Homeschool Part 1

We are nearing the end of July, and to me that means another homeschool year is right around the corner.  If you are considering homeschooling, or wondering what a 'typical' day might look like, here are my thoughts on the topic.  This week is our journey through homeschooling and a few things I have learned.  Next week, I will be discussing what a typical day looks like for us.

Our Story
We knew we were going to homeschool my daughter before she was 2.  We knew this because, up to that point, we had traveled frequently and had moved multiple times as well.  We did not want our daughter to have to go to multiple schools and switch teachers frequently.  I went to school for Early Childhood Development, so both my husband and I felt confident that I could teach her.

For my daughter's 2nd birthday she got all sorts of school supplies.  I was obsessed with Montessori Method, and really wanted everything to be just perfect.  I wanted the ideal classroom.  I wanted the ideal curriculum, and of course we would do school time for a 3 hour block in the morning just like I had witnessed in college.

I converted our dining room into our classroom.  I set up a low shelf.  I had a child size table.  I had artwork at my child's eye level.  I did as much as I possibly could with a $0 budget.  I scoured blogs of other homeschoolers and drooled over their elaborate set ups.  Everything I found online showed me that we had to have at least one entire room to homeschool.  I spent so much time trying to create the perfect environment for learning that I didn't really utilize the room.  I focused on what I didn't have.

Then we moved and downsized.  We went from a 2400 square foot house, to 800 square feet.  There was not a room I could completely devote to homeschool stuff.  We had an enclosed front porch I tried to turn into a mini-classroom, but it ended up being more of a storage place for our supplies.  We started doing school where ever we were most comfortable.  That sometimes meant the kitchen (for messy stuff) and the sofa (for reading).  I was slowly learning that there was no ideal way to homeschool.  I was also realizing all that stuff I learned in college isn't necessarily applicable to homeschooling.

Fast forward through 3 more moves, we have finally hit our groove with homeschooling.  I have learned 3 major things, I want to pass on new homeschoolers.

1)  Homeschooling doesn't have to look like public school.  School doesn't have to be during set hours (but having a rhythm/routine to when you start is important).  Also, when we are homeschooling it doesn't take very much time to go through the material, so it isn't necessary for my family to devote 3 hour blocks of our day to homeschooling like I was trying to do, when my daughter was 2.  Yes, I tried doing circle time, calendar time, reading time, and sensory time with a 2 year old.  I was over zealous.

2)  There is no perfect classroom.  In fact, you don't even need a designated classroom, if you don't want it.  Some people do, and that's great.  Our family didn't utilize ours well.

I no longer feel like I need to have an entire room devoted to homeschooling.

We have a closet.  We pull out the things as we need them, and tuck them away when we are done.  We homeschool every where, and we have also transitioned to year long schooling.  Yep, that's right.  We don't take a summer vacation.  We do school at least 4 days a week,  all year and when life hits us with a big change or event (baby brother, or a move, etc) we close up our school books for a few weeks, and take our breaks then.  For our family, this works.

3)  Curriculum is way over analyzed (at least for kindergarten).
I have done it myself.  I read every review.  I looked up prices on every possible website.  There is no sure fire way to know if a particular curriculum will work for you and your family.  You basically have to buy it and try it.  With that being said, I don't think everyone needs to buy a curriculum for kindergarten.  If you have no idea what your style of teaching is or how you want educate your child, there are thousands of free resources that are available.  They are high quality, and the best part about it?  All these freebies come in various forms, so you can try them out and see if the Charlotte Mason method is your family's style or if you are more of an unschooler.  

If you are considering homeschooling, and you find yourself researching all the curriculum out there and panicking, I would encourage you to set down the curriculum catalog, step away from the internet and the bazillion blogs that tell you this is the only curriculum or the best curriculum is expensive.

There is no ideal classroom, curriculum, or schedule.

I say this all as I look back at our journey through homeschooling.
We have changed and adapted as time goes on.

When my daughter started kindergarten I panicked.  Even though we had already done preschool, I felt like this was the real deal.  I put so much pressure on myself and my daughter neither of us enjoyed it.
You can see a glimpse of what I did here.

I was also so stuck trying to recreate a public preschool and kindergarten that I thought we needed to have 'circle time'.  Well, let me just tell you, circle time with one child and one adult (neither of whom are big singers) didn't really mesh well with us.

After trying just about every method of teaching, and researching all the curriculum myself I have slowly found what works for us.  Next week, I will be sharing a 'typical' day for school for my family, as well as some resources I have found invaluable in making sure I am getting everything done that I want to.

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