When Wee One #1 was still wee (he’s 12 now), I had big plans to homeschool him and any other children we’d have. I thought it was better than traditional school for so many reasons – I could tailor the lessons to make sure it sinks in, I could spend extra time on concepts that are harder than others, blah, blah, blah. So when school age started creeping up on us, I was voted down – overwhelmingly – by my husband and both our families. As the only one who thought this was a good idea, I wasn’t winning anyone over. Over the years, I got into the swing of school and though I always supplemented their educations with lessons to drive the point in at home, I started to agree with everyone that traditional school was better, at least for us.
Fast forward eight years from when our first child started kindergarten, we now have a 7th grader, a 2nd grader and our wee-est one is officially preschool age.
As anyone who reads this blog is painfully aware, we have all moved from Canada to the States and we did it 3/4 of the way through the school year (and the school year is different in these countries too). For reasons ranging from ease of transition for the kids, to initially thinking we were only going to be down here for 6 months, we decided to homeschool while in California and then put them back in their tiny rural school of 35 kids when we moved back to Canada. Now that we know we’re going to be here for a few years it would make sense to put them in school, right? Except the homeschooling experience has been so wonderful we have decided to keep it up the whole time we’re down here. And interestingly (oddly too, maybe) that my husband, and both our families are encouraging me to homeschooling. Telling me all the things I told them six years ago. Ha! Well, whatever the reason for the collective change of heart, I’m happy to have everyone on board with this.
Gym in the pool? Yes, please!
We are following Ontario curriculum even though we’re in California because technically we are here on a temporary Visa and we are permanent residences of Ontario, with permission from our local school board in Ontario to homeschool. The nice thing about that though is the flexibility it provides. We will keep French as our second language and keep Canadian geography and history, but we are also adding in some Spanish and American geography and history as well.
I think the best thing about this decision are all the options for styles of teaching and books to use and extra subjects to cover! Ontario curriculum lists learning sheet music, but the instrument you use is up to you, same goes for the core subjects. The kids will use math textbooks for learning math, but we will learn all of our science curriculum through experiments and field studying and I have added nutrition and environmental awareness to our list of subjects as well. The kids love all of it – they get to choose their books for free reading and pick from a list I chose for literature. Win-win!
Here are some of the books we are using this term, I don’t love classic textbooks for most subjects because they all assume that kids know nothing about the subject at all or that they need to be drilled the information in a way that most kids (at least my kids) find frustrating. I have no doubt we will be adding more to this collection, but these are the ones we are starting with. Some are general enough for both of our older kids, but most are for one or the other.
This is the year that Wee One #3 would be starting preschool, but it doesn’t make sense to me to put her in preschool here if the other two are at home anyway, so I’m going to ‘officially’ start her preschool at home this fall. Though honestly, we read and sing and count and color all the time anyway, the major difference with adding the word officially in there is that I’ll be deliberately teaching her specific things. Her books and her materials will be a lot different. I will be making homemade playdoh every other day like I did with Wee One #1 when he was little and now that I know how to make chalk and paint, there will be a whole lot of that going on too. I’m looking forward to documenting and blogging about it in the coming months as well!
As far as scheduling goes, when we first started I tried every subject, every day. It worked for a while but sometimes you just need more time for certain things. This term I’m breaking up the day into 45 minute blocks – with an hour long block for swimming in the middle of the day and the kids will start sports and formal lessons in whatever physical activity they choose at the YMCA this fall.
We have joined two homeschooling groups in LA, though we’ve only been out to meet up with one of them. They are the sweetest and most supportive group of moms I’ve been around in a very, very long time. A lot of them are from out of state also and they are all so welcoming. Most importantly, the kids have made friends which was my only real concern with homeschooling. With that out of the way, I’m hella excited about this year – especially field trips! Here is a list of the places we’ll be going on field trips this year, some we’ve already been to but it’s worth going back!