfast.

8:30-9am: “Morning time”

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

We will sometimes do this at the table, we did this day, but 90% of the time we actually usually do this in the living room snuggled on the couch (like we do here in this vlog). We sit and I’ll read history while she colors a page about the time period we’re reading about and then we’ll discuss it, and practice a scripture verse that’s either one from the week in our curriculum or one she’s suppose to say in Primary at church.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

What is my son doing during this time? During the school year twice a week my son goes to a gymnastics preschool but on days like today he’s usually playing independently in the playroom. Building bridges and train tracks.

9-9:20: Math

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

We use Math-U See and we usually spend about 20-30 minutes either learning something new, or reviewing. We’re about to take a break from doing new lessons and spend the rest of the summer reviewing and nailing down a lot of mental math. If my son is home and interested I’ll invite him to play with the unit blocks. This is a subject he does seem to enjoy.

9:20-9:45: Language Arts, spelling and handwriting

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

It doesn’t take too long. We practice 10 words a week and every few weeks we’ll review. On Fridays we usually have a grammar lesson. We study a poem each week and she will copy a few lines for copywriting or “handwriting” practice. She’s improved a TON this last year working on it daily.

9:45-10:10: Phonics

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

My most difficult subject to teach, but my daughter says it’s her favorite. I think because I try extra hard to make it fun. I really try to be careful as much as I want to, not to push it too far or we both get frustrated. Sometimes we just spend the time reviewing sight words and making a fun game out of it where she tries to read a word before I do (I close my eyes and count before reading it, giving her a head start). If she gets it right first she gets a treat, if not, I (or her brother) does. A fun little snack to break up the day.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Sometimes we’ll use mini candies but I prefer something like the Nothing But The Fruit snacks. Both my kids like it and they’re made with 100% fruit just picked, pureed and pressed into little cubes.

At this point my son is usually craving some attention too so I’ll work on word puzzles and I’ll give him a NBTF cube once he finishes one too. Yea, ok, kinda like puppies but it works!

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

Sometimes she’ll practice her tumbling while we do word review. She’ll do some flips on the mat and I’ll set up a sentence for her to read.

Once we’re done with word review we’ll practice new phonics skills and/ or she’ll read a story to me. All of this we still try to keep within that 25 minute timeframe.

10:10-10:30: Science Experiment or Geography

We have several world and USA maps, sometimes we’ll review states but our Heart of Dakota curriculum usually has some kind of activity for the day to teach about equators, weather, or something of the sort. This summer we’re about to take a break from our HOD curriculum though and dive into unit studies (study based on interest/particular topics) and go through a lot of our Magic School Bus science experiment kits. I’m really excited for that!

10:30-11am: Read aloud

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

I spend 30 minutes a day during homeschool reading aloud from either the book we’re reading as a part of our curriculum.– Which could be a biography, a fantasy book, adventure, or something else. I read, then she narrates back what was happening in the story. We’ll discuss characters, plots, protagonists and antagonists etc. Our curriculum guide book gives me a good idea of what prompts to ask but as we’ve gone along we’ve come up with some of our own.

DONE! – Maybe.

In a nutshell that’s it. Of course if we add in breaks or go long with some things, or take breaks from a subject one day, the time may get stretched or cut a bit. This isn’t a steadfast rule. Sometimes we say “screw it all” and take a field trip or even just lounge in our PJs and read books all day. Reality is we have that freedom and we take full advantage.

Usually we are done by lunch then we head to our early afternoon activities afterwards, or we grab a quick snack to take with us, and have lunch after. When her brother is at preschool we can have an hour or so of free time before picking him up.

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

After school, the rest of their chores, and extra reading time we allow them to have some screen time. But on our busy days a lot of the time the iPads stay packed away.

I’m hoping in the next month or so to show more of our new summer homeschool routine using unit studies… Maybe even go through the rest of the day including piano lessons/practice, cheer practice and hair routines at the end of the night.

If you have any other questions about our routine or how we homeschool, let me know and I’ll address it in an upcoming post.

What’s your schedule like? More or less laid back than ours?

A homeschool day in the life. Our homeschool routine.

This is a sponsored conversation written in partnership with Nothing But The Fruit. Available at Starbucks, Target, Meijer, Winn Dixie, BI-LO and online at amazon.com

Well we’ve survived our first year of homeschooling. Though we’re continuing through the summer we’re taking a different approach (one I probably should relax and use more during the year) and just reviewing every day, and diving into subjects that excite them.

