If you read my last post, then you know that my husband and I have decided to homeschool my daughter, age 4. When we made that decision, we were living in Florida and I was working full time, however, we knew that we would be moving to Oklahoma in November. So, I spent the last several months reading everything I could find about homeschooling, trying to make some curriculum decisions, and really looking forward to starting homeschool.
Now that we are settled in our new home in Oklahoma, I am excited to start being a stay at home, homeschooling mom. Since Madison is only 4, I am trying really hard not to overwhelm her. She has been in preschool for the last year, so she has some expectations of what “school” should be like, but mostly, I am just trying to make it fun. I am planning to do some school with her on Monday through Thursday, then on Friday we will go to storytime at the library and do other errands (grocery shopping, drycleaning, etc.) So here is what we are doing –
First thing each morning, we start with a prayer and a Bible lesson. I ordered the “Bible Study Guide for All Ages”, from www.biblestudyguide.com. The program seeks to lay a strong foundation in biblical knowledge, and is available for three different age levels. We are using the beginner level, which is for 3-K. So far, it is fun for her and she seems to be retaining what she has learned. There are built in review questions, so I am hoping that will keep her retention level high. We are doing a lesson each morning (4 per week). This week (and the next two weeks) we are studying Joseph. Today, there were ice storms in Oklahoma and church was cancelled, so Madison asked if we could do one of her bible lessons even though it wasn’t a homeschool day 🙂 So she likes it, I like it, Bible studies are going very well for us…
Another I try to do every day is read at least 5 picture books per day and 1 chapter book per week. She loves to be read to and doesn’t think of this as school. The only problem I foresee with this is a lack of books. Since we are in transition right now (we are only living in Oklahoma for 6 months before moving to Japan, so we don’t really have any of our own stuff right now), we don’t have a whole lot of books(which is sad, since I have over 800 in storage 😦 ). We are going to the library each week, but the library has a 30 book limit for checkout, and I really can’t carry more than that anyway. We went Friday and checked out 30 books, however, we have not had a real school day since then and we have already read over half of them. My solution? I will have to make 2 trips to the library each week. This may work out better actually, because I can make I trip by myself and pick out more specific books to fit with our weekly theme (I eventually hope to have a weekly theme), plus I can find books for myself to read and not have to worry so much about whether the time on my parking meter is about to expire.
For reading lessons, I started with “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” Madison wants to learn to read, and I bought this book a few months ago before we moved. We did a couple of lessons there, which went pretty well – it wasn’t her favorite, but there is a writing section that we do on a little white board that she really likes. However, this week, trying to do reading was a huge struggle. She HATES this book. I don’t want to push her because one, she is only four and two, I really want her to enjoy school, but I do want to do some sort of reading with her. So I have come to the conclusion that I will have to try a new reading program with her. I am going to take the next few weeks to do some research about different reading programs, then start a new one with her in January. (If any of you have a reccommendation, I would love to hear it!)
Another thing we are doing right now is the “Letter of the Week.” This week was the letter F, and each day we do a different activity with the letter F. The first day, we watch videos about the letter from United Streaming. There is one about an animal that starts with each letter, and another about the letter that shows how to draw it, tells a story about it, etc. The second day, she watches the video for the letter at www.starfall.com, plus any more that she wants to. The third day, we make a quilt block with the letter on it (eventually we will put them all together to make a real quilt) and the fourth day, we cook something that starts with the letter. I found a cookbook called the Alpha Bakery Cookbook, which you can request for free at http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/gold-medal-flour/cookbooks-for-kids.htm (all you pay is about $4 shipping), and it has a recipe for each letter of the alphabet. This week, we made fudge brownies. Also, I ordered the Explode the Code books A, B, and C. They have several pages of activities for each letter, which so far, Madison really likes. Also, we watch one of the leapfrog videos about letters/reading each week. That is the only TV I let her watch (except for “Friday Night Family Movie Night”).
Each of those things, we do every school day (4 days a week). Then on Monday, we do art using the book “Scribble Art,” by Mary Ann Kohl. On Tuesday, we do one of the activities from the book “Mudpies to Magnets.” On Wednesday and Thursday, we do Violin Lessons using www.theviolinbook.com – right now I am teaching her, but as she gets more advanced I will put her back in lessons. On Wednesday, we do a game from Level 0 and on Thursday, we do a lesson from Book 1.
On Tuesday and Thursday, we also do math. Initially, I was not planning to do math with her until later, but I ordered Horizons K for later. She saw the book and has been begging to do it. The first day, she wanted to keep going and going – we did five lessons before she was ready to take a break. On Thursday, we did 3 more lessons. She said math is her favorite part of doing school, which is surprising to me, but I am going to go with it. As long as she wants to do it, I will keep teaching it.
After Christmas, I am planning to also start Japanese with her using the Rosetta Stone software. My husband can access it free through work, and since we are moving to Japan in April, I think it is important for both of us to start learning the language.
Overall, I think our first week went much better than I had hoped. I know this sounds like a lot for her to do, but in actuality, we did school for less than 2 hours each day – and she asked to do more school on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it must be fun for her – which makes me really happy.
Some other fun things we did this week – on Friday, we went to storytime at the library. On Saturday, we went to the Oklahoma City Civic Center to see The Nutcracker, then went ice skating, and tonight we went to see the christmas lights at the Myriad Botanical Gardens. All of these things were in walking distance from our new apartment, which is really nice. I am loving living downtown in Oklahoma City so far.
Finally, I was hoping to add a slide show with pictures our first week – I probably should have put it at the top, because I doubt many people read this far 🙂 – but I can’t get slide.com to work for me right now, so I might add it in later. Also later this week, I am going to try to post pictures of the homeschooling space I have set up and post about the “Treat Jar” system I am trying to do with Madison to encourage good behavior.
EDITED to add our slide show from Week 1:
Until then, have a great week!!