"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our experience starting homeschool-First grade and a new baby.

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Starting homeschool was nothing like I thought it was going to be, that's for sure.  I had worked for months and months putting together a plan, curriculum and prepare all the materials ahead of time. I wanted everything ready for us so when the baby came we were ready.  We had been homeschooling for some of preschool and all of kindergarten but this was first grade, and I was nervous. This would be the first year I would have to officially declare our intentions to the state. 

We loved My Fathers World for Kindergarten and I really liked the looks of the first grade program.  I purchased the deluxe version which covered Bible, math, science, history, phonics/reading, and music.  I got additional materials to supplement for geography and health. I set the school room up in stations with additional activities ready to go.  
The kids working s our "math" center.
Playing at the library.
I also went online and found additional activities that the kids would enjoy such as the Home Depot Kids Workshops, pottery making, and a weekly puppet show at our local library.
Peanut at Home Depot

My due date was the end of August, and I had  feeling I was going to go past my due date (seeing as I did with the first two kiddos).  The plan was to start in the beginning of August to get our feet wet for a few weeks.  When the baby came we would take 1 month off and then slowly get back into our routine.  Boy was I in for a shock!  I had a hard time near the end of the pregnancy.  I was having hard Braxton Hicks contractions and they made it nearly impossible to concentrate on what we were doing.  I ended up going 2 weeks past my due date and we only did school for about half that time.  In the first few weeks it became apparent that Peanut did not like our curriculum.  He was bored and wanted nothing to do with it.  Getting him to pay attention was nearly impossible.  

A very frustrated Peanut working on some handwriting.

While the weather was nice we did as much as possible outside which helped.  The kids really enjoyed when an entire day had to do with one subject, almost like a unit study.

Our ant experiment.
Final ant project

After the baby was born, we took our one month break.  My husband had just started back at work, so I took an extra week off before we started back at school.  After many breaks and changes to our curriculum I was defeated.  Homeschooling with a newborn was not an easy task to say the least.  It was even harder because the baby was not taking bottles (and still isn't) and I hadn't discovered breastfeeding while baby wearing.  

A crying baby definitely adds to the frustration and stress for me and the kids.  So I did the only thing I could think of, and that was to pray.  After some thought and prayer (and a break from school) and you know what I discovered? Its not about what I like, its about what they liked.  If they liked it, they would learn! (duh!)  I didn't necessarily need a special room, and things didn't need to be set up like a school.  This wasn't a school, it was their home.  

I sat down with the kids for the first time and asked them what they liked and disliked about homeschool.  Then together we came up with things they would like to do.  What a difference!  We pretty much abandoned the curriculum.  We kept their geography work, health, science, some of their math, some of the art and the music program.  I've been piecing together some Bible work.  Peanut loves computers and his iPad, so why not use it for school?  So now they use their iPads for most of their math and phonics (more on the apps in a later post). We play games, and do crafts and have continued with the library, and the Home Depot Kids Workshops
Peanut at one of the Kids Workshops.
We have also started unit studies and lapbooking as  way to make learning interesting.  They are learning more now than ever, and we are all less stressed.  This week is the first week we are doing a unit study that is almost a full week long (on maple syrup! yum!) and we are having a blast!
A recent trip to a local childrens museum.
I have now started to look at second grade materials.  It might seem a bit early, but its become obvious that we wont be successful with a boxed curriculum and I have never put something together on my own.  I am also looking into some online programs.  One of the programs I am looking into is *K5 Learning.  K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

I've learned alot about homeschooling in this first year. Actually, much more than I expected.  Now that spring is finally here we can do more outdoor activities, and I'm excited for all the learning fun we are going to have!

God Bless!!

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