I wanted to jot down how the year went so I can remember and maybe set some reminders for myself as we start this new year. Here are some things I want to keep doing and change up a bit.

HAVE FUN

This year was a lot of fun. When I look back at all the things we did: the books we read, the trips we took, the people we met. We did A LOT. I just asked my daughter what she enjoyed about homeschool this year and she said: “I liked listening to Hamilton and learning about the election where he helped decide who should be president.” ha!

getting ready for the first day of homeschool

She also learned a lot about Frederick Douglass, Hellen Keller, New Amsterdam and early colonial pioneers. Needless to say we hopped around history a bit. It’s so rewarding when she recalls a lesson we had on Holland or King James III and brings it up in random conversation. But even still there’s something I wish we had done more of and that’s…

LET GO OF TRADITIONAL SCHOOL IDEALS

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

For me this was (and still is) so hard for me to grasp. Last summer I was all about getting outside, counting, doing math with rocks, listening to audiobooks and learning casually. Once August hit I sorta panicked myself back into a “typical school” schedule, trying to cram eight subjects in, and rarely diverting from that unless we were on a trip or planning for a trip.

It was really fun when we went to D.C. in October and did a unit study about Washington, D.C. and again in February when we spent a month studying Black History. But other than that we mostly stayed to our curriculum. Which is ok, but I want to give myself permission to be more flexible and go off and study space, or Egypt or oceans, or whatever they find fascinating.

The main thing that’s important is that I…

MONITOR GROWTH

Deciding home school

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come when I’m constantly looking at where we are. Reading is easily my most difficult subject to teach. I don’t have the patience I do for other subjects and it frustrates me watching her stumble over words she knows. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented to other parents, friends and homeschool groups trying to get reassurance and remember that THIS IS NORMAL!

A huge relief has come just flipping back to where we started. Seeing the books she was learning to read at the beginning of the year compared to what she’s reading now is a HUGE improvement. Seeing her handwriting at the end of the year versus the beginning is a HUGE improvement. The math she’s working on, the history she’s learned, all of the books we’ve plowed through together… She’s grown so much, and that’s what I need to keep track of not…

COMPARISONS

I know it’s my problem and I have to let go of comparisons… Comparing her to where I was, where other kids are, and just let her be herself. Same with my son who is just an entirely different ballgame. I need to remember they are who they are and that my job is to do what I can to help them be their best selves… Which is the main why I got into this whole homeschooling thing anyway.

It has truly been a fun year and I’m excited for the fun and growth ahead.

Highlights this school year:

Visiting Washington DC
Losing her first tooth
Completing All About Reading Level 1
Completing Math You See Alpha
Finished a Hellen Keller biography
Completing Half of Heart of Dakota Beyond
Enjoying poetry tea parties
Participating in an Martin Luther King Jr. Day Walk
Making friends at our Compass Co-op and studying art, poetry and Shakespeare
Taking video-editing lessons from mommy
Taking sewing lessons from mommy
Learning her back walkover and making an All-Stars cheerleading squad
Getting her first camera and learning about photography
Visiting Walt Disney World 2Xs and doing the Wilderness Explorers Challenge

And so much more that I’ll need to come back to and update with more posts and links.

last day of homeschool first grade what I learned

“Let’s read 365 books!” We said “It’ll be great!” We said!

Well it hasn’t been a cake walk, but it has been fun.

Earlier this year I mentioned my goal to read 365 books with my kids. One month down and our determination to meet this goal, plus desperately needing a break from the craziness of our world has kept us on track so far.

I was inspired by my friend Sili who blogs over at My Mamihood. She mentioned she and her daughter are reading 200 books this year. I asked my daughter if she wanted to commit to the challenge and she said yes! At first she said 400 but we settled at 365. With homeschool we read A LOT together and we finished 6 chapter books in one week this month.

