From a Homeschool Grad Turned Homeschool Mom
Caroline, 4 months
Our Homeschool Routine:
Before Rachel turned 4, we had a very casual “pre-school” experience over here. We discussed shapes, letters, numbers, and colors, yet it didn’t feel official. Now with Jemima heading toward K4, and Rachel turning 5 in a few months, we decided it is time to officially begin homeschooling.
For us, that meant ordering textbooks and developing a scheduled routine that we follow every weekday morning. Having an hour of structured school time every morning has benefited us so much! Instead of running off to play after breakfast, the girls know that it’s school time! And we all honestly look forward to it.
By the way, I’m not at all a creative person. That’s why I like textbooks and charts and schedules. I admire those women who can think of all sorts of creative crafts and methods to teach their kids! But for me… this is what I’ve found that works, and I’m excited to share it with you!
K3 [i.e., What Jemima Does]
-Number recognition from 1-10
When I was first teaching Rachel, we worked very diligently on the letter names, and then we ran into confusion when she started to read. So with Jemima, I’m teaching the letter sounds first!
We use flashcards for both her numbers and letters.
K5 [i.e., What Rachel Does]
I found that once Rachel had the letter sounds cemented in her mind, reading was an easy transition. I started off with Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and I liked it, but only up to a certain point. We switched over to A Handbook for Reading (published by ABeka), and I much prefer it.
Why? Because I feel like the rules for reading are better explained.
Here’s a sample page:
So basically, after learning the rule (e.g. the second vowel is silent, the first vowel is long), there is a whole page of examples of how that rule is used. Rachel will read through each page day after day until she can read the words quickly and confidently, and then we move onto the next page. As for the other textbooks we use…
I grew up using ABeka, so that’s what I’m most comfortable with. Just as a warning: I would not recommend ABeka’s Social Studies K5 book. It’s too simple. I think children have the capacity to learn and memorize so much, and this book feels like a waste of time.
-Number recognition from 1-100
Again, we use flashcards and we review, review, review. We saw huge improvement in this area when we introduced counting by 10s, to 100. Once she was able to recognize the multiples of 10, it made recognizing a specific number (such as 76) easier, because she already knew to say “seventy…”
*What the Girls Learn Together*
One terrific aspect of having children 13 months apart, is that they’re close enough in age that they can learn many things together! It takes Jemima a little longer than Rachel to catch on to concepts or to memorize, but she wants to do everything that Rachel does… so there’s plenty of motivation there!
-Counting by 10s to 100
I just mentioned this above, but yes, the girls actually learn this together. I printed a chart that we have taped inside our kitchen cabinets, and the girls look at the chart and recite their “10s” every morning.
-Memorizing the 7 Continents
The girls point to the continents on a world map, and recite, “The world has 7 continents: North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.”
-Bible Verse Memorization
Every two weeks, they have a new verse to memorize, and then we’re always reviewing their past verses.
-Learning the States and Capitals
We’re learning five new states and capitals per week. I’ll say, “Montgomery?” And the girls reply, “Montgomery, Alabama,” and so on.
-Reciting the US Presidents’ Names in Order
I remember having to recite this in junior high or high school. I’m thrilled about giving my girls a head start on this!
-Memorizing the Preamble
This was one of our first memorization projects, and it inspired me to make memorization and recitation an important part of our morning routine. As young as our kids are now, I want to encourage them towards being confident in a public speaking setting–to present information in a clear, articulate fashion.
So whenever they’re reciting anything they’ve memorized, I always require that they’re standing still, making eye contact, and speaking confidently and clearly. I hope this doesn’t sound silly. Yes, I know that I’m talking about a 3 and 4 year old here, but I’m all about instilling good habits and character qualities that hopefully will grow and develop in our children as they grow and mature!
One more question, that I’m sure some of you moms are wondering…
What Does Matthias Do??
Yes, what DOES he do, while the girls are working on school?
We do a lot of coloring around here, and Matthias is no exception. I bought a small dry erase board (at a dollar store), and he will sit and doodle on that for a while… or he plays with his mini toolset. Sometimes he’ll just sit and watch, especially when I’m practicing the girls’ flashcards. Of course, there are times that he wanders around bored, too, which is why we don’t always do all of our school activities in one sitting. Life happens, and I need to take “feed Caroline” breaks or “read to Matthias” breaks or “put chicken in the crockpot” breaks.
I’m sure that our little “routine” will change… but this is what we’re doing for now!
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