Today I attended my first parents teacher meeting for my child... ever. I feel like I graduated to a new level of mom-hood. Our daughter is doing great. She is a smart kid (not that I am partial) and has been provided a lot of attention from many people other than me- so I am not bragging about myself here. It was a moment of counting our blessings.
Although my intention is to later homeschool her, we felt that while I am pregnant with Baby Bee it might be a good opportunity to send her to a little Montessori school while I spent some one on one time with our seccond child (and third who had ever growing needs for mental stimulation!). Each of our children it is clear, learn in different ways. So figuring what those are has become part of this parenting journey.
Having said that, this blog I want in no way or form to put mamas on the path to comparrison, or guilt trips. What I do aim to do, is encourage you by providing some of the tricks Ive been learning. If they help, great! If they don’t - I would love to learn what is working for you as well!
I actually have been quite challenged by my one year old recently who loves to take things apart and figure out how they go together. He is definitely in the tornado stage of learning.
But I am getting off track.
Kids are sponges. We all have heard that. The principle in the parent teacher meeting today was harping on that. We as parents have the most inpact on our child’s learning even if they are going to school. They will learn from just about anything you include them on; whether it be helping you sort socks, or weed the flower bed they will be expanding their little minds.
If you are looking into the homeschool route, or just want to find ways to interact with your kids that is more educational, you've come to the right spot.
Education is Life. Its that Simple.
When I say I homeschool my 3 almost 4 year old (Baby Fox), I take the approach that I carve out an hour or two a day depending on her attention span and my schedule, to sit with her and provide her with opportunities for learning. She really thinks that school is playing games with mommy.
This last year, I spent a lot of time gathering materials to build a “school room.” This year I have not done much leason planning. Last spring when I was teaching both my 5 year old and 3 year old I spent time in the evening or on Sunday preparing for that weeks lessons. We used the book Before Five in a Row. The book created a frame work for us.
Right now, however, I’m focussing on elements my Baby Fox needs work on. She is finally expressing interest in numbers. So this week, we have done various activities that involve number recognition. I will post some of these activities in the next blog.
Give your children structure, grace and yourself the same with a pumpkin spice latte.
At the preschool age (and even 1st - 4th grade), kids learn mostly through play and short spurts of dedicated attention. Some people proudly call their teaching approach “hack schooling.” This is a type of “un-schooling” or antiformal learning approach. Kids do also thrive on routine. I tend to combine some formalities while at the same time meet the kids needs, and my needs for how that is carried out. My goal is three days a week of more focussed learning that begins with Baby Fox ringing the school bell and singing the Sing Spell Read and Write phonics alphabet song. From there I gauge and engage my children according to their mood and abilities. Part of being a mama and a teacher is staying on our toes. But if one of our kids are sick or you are pregnant like me, there is also grace. And maybe a fun reading day on the couch or a scavenger hunt outside while you sit on a blanket.
We still stick to a time schedule (or try). There may be spilled milk or a kid hacking up a lung that change all that. But at least having a schedule helps me keep on track most days. And I go to this lady for pointers onnhow to keep on point: A Mother Far From Home.
This not only helps us achieve our goals, but gives our kids parts of the day they can look forward to. Like lunch.
For a FREE PRINTABLE schedule (lets rephrase it as goals) for a typical day, go HERE.
Homeschooling can happen just about anywhere
Yes, I have created a Montessori style class room complete with a circle rug, accessible directives, a play kitchen and desks. But heres the thing. Most mamas I know, homeschool in their kitchen. Which makes a great space for family learning. If you live where you can be outside, you can conduct your lessons under a tree, your front yard, or a picnic table. I was spoiled, growing up, with a tree house where I did my individual work with my cat. The Wild and Free organization encourages this outdoor learning approach and has a great community and resources.
This week my 3 year old wanted to homeschool in our hammock one day, and then excitedly sat down and announced school was in session in the class room the next. My one year old both days did his tornado type exploration in the same room while we focussed on our numbers and letters. I’ve made both the hammock room and school room baby proof so this wasnt really a problem (I mean henmay have eaten the tip of a marker but it said it was non-toxic).
Bottom Line: Don’t Stress!
Basically, if you are new at home schooling, or trying to figure out if its for your family, be open to the idea that you don't have to have all your ducks in a row. Create achievable goals for yourself and your kids. If a catastrophe hits. There is always tomorrow. Yes. There are certain laws for each State you have to abide by. Once you figure out these rules, the rest can be as simple or complex as your family needs. There is normally a lot of leaway in carrying out the law requirements. My mother always planned a week of extra days just in case the State didnt like one of her lesson plans.
It takes a village to raise our children. Thankfully in this day and age, home schooling has more allibis than when my mother was teaching us. We have Facebook groups that meet in real life, chat forums, Pinterest, blogs, and Instagram. However, these “support” options all can get pretty overwhelming at times. Part of survival is also spending quiet time reflecting on your family values and goals. We need to shut out all the perfectionistic, judgemental voices out there telling you are not good enough. You are the only mother or father your child has. God gave them to you for a reason. Do not let the perfection on Instagram steal your joy and confidence. See the love in your child and let it drive you. Laugh at mistakes, learn from them and keep moving. These are mt ultimate goals. And I fail at them every day.