From classics to Shakespeare, to history, adventure and fantasy, I’m excited to see where this year of books takes us.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here are our rules:

1. Picture books are A-ok. Those will be quicker and my go-to especially with my son who doesn’t have as big of an attention span.
2. We are only counting each book once. So even though we may read some of our favorites more than once, we are only counting completed books one time each. Obviously our chapter books (like Harry Potter) will take much longer to complete. I’ll have a list of books in-progress books too.
3. Books I read to her or her brother count. And books daddy reads too (though he usually defaults to our favorites). It’s a family effort. We’re counting books read aloud together. Not books she reads (or I read) on our own.
4. A book counts from cover to cover so multiple stories in one book will count as just one book.
5. Audio books we listen and discuss together count too! They’re perfect for quiet time, car rides, and extending our reading time

At the end of the month I’ll list what we’ve read, what’s in progress and our favorites.

The most beautiful part of this experience so far has been feeling the closeness between us. My daughter has been trying to finish her dinner, brush her teeth and get ready for bet a little earlier so we can read together longer. My son brings me books to read (he rarely did this before). When they randomly ask me to read a book I will almost always drop anything to do it.

I also love the variety of books we are exploring together: Shakespeare, historical fiction, adventure, fantasy, Greek mythology, and non-fiction. It’ll be fun to see what else we explore this year.

This month we are on track and completed 31 books including 9 chapter books together. Another four novels are in progress. If you want to keep up throughout the month you can friend us on Goodreads.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Here’s what we completed this month:

365 Books – January

1. What Do You Do With an Idea?*

2. Martin’s Big Words

3. Cars

4. Look Out for Mater

5. Goodnight Lightning

6. Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope

7. The Giving Tree

8. Green Eggs and Ham

9. Ghost Island (choose your own adventure-3 endings)

10. Tractor Trouble

11. The Talking Eggs*

12. Emma and Julia Love Ballet

13. The Rose Fairy Princess

14. American Girl: Meet Addy (book 1)*

15. Cars 2 (little golden book)

16. Addy Learns a Lesson: American Girl Story (book 2)*

17. King of the Wind

18. Addy’s Surprise: A Christmas Story (American Girl Story book 3)

19. I Have a Dream (illustrated book of MLK’s infamous speech- Similar not this exact book)

20. Happy Birthday Addy! American Girl Story (book 4)

21. Addy Saves the Day: A Summer Story (book 5)

22. With Grace

23. What do You Do with a Problem*

24. How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?

25. Changes for Addy: A Winter Story (book 6)

26. James and the Giant Peach

27. On the Train

28. How do Dinosaurs Go to School?

29. Read for Me, Mama

30. Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare**

31. Stop That Pickle!

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

In progress:
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Little House in the Big Woods
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls
Fairy Tales Stories
The Prairie Thief
Anne of Green Gables

For Mom:
Year of Yes
Big Magic
10 Years Later (in progress)

*= Notes our favorites. I’ll highlight a few of them below.

**= Our favorite book of the month.

The Talking Eggs

Lil’ J was enthralled by The Talking Eggs, a story of a little girl who encounters a mysterious woman in the woods after running away from her harsh family. A colorful folktale that captures the unique flavor of the American South. It’s a classic I remember hearing for the first time in my school library as a child. I was so excited when I saw it at a thrift store and brought it home for my kids. It’s a favorite we hadn’t read from our pile in a while but we happy to revive to kick off our year of books.

American Girl Addy Series

We discovered this by chance as I was leaving the library and glanced at the CD section. I grabbed Addy–The story of a girl and her family in slavery and their plan to escape. The story is so exciting, and the narrator is wonderful.  My daughter couldn’t get enough and she asks me to play it often. She says her favorite book was book 2 because it’s about friendship but she also enjoys the later books. The first book was my favorite, but my daughter didn’t like hearing about the harsh realities of slavery. The book doesn’t have many violent descriptions but coupled with her knowledge of slavery after our visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture–She (understandably) doesn’t enjoy those stories.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

This was surprisingly our favorite book this month. We’d sit and read it for an hour each night and discuss six of Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies. The stories were well abridged to include the main parts of the play and make it understandable for children. There were also lines from the actual play within the illustrations. Her favorite is Twelfth Night, though she loved Romeo and Juliet until the end. Her second favorite is a Midsummer Night’s Dream. During Hamlet she gasped at the end and covered her ears worried about everyone dying. It was hilarious and SO fun to enjoy together. I had no idea she’s be a Shakespeare fan.  We have a similar Greek Mythology book by Usborne I’m wanting to read together this month and hoping we enjoy it as much.

Martin’s Big Words

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Another great book and one I’d recommend you read with your kids this Black History Month. It’s been one of our favorites for years and a book we read often. My daughter will often talk to be about “love not hate” and how Martin Luther King Jr. was such an example for us.

