May 10, 2012

What We're Doing.

Partly because I am feeling inspired, and partly because I think it might be helpful, I thought I'd post about our Home Schooling plan for the Fall.  I've actually had a surprising number of people tell me that they are either considering home schooling or wish that they could.  Perhaps it would behoove us all to share our ideas and resources!

I feel I must begin by clarifying...after some reading and looking around, it seems that my "style" of home schooling pulls from the following philosophies: Charlotte Mason, Ruth Beechick, Classical, and also a bit of "Unschooling".  Yes, I would say I'm a mix of these.

I wouldn't call my self an "unschooling" purist, by any means, because I really want my kids to know the value of following a schedule, following authority, holding to commitments, taking tests, etc.  These things will be a part of our school.  They are an important part of life.

However, the way in which unschooling seeks to foster a natural curiosity of the world and uses every day experiences to "do school" is totally up my alley.  I am a big fan of "hands-on" learning.  Let's get dirty.  One premise of unschooling is that the adult takes learning cues from the child and introduces education subjects through the child's interests.  Often when people ask me "when was school time this week?", honestly my thought is "well, there were probably about forty or fifty different school times that happened.  Some while sitting and working on something, some while driving in the van, some while playing outside, some while getting ready for bed, some over dinnertime, etc."   I am one to think that education is at its best when fitted into the larger life setting, not just in a classroom. (though there is nothing wrong with classrooms!)

About Malia: She will be 6 in August.  She is a reader and she loves to learn.  I think she is a visual learner, but I'm not exactly sure what all that means.  That is my best guess.  She is very creative and loves to do projects.

All that said, here is what I am conjuring up for next year in regards to her:

Phonics and Reading:  

I bought this about a year ago on Amazon and we're still going through it.  Will continue it next year.

And we will just keep reading.  She reads well already and loves to do it, so this will not be a problem.


As I mentioned in a previous post, this is the Math curriculum we chose.  In storybook form, we read about Fred's life and the problems he encounters along the way.  We use math to figure them out.  So math becomes pertinent to real life, not just number memorization.

We have books one and two and depending on how it goes, we could get the next one, "Cats".

(These are not written in so they can be used again and again. :)

I also plan to play Math games, with dice, or any others I find that I can do with household items.  I've made up math activities, too, that usually involve doing addition and subtraction with physical objects, so that she can see it happening.

I'm considering getting this book for some handwriting practice.  I like the idea of the book a lot.  But I'm also wondering if it is necessary, since we often make up our own writing "assignments" with her blank writing tablets (see following pictures).  One has a space at the top of the page to draw and writing lines beneath it.  I'm thinking we could do the same idea with those books that we already have.  I'm all about low maintenance.

B.T.W.  We use these Mead tablets from Wal-Mart ALL THE TIME.  Great purchase for home schooling, in my opinion.  I will regularly come up with little assignments that relate to her Phonics, Science, or a book she is reading, using these tablets.  Today I wrote a story about Aliza going on a nature walk.  Malia had to fill in the blanks with words that I wrote along the top of the page.  If the word she wrote was a Living thing, she wrote it in purple.  If it was a Nonliving thing, she wrote it in brown.  Etc. etc.  This is the type of thing my brain loves to come up with.  Am I a total nerd??


All I really know about this book is what I learned while thumbing through it at the used curriculum sale I bought it from a few weeks ago.  It was labeled a First Grade Science book.  It has simple experiments in it, which I like.  We've only used it here and there, but it has been a great addition to school so far.

Again, it is not written in, so I can use it again and again.

I bought a few biographies published by YWAM at the conference we attended.

At this age, I simply want to foster an interest in learning about people and stories in history.  I plan to use the library on this one and check out books that relate to a variety of people and happenings, such as, but not limited to:
The Great Depression,
Amy Carmichael,
C.S. Lewis,
George Mueller,
George Washington Carver,
Corrie Ten Boom
U.S. Presidents,
story of how our country began,

And that's it!  As for how many days we'll be working in each book and at what time, stay tuned.  That will get fleshed out in the months to come.  I hear that school time in the early elementary years can be done in about 2 hours a day, 4 days a week.  I anticipate using some time in the morning, and also some early afternoon time when Josie and Aliza are napping.  I am also guessing that we will focus most regularly on the Phonics/Reading and Math, and do Science and History a little less often.  Though honestly, around here we talk about something Science related almost daily.  So, the unschooling side of me says, that's Science, right?

Oh, and what will I be doing with Josie?
(She's 4.  She lives freely, joyfully, and impulsively.  She wants to do what her big sister is doing.)

With Josie, I plan to have both a Phonics workbook and a Math workbook that I will pull from probably 2-3 days a week.  I'm sure she will participate in many of the school "projects" that Malia does, because she'll want to, and I say, "hey, why not?"

She also has 3-4 other little friends with Mamas who want to home pre-school them, so we are planning to do some sort of preschool co-op or rotation between us about once a week.

Recent fun:
Monday we spontaneously picked up and went to the Zoo.  Today the girls are making Animal Books that they saw in this book from the library, using some information that we wrote down from the zoo exhibits.  Well, actually, Malia's book is an Animal Book.  Josie's has turned into a doodling book. :)  Love that girl.

Feel free to ask questions if any of that didn't make sense or if you think I'm totally off my rocker.  I've never done this before, so I'm learning as I go!


  1. Thanks for posting this, Erika. I, too, am thinking about homeschooling. It feels a little overwhelming, but I've got a few other moms who are helping me think through it. I've got so many things I'm thinking about on both sides of the debate.. Anyway, I love how simple and fun you made it sound.

  2. Sounds great! And might I add that I am super impressed you already know what your doing next fall. I'm just focusing on finishing up this year! :) I lean pretty heavily towards Charlotte Mason but, like you, I love hands on stuff. Your doing a great job!

  3. How exciting! I love hearing your enthusiasm and observing the ways you teach your girls as you go about life with them.

  4. Erika, I have a degree in geography and am very passionate about children learning the concepts of space, place and the people that live in them. If you ever want to incorporate these ideas into your learning, I would love, love, love to come up with activities or find materials to help you. I am very inspired by this post, as I am hoping to homeschool my family in the elementary years as well.