I thought I would go into a bit more detail about what we actually do during our structured learning time. We have tried a few different things since we started homeschooling…..I guess that’s pretty normal for newbie homeschoolers, until you find what is going to work for your family and even then it will change as the kids get older…… BUT……..this year has been pretty smooth sailing and I am sure its because we have found our homeschool rhythm lol and relaxed into a good daily routine. Sure…not everyday goes according to plan, but, on the whole it has been a wonderful and rewarding year for all of us.
I really wanted to keep things as hands on as possible and not do too much book work. My goal is for us to all be together as much as possible, learning along side each other. This is a hard thing to achieve with toddlers around, but I am determined!!! I have set up a Montessori style shelf for hands on activities. This is mainly set up for the younger kids but of course anyone can do the activities. This is what it looks like at the moment.
I have to keep it pretty simple so little miss can help herself while I am busy with the others. As she gets older I will include more complicated activities but for now its lots of puzzles and a bit of fine motor work. Next year I will include some more activities on the shelves specifically for my prep guy, age 5.
Anyway….. this is how our days have been flowing this year.
At about 9am, when I have a large coffee in my hand, we head into our homeschool room, which is also our craft room and play room. It is sort of divided into 2 halves. One side is set up with the toy kitchen, story books, toys etc and the other is more where we do our structured activities and and keep our reference books, pens, paper and other resources.
We settle around the big table with pencils and some paper or colouring in and the kids draw or colour while I read to them. This is a bit of a new thing, as the boys have never really been into coloring in or even drawing but lately they have been really keen, so they just go for it while I read to them about our current topic of interest.
I guess we sort of do “unit studies” but in a relaxed kind of way. They pick a topic they would like to learn about and I provide books, projects, worksheets or games etc for them to do. We usually stay on one topic for about a month and then move onto something else. Sometimes we do a short one for a week or so, It really depends on the topic and the interest of the kids. You can read more about what we did for our last unit study here. We all enjoy this part of the morning and it is such a great way to cover different subject areas and different age groups at the same time. During this time I have started to include some character work. I printed out some character cards from the Montessori print shop and we have been reading through them together each morning. They have some amazing printables and some are free. You can check them out here.
Next year I plan to extend this morning time a bit to include some calendar activities for Xev who will be joining in with us more next year. I am still setting up our calendar board to suit us and organize the things we need for it.
The first part of our morning usually lasts for about an hour and then its time for a snack break and time to stretch our legs.
When we have filled our tummies and I have made another coffee, we go back into the room and start on our “workboxes”. If you are a homeschooler you probably know what this is but if you don’t, basically its a set of draws or shelves set up with different activities and books for the kids to work through at their own pace and when everything is completed they are done for the day. Ours look like this.
When I first read about workboxes I really wanted to try it and I have to say, it has worked really well for us so far. The kids love working through the different activities and seeing how much they have done and how much they have left to do for the day. I change the activities each day to keep it interesting. I include hands on activities for different subject areas, books of interest, puzzles and some book work for Maths and Language arts. Using Workboxes means the kids can do some of their work independently which is so helpful when you have other children needing you throughout the morning. Here are some of the activities currently in our workboxes.
They usually have about 6 draws to complete including 1 maths activity and 1 or 2 for language arts. If we are tired from a big week then we do less. There is no point in pushing tired kids and there is always time to catch up another time.
Once they have completed their workboxes, its time to pack up whatever has been pulled out over the morning. We all do this together so its ready for any other projects or activities the kids want to do later in the day.
And that’s it for our structured activities. The afternoons are for the kids to do what ever they want. Sometimes it is playing outside, swimming, going for a walk or heading out somewhere. This afternoon our homeschool room looked like this….
I love the freedom and flexibility that homeschooling gives us. We take days off when ever we feel like it. Earlier this year we took about a month off for our trip to the snow. We take holidays when ever it suits our family which means we usually keep doing schoolwork through normal school holidays and that works well for us at this time.
I love this path we have found ourselves on. We never planned to homeschool our kids but at least for now I couldn’t imagine it any other way.