This month I plan to add a lot of Black History books to the mix. We will hopefully finish the Melody American Girl series based during the civil rights era and in co-op we are studying the artist Horace Pippin. No doubt I’ll also be at the library digging up a fresh batch of books.

What good books have you and your kids read lately?

Let me know! I’d love to add more to our queue.

A year of books! 365 books to read with kids.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m overthinking this whole parenting thing. Either that or my parents didn’t give a crap. No… I don’t mean that. Not really. But seriously, am I overthinking this?

Since I took a left turn down onto homeschool lane I’m constantly second-guessing myself, or wondering how I can do a better job.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Part of me is all “Come on, if I’m in charge we’ve gotta knock this stuff out of the park!”

Then the other side of me is saying “No no, a big reason we’re doing this our way is to have more freedom and flexibility, slow your roll lady!”

I want to make learning fun, and help nourish a love of learning in my kids, but that’s also a lot of pressure to put on myself. So I’m just trying my best and coming to grips with the fact that some days, it might just not be as fun; but whenever possible, I want to make it enjoyable.

It’s great when we hit a breakthrough and I find a new way to teach something that’s otherwise boring. Whether it’s reading practice or counting to 100 I’ve found sometimes it’s all about the approach. Instead of just practicing reading sight words off a card, if I turn it into a “capture the card” game, all of a sudden it’s exciting for my daughter. When counting, if I have her shout out the number every time she finishes writing a row of 10, writing to 100 isn’t tedious, it’s fun. Throw in some stickers and she’s in heaven.

I guess the creators of the Code-a-pillar had that in mind when they developed a toy about coding.

My kids have adopted this thing as a new pet. It’s a toy but they’ve named her Calli. She’s a Code-a-pillar from Fisher-Price. It didn’t take long for my kids to figure out how she moves according to the order of her pieces. Well, it didn’t take my daughter long. My son throws a fit every time she takes it apart and hurries to reassemble her.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

We have a fair share of toys, some of them educational because of tools like letter recognition, others are helpful for learning life skills, and this is a fun in between.

“Let’s get Snoop!” Lil’ J plotted yesterday evening.

Getting on the floor and playing with my kids, designating Snoop as the target then watching my daughter program the code-a-pillar to circle around the carpet and up to our unsuspecting pup–That’s fun learning.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Fisher-Price sent us the toy to try, but we were having so much fun with it went online and ordered extension pieces on our own so we could have her take longer courses and make full 360 turns.

I watch as my daughter uses her hands to outline a path she’s pictured in her mind. I’m amazed at her little mind hard at work. I’m impressed at the beginning stages of coding she’s learning. I mean who knows… Maybe some day she will create the next virtual reality app craze that brings back a fad from the 90s.

Making learning fun and instilling a love of learning in our children

Three decades into life I still absolutely love learning. I love history, learning languages, studying cultures, religions, and plotting to learn piano. I’m forever curious. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember so I don’t know if that’s just my makeup or if it can be taught.–But I want that for my kids. I want them to feast on knowledge and enjoy studying new things and I’m thankful for tools and techniques that help make developing the love of learning easier.

I may be overthinking some parenting decisions but this is one effort I think is worth it.


Learning about the world around us is so important and making it enjoyable for my kids is something I’m passionate about, which is why I partnered with Fisher-Price on this post. All opinions are my own.

Teach programming and coding to young kids using the Fisher-Price code-a-pillar

As I’ve started to dip my toes into the homeschooling experience I’ve found myself swarmed by an extremely kind and generous community. Long gone are the days of isolation for homeschooled children.

5-mile-dam

Homeschooling friends old and new seem to be coming out of the woodworks, and I feel like soon enough, we’ll know just as many people whose kids go to public school as are schooled at home.

My heart has been pulled toward homeschool for years. A quick search of my blog last night revealed that I’ve even shared those thoughts here multiple times. And now here I am. Invested (literally, I’ve already dropped nearly $200 on curriculum and materials) and excited.

cherish365-playing-in-water

One of the first things I wanted to do was find a co-op I fit in with. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I figured I’d know it when I found it.

I wanted a co-op that would involve being outside and exploring. Preferably a diverse group with open-minded people. And would you believe that I found one pretty quick.

