Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The 'How' of Homeschooling

Continuing with 'Back to Homeschool Week' with 'i have to say...'

Tuesday, August 7---How do you homeschool?
Scheduling, classical education, unschooling, getting the kids to help with chores, how to be "mom" and "teacher" at the same time, special needs, teaching an advanced child, how to teach the tough subjects, teaching high school, teaching with babies and preschoolers in the house, budgeting for homeschool supplies, notebooking, etc., etc., etc...

Although it seems as if I have been planning to homeschool forever now, Levi is just half way through his kindergarten year. We've been even more laid back than usual during the summer, but I have been doing some planning for the fall. Unfortunately I have had to grab minutes when I can get them, so my books and papers have been sitting out a while:

We consider ourselves neo-classical homeschoolers, following The Well-Trained Mind in spirit if not 'to the letter.' (I previously posted here on the subject.) I consider the remainder of this year a chance to create a successful routine and organized atmosphere before beginning Levi's first grade year in January when he turns 6.

Slowly, I have been implementing little changes here and there. Just this past week I re-purposed a hanging file cabinet into a file system for Levi's daily core subjects. It is right next to his desk and holds his daily copywork so that he can grab a paper and get started when lessons begin. The file cabinet also holds his phonics and math books, worksheets, coloring pages, and magazines:

On the to-do list is hanging this book shelf which will hold books for the current topic we are working our way through (such as Thanksgiving, shown, or ancient Egypt, etc.). It is above the cabinet that holds all our school supplies and games:

Books, stories, and educational songs on CD are a lifesaver around our house. Levi listens to them daily. We also keep a selection in the car to listen to while running errands. It is so easy for the discs to get scratched and smudged with the boys handling them, so I am part way through copying them all. The originals go in a large CD storage folder:

I have wanted to keep some record of what we accomplish daily but haven't felt the need (yet) for an elaborate record-keeping system. At the beginning of the year I found a nice large calender with ten blank lines in the box for each day. It hangs next to my desk, and I enter any lesson/book/educational activity/extracurricular activity for each day. This has been so helpful to see at a glance what we have accomplished and what we need to work on:
Many of our homeschooling books reside on these two bookcases in the school room/library. They are divided by subject on the right (math, art, music, language arts, science, foreign language, etc.), and history/literature is divided by time period on the left (with reference books on the top shelf):
I have created a little 'command center' next to the breakfast nook (to the left). The top board is a dry erase calender which I can see from my kitchen sink. On the bottom board I have posted our routine (which I will share at a later date, after I tweak it into something that works well for us) and an inspirational quote. The black rolling cart holds our 'circle time' notebook, children's devotion book, and educational place mats:
The circle time notebook has been working really well for us. It has sections labeled poetry (that we are memorizing), memory work (quotes, months of the year, history, etc.), Bible (verses and prayers), 'around the world,' and art. Everything is placed in page protectors so that we can easily flip through to review. In the 'around the world' section, I have created flash cards with places of the world and placed them in a page protector. There is also a blank map of the United States that we are filling in as we learn each state (and surrounding countries/oceans). In the art section we add an art postcard weekly to look at and discuss.

The notebook is handy to grab as we are eating breakfast together. Some days we review everything. Some days we are lucky to get through one section. If I am not free to do 'circle time,' we play a CD such as Bible songs or Spanish review. The boys also enjoy using our place mats with maps, presidents, numbers, shapes, sign language, and other fun things to read and learn.

I'll post our routine and lesson schedule in the next month or two. Our official 'first day of school' will hopefully be September 11th.


Barb said...

What kind of educational songs do you listen to? Where are they available? Just for kindergarten? I'm hearing more and more about chanting memorization and am looking for ways to instill rules through song/chants.

Mumsy said...

Your house is so cute!

I love that you are posting about homeschooling. I am hoping to do it when my daughter is old enough. I will probably start doing some sort of preschool thing in the fall with her.

Thanks for sharing about your days. I love it.

Tricia said...

I LOVE your homeschool room.

I have been at this homeschooling thing for going on 10 years now, and you have me put to shame in the organization department!

Your children will be blessed for all your hard work.

Anonymous said...

I have tried in the past to designate a homeschool area, but we always end up in the kitchen, so it is.

Organizing. We'll get along in that area. Thank you for sharing.

(Oh, and for commenting on my blog.)

Rebecca said...

Yes that organizing thing...your photos were just beautiful.

Heidi said...

I was just thinking..., we use many different CDs. I'll try to post the titles and links on Friday under the curriculum topic.

Flo, I understand about ending up elsewhere. :) We do stuff at the kitchen table and on the couch as well. I just love having a place to store everything and use as 'home-base.' :)

Thanks for stopping by, everyone!

Kimmie said...


Love your pictures, you are so organized and love the copy the cd's and keep the original in a folder (way cool)!

May God bless you on your journey!

mama to 6
one homemade and 5 adopted
stop by and meet us when you get a minute!

carole said...

Very inspirational. Thanks. And at the same time I honestly am thinking, "Oh. Where in the world am I going to find space for all the homeschooling materials that are soon to inundate my home?!"