Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our School Room

While we do most of our schooling outside of our official schoolroom, I find it easier to keep things organized when there is a central location for all of our materials.  Plus, as Michaela attended a public preschool, she is comforted with the appearance of "real school" style decoration.  This may change as our homeschooling journey continues, but at this point, this is what we both need.

Our schoolroom is actually the baby's room.  As she is still sleeping in a crib, her room was the best option.  She is contained at night and can't make any messes.  She naps in the big kids room so that we can utilize the schoolroom at that time.

Our School Room
We have a small table for one on one work.  It is really too small, even now, so I am sure we will replace this with a larger one at some point, or just do our work at the kitchen table.  We also have 3 workbox towers.  I don't use them as "real" workboxes - just to store our supplies.  I also store misc. supplies on top and on the sides.  Above the table is a checklist we use to make sure we get our daily work done.  I don't really need this, but Michaela enjoys checking things off on her own.
Along one wall I have our simple pocket chart schedule.  I love it because I can easily move things around if we get off schedule.  I also have a simple pocket chart calendar (source: Our Aussie Homeschool), and a picture that shows them their options for free choice time.

On the same wall, there is our old coffee table with a book display in which we put all the books we are currently using.  Next to it is a basket with most of our Religion books.
Along the other wall I have a cabinet that holds most of our misc. school supplies.  Tucked in between it and the wall are a couple of pillows and a blanket that the older kids sometimes use during quiet time when they are listening to audiobooks.  Next to that is a shelf that holds most of our library books (we had just returned a lot, so it is a bit sparse).  We also have several educational posters scattered about the room to help with decoration.  :)

That is our school room tour for now!  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our Schedule 2013

The first few weeks of our semester were spent trying to find a schedule that works for our family.  Finally on our 3rd week we found our rhythm.  Michaela is EXTREMELY Type A.  It's important that she has a schedule, but for my own sanity (and the reality of having little ones) I need something flexible.  We discovered that a simple pocket chart schedule works best for us.  She gets the satisfaction of seeing us complete tasks in order, and I get the satisfaction of being able to easily move tasks around when our day doesn't go as planned.

I don't have exact times for any of these, but I will post our typical order, and about how long they take.

Here is my post on curriculum if you want more information on that.  I plan on posting more in depth details of what we are learning every few weeks.

I use a basic teacher planning book to write out the details of each of our lessons.  I plan 3-4 weeks at a time, even though I have a basic idea of what we will be learning throughout the year.  Every week I also print out a sheet with the basics/title of our schedule and put it in a sheet protector.  We then cross things off as we go through them.  Sometimes I swap one thing out for another in each category - for example if I have a time-intensive Special planned for that day and the kids are just not focusing that day, I'll swap it our for something in the same category that is a bit lighter.  An example of my sheet is below:

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Our Curriculum

After months and months of stressing and planning, and re-planning, and more stressing, I finally found the curriculum that speaks to my soul.

We have decided to teach in the Charlotte Mason style, specifically using Mater Amabilis - a free online Catholic Charlotte Mason program.

What is Charlotte Mason?
"Charlotte Mason was a British educator who believed that education was about more than training for a job, passing an exam, or getting into the right college...[and] that children are able to deal with ideas and knowledge, that they are not blank slates or empty sacks to be filled with information.  She thought children should do the work of dealing with ideas and knowledge, rather than the teacher acting as a middle man, dispensing filtered knowledge.  A Charlotte Mason education includes first-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through books in each school subject, and through art, music, and poetry."

She emphasized using "living books" - books that are written by someone with a passion for the subject and that engage the mind, rather than dry textbooks.  It's a character education emphasizing the learning of good habits.  Other important characteristics are short lessons, nature study, and narration.

Here are more great links to read if you are interested in Charlotte Mason:

Michaela's Curriculum - Kindergarten - Age 5
Handwriting - We practice Manuscript handwriting using printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Once she finishes these we'll move onto a simple handwriting practice book that I purchased from Target, and eventually move on to copywork.  She also gets a bit of freeform writing practice in her phonics curriculum.

Phonics - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Math - Right Start Math

Rafael's Curriculum - Preschool Yr. 1 - Age 3
For Rafael's first of two preschool years we are starting off fairly simply.  We are doing a weekly letter, number, color, or shape.  For the alphabet we talk about the letter sound and what words start with that letter.  We also do lots of pre-writing activities such as building our letters, numbers, shapes, colors out of playdough, wikki stix, finger tracing, etc.  He probably only spends about 10-15 minutes a day on these but he enjoys them and it makes him feel like a big kid.  :)

Family Learning
Science - Living Books and Nature Study

Religion - We do bible study (Catholic Bible Stories for Children), Saints/Virtue study (living books and Virtues in Practice), Liturgical Year (living books), and Catechism study (living books, Call to Faith).

Art - Young Artist's Basics, Discovering Great Artists

Music - Teach Your Kids About Music, Living Books

We also do home ec., spanish, geography, history, poetry, music appreciation, art appreciation, PE, and health using a mixture of living books and resources I've made/found.

I hope later to post a list of the living books that we use, as well as a schedule of what our days look like.  Thanks for reading!

Why We Chose to Homeschool

There is not any one reason we chose to homeschool.  It's something that we've thought of doing for years but have been waffling back and forth on.

My husband and I are very academically minded and have never been content with the thought of sending our children to public school where their love for learning could be easily squashed.  My husband is a teacher at a public charter middle and high school and he frequently sees kids come in who don't know how to think because they have always been "taught to the test".

Religion & Character
As Catholics, we are extremely uneasy with the socialization that our children would encounter in public school.  We want them growing up deeply immersed in their faith - making it such an interwoven part of their lives that they would feel lost without it.  We don't want them learning social skills that go directly against our beliefs.  We want them growing up to be kind, loving, forgiving, engaging members of society that are on fire with their love of Christ and want to share it with the world!  While it can certainly be done in public school, I think it will be so much easier to start them off with a strong solid foundation at home. 

Those are the two main reasons and I'm sure I'll talk more about them more.  Please share any comments or questions you may have.  Thanks for reading!

In Which I Create Another Blog

I am in my first year of homeschooling and have had many friends and family members ask me about "what we do all day".  I plan to use this blog to document our homeschooling journey as well as other happenings in our lives.  Thanks for reading!