It was thanks to a friend of a friend I met at a “last day of school” party. I was lamenting about wanting to homeschool and she spoke up about how the process works for her.

A couple meetings and dozens of questions later, I’m all in baby!

Finding homeschool co-op friends.

We went to a co-op meet and greet at the park a couple weeks ago. The BYOP (bring your own Popsicles) party was a hit, and we wound up bumping into others we already knew who are also beginning their homeschooling journey. By the way, if you’re looking for a fun way to break the ice (no pun intended) with new friends, a Popsicle party at the park is the way to do it. We brought TMNT popsicles to share and they were a hit.

Finding homeschool co-op friends.

finging-homeschool-co-op-friends

The truly amazing part of all of this though, is even if we didn’t count the fact that we lucked into a co-op opportunity at the perfect time, we’ve had SO many friends reach out to give advice. I say give advice, but no one is trying to coming across as an expert. However all of the moms I’ve chatted with are more than willing to share what’s working for them, and encourage me to follow what works for us.

Finding homeschool co-op friends.

We’ve had a playdate at a river with new homeschooling friends, gotten together at friends’ homes, where I can browse through their curriculum. And then online I’ve gotten countless emails and message. Some from blog readers and others from people in Facebook groups, or friends I’ve connected with online through the years. All are offering more encouraging words and helpful answers to questions.

I don’t imagine I’ll become a source for how-to homeschool, but I’m excited to share our journey in this new adventure, things I learn from others along the way, and hopefully those of you who have been there or are considering taking this route will chime in with your thoughts as well.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. I’m so glad I’ve found my tribe.

popsile-fun-bw

popsicle-giveaway-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m passionate about making memories with friends old and new, which is why I’ve partnered with Mirum Shopper on behalf of Target and Popsicle on this post. All opinions are my own.

This summer I am deciding if I’m going to unenroll my daughter from public school and homeschool her next year. But if you were to ask me for my answer today it would most definitely be yes. Yes I am.

I’ve told a handful of friends and my husband and the first question is always the same.

Why?

I have so many reasons. But the strongest one is because I want to. I’ve always had that option as a top choice in the back of my mind. All this time I’ve just been making excuses for why we should give traditional school a try.

So she could get socialization and make friends. Because I loved school. So I could get a break during the day.

I wanted to homeschool before my daughter started kindergarten but told myself she would be missing out if I didn’t let her go. Some of my friends told me kindergarten was so fun and I didn’t want to take that away from her.

But this year came and went and it was fun, I loved her teacher, loved her school, but like a brick wall on the last day of school it hit me in the face. This was fun. But I still want to homeschool. Public school certainly is a place she can do well. But just maybe not the best option.

choosing-to-homeschool

It’s as if she has been a bird stuffed into a box lined up to 17 identical boxes. Sure, she can fit in too; but she’d do much better with the freedom outside of that box. It’s just the way the system is set up. And maybe learning how to conform to a system is important at some point but, she not even 6 yet. I think she will be ok to wait awhile.

Yea, but but WHY are you going to do this?

I feel like when you’re talking to a homeschooling parent we feel the natural desire to explain why we can’t, don’t, or won’t homeschool our own kids. When I’m describing the reasons for our choice it’s definitely not against anyone who chooses differently.

I’m a sucky school mom

If I’m being totally honest I feel like I sucked this year as a parent with a kid in school. I went to the parties and parent meetings in the evenings, I read the amazing 7 Mindsets book the school is using as a program, and I sent supplies and tried to keep up with other news. But I dropped the ball on so many things. Some silly (I forgot to order her field day shirt) others more serious (I didn’t realize she was having problems paying attention the last quarter). Then add in the fact that she missed quite a few days for family trips.–I’m a terrible mom. At least that’s what I told myself repeatedly this last school year.

I wasn’t exactly sure how hands on or hands off I could or should be in the classroom. I didn’t want to be distracting. But perhaps the more I was there the less distracting I would have been.

Maybe more time helping at the school would have made a difference. But it just wasn’t always plausible with my son and schedule.

Speaking of which…

Time.

At the beginning of the school year I thought the seven hours my daughter was away at school would mean lots of extra time for work. And since school started at a gruesome 7:25, she’d be home fairly early and we’d still have the rest of the afternoon to go out and do things.

The reality was by the time she got home, ate a second lunch did her homework, and whatnot, we were exhausted. Not including other after school activities like dance and girl scouts. We wound up dropping a dance class because she was not practicing or looking forward to it. Plus it’s more shuffling around during the day.

Counting the hustle and bustle of getting out the door and to school in the morning (which we were tardy an embarrassing 15 times-(but to my credit the 10 minute earlier time switch mid-year didn’t help)), the rushing to pick her up after getting her brother, and time spent on homework and projects in the evening, it’s about a 2-3 hour ordeal. That’s all the time we need to do a full homeschool day with one-on-one (or one-on-two) attention.

But really, HOW are you going to do this?

Honestly I’m still figuring this out. I still have a full-time workload and deadlines up the wazoo. But my husband is supportive of us giving it a go this summer then seeing how we feel come fall.

It may mean cutting back on work for me, or adjusting my schedule so that we have enough time for learning and trips in the morning, then the afternoons I’ll work on my projects and deadlines. But I’m ok giving up some spending money if it means I can make this a priority.

So you’re really serious?

Deciding home school: Homeschooling water color activity.

As a heart attack! But I’m giving myself some grace. Time to have fun with it and test the waters this summer. A homeschooling friend of mine told me not to feel the need to dive right in, but just enjoy dipping my feet in for now. And that’s what I intend to do.

We’re still working out a routine and we are discovering new ways to learn different subjects. I’m researching like crazy, asking other homeschooling parents lots of questions, and toying with a free curriculum. I’m hoping summer is full of learning and fun, and that we can continue it right on into first grade at home.

It’s actually scary putting this out there and stating my feelings so strongly knowing there’s a possibility I’ll fail and send her back to school. But whenever I get into a deep conversation about deciding to homeschool my heart throbs and I get emotional. I feel like this is what I’m being lead to do. What I need to do. I just need to find a way to make it happen.

“Summer isn’t as fun as it used to be,” my husband told me the other day in the kitchen. “When we were kids I loved summer, and always looked forward to it. Now I hate it.”

Speak for yourself buddy!… I wanted to say.

He went on to tell me how awesome fall is because it’s not as hot, and there’s football.

Yea yea, I get it. We’re grown up now and some of the novelty has worn off. But for our kids, summer means swimming, and popsicles. And from here on out it’ll be known as the time for vacations, no school and playing with friends.

I can’t help but feel like I haven’t been the most fun this summer (ok, this was before we left for Disneyland, now my daughter REALLY can’t complain). But when my kids are at school their teachers have lesson plans and activities and all sorts of fun things planned out.

I see other moms with all these screen-free goals, and crafts and activities. And here I am, an unorganized mess just flying by the seat of my pants (how I thought I could homeschool I have no idea).

I decided to challenge myself to come up with some fun preschool water activities we can do at home to liven up and cool down these hot Texas days.

So far we’ve done one. HA! Ok, I’ve got three more weeks to improve my record. Oh, and if you could trips to the pool then that improves my score.

Preschool summer water activity DIY Alphabet Soup

When I was at the Dollar Tree a few weeks ago I noticed a foam alphabet puzzle. I grabbed it cause for a dollar, it could be fun to mess with. Little did I know my kids would have so much fun with this thing.

Big T loves to take all the pieces out and bring them to me, naming the letters he knows. My daughter likes to try to fit them all back in the puzzle correctly.

I decided it would be fun to incorporate these into a water game we now like to call Alphabet Soup.

Here’s what you need:

  • Letters (the first time I did this I used a combination of foam letters and magnet letters off my fridge) The foam letter packs are just $1 at the Dollar Tree.
  • A big bowl or tub.
  • Water
  • Ladles or big spoons

That’s it! My kids helped me fill up the bucket, we added the letters and then as they scooped them up I had them yell out the letter they found. Lil’ J even scooped up letters to spell a couple words.

Preschool summer water activity DIY Alphabet Soup

So it’s a super easy preschool water activity that they played with this for a good hour, and had fun splashing around, and cooling off a little. Of course this could be done inside as well but you probably will want to put a towel down.

I have to admit, I’m EXTREMELY impressed with my son and his letter recognition. I mean not to brag or anything but he’s really really good at it for just turning 2 thanks YouTube Kids!… I mean, my diligent instruction time.

I recorded it so you can see what I mean. I’m telling you, he knows all but maybe four.

 

As (if) I experiment with more (super simple) activities that are a hit for my kids I’ll share them along the way.

Though I’ve only had a few “mom wins” so far this summer, I think about what I remember from my summer months. I loved playing with my friends, reading as many books as I could, watching every Disney movie we owned, staying up late and sleeping in. My mom didn’t plan specific ways to keep us entertained, and I think it helped me learn to be creative on my own.

So even if I don’t improve my fun-activity record, I think my kids will be ok too. We’re still making memories together, they’re just not all Pinterest-worthy.

What summer memories are you making?

Preschool summer water activity DIY Alphabet Soup

My heart pounds every time I stop and ponder about the fact that my daughter is starting kindergarten next year. It’s more than a year away, but still, I feel like it’s happened too quickly. It seems like just a few months ago I was taking pictures of my pregnant bump, and now, she’s almost four. Soon, I’ll have a memory that spans an entire generation as her first day of kindergarten overlaps with memories of my own.

The only thing is, many things have changed since I was in kindergarten. Schools are crowded, classes are bigger, and people are… Dare I say… Crazier.

Ok, maybe I’m overreacting about the last part, but I do sorta feel like influences aren’t like they once were. Part of this could be the innocence (or ignorance) that shrouded me much of my life.

I remember the first time I had heard people bought, sold, and used drugs in the bathrooms at my high school. I was completely shocked. It was my last semester of high school and to be quite honest, I had been avoiding public restrooms since middle school.

While I’m not worried about her fellow kindergartners offering her a joint in exchange for some Halloween candy, I do wonder if, in general, I could teach her classes better.

Think about it… One-on-one attention versus learning with a class of 25. We can move at our own pace, and focus on subjects that interest her. And I’m no Einstein but I’m pretty sure I’ve got up through algebra down. I may need a refresher on long division but you can learn just about anything on YouTube these days.

It all comes down to this question I’m trying to answer: How can I help make my kids even more awesome?

I always loved school, learning, and the social aspect of it all. I loved making new friends and starting new classes. Come to think of it, not much has changed; I guess that’s just my personality. I think a lot of who people turn out to be just happens to be who they are. I can influence my children as much as I want but they’re going be who they want to be.

My parents always drilled into me that I was going to go to college. Neither of them went, but they wanted that for me. I don’t remember when I decided BYU was where I wanted to go, but once I had my sights set on that, I was determined. I knew I needed good grades so I studied hard, and did what I had to do.

I think because my husband and I both graduated from college, our children should have a good shot at going. I mean, I don’t know the exact figures but I’m pretty sure the statistics lean in their favor.

Senior pictureMy sister Lauren just got accepted to BYU Hawaii and I’m so proud of her. It’s a school I dreamed of attending but never tried because fear, (and a lack of a broadcast program). She’s graduating high school a year early this month. I explained to my daughter how her Aunt Lauren is graduating, and how it’s a BIG DEAL. We shopped for some gifts and cards to send her.

Choosing the perfect Hallmark gift.

If shopping in a Hallmark store with two kids who want to touch everything sparkly, shiny and breakable isn’t nerve-wracking, I don’t know what is.

Choosing the perfect Hallmark card.

The singing squirrel and plush giftcard-holding owl were their favorites. I got her a picture frame and we chose a card. My high school graduation paled in comparison to my college one, but both are worth celebrating, and something I want my kids to remember, and hopefully aspire to do.

Hallmark graduation squirrel gift. So adorable for a high school or college graduation present.

I am glad that there are good influences in my children’s life. People like my sister Lauren, and I hope that I can continue to surround them with others. Is homeschooling a good start?

It seems as though the homeschooled kids I’ve met have a good track record for being very smart. Sure, some of them are also socially awkward, but these days there are so many more groups, clubs and recourses, kids aren’t as sheltered as they once were.

Luckily I still have a year to decide, and this fall I think I’ll give it a dry run with home pre-school. As long as my schedule continues to be as flexible as it has been, I think I’ll be able to give it a good try. If I crash and burn I can always send her off to kindergarten next year. And even still, if public school doesn’t fit us, we can always try homeschooling or private school or something else. Whatever gives my kids the best chance at growing to be awesome.

***
I’m partnering with Hallmark to share some of my life’s special moments and occasions. Some of the products featured in this post we selected, courtesy of Hallmark. All opinions are my own. You can find out more cute graduation gift ideas by visiting Hallmark.com.

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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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