The Maia Homeschool Adventure

Over the years, I have done many educational activities with my girls. At first it was with just Amelia. As much fun as we had, I swore I would never homeschool. I was totally fine doing the preschool work with her. But never homeschool beyond that.

Well, never say never, right? 

About two years ago, I realized that homeschooling was something that we actually needed to conisder. It kept seeming like the best option for Amelia and our family as a whole. So in January 2015, we went for it. Most of our school time was highly inspired by the Montessori method. We held to that method as best as we could. But as the educational needs in our children increased, so did the amount of Montessori materials and space for materials. This was not working for our budget! It wasn't working for our 1000 sq ft house. I needed school materials to take up less space. Therefore, I found it necessary to shift gears a bit.

With the generous help of my dear friend, Anna, we have found curriculums that promote the multi-sensory experience that my girls loved with Montessori. The curriculums we're using are much easier to track with and plan for which is so important now that I've got three kiddos involved in the process.

While we aren't following any Montessori currently, there are still some ways that we incorporate Montessori into our daily lessons. This is seen mainly with Elsie and Isla. At the end of this series, I will share how we do school time with the little ones which will include these Montessori practices.

With all that, I would love to give a glimpse into what our homeschool experience is like currently in Fall 2016. However, as I write this out, I'm realizing this post could get lengthy with all that information. What I'll do is create a series with multiple posts that highlight different aspects of our homeschool day. So let's dive in!

In the series, we will cover:
1. The Maia Homeschool Adventure (you're reading that now)
2. Math
3. Reading
4. Science
5. Bible
6. What About Little Ones?!

Our School Year

The structure I have taken on this school year was majorly inspired by some ideas I had read on Sarah McKenzie's blog as well as the book she wrote, "Teaching From Rest" (if you haven't read this, I highly recommend you DO). Currently, we are doing four weeks of school work (aka a "term") for every 1 week of break time. We've done one round and it was golden! Four weeks was just the right amount of time to enjoy new lessons but not get too burned out on the constant go-go of school days. By time it came, I really appreciated the week break to gather new materials and prepare for the next 4 weeks, which we are in now!

A fun way we have decided to celebrate completing these terms is use a countdown sticker chart. Once it's full, we have a family outing. Last week, we did donuts before our school day started. The girls had a blast! And they really look forward to their daily sticker.

our fun outing for completing 4 weeks of school!
happy tot!!
Another perk with having our calender set up this way is that we have breaks during the major holidays. This helps me feel really organized and keeps our schedule predictable. But it still gives the freedom for us to learn at our own pace within the weeks we do have school. Plus, since we don't have a lot of homeschooling friends quite yet, it's nice that our schedule is somewhat matching up with the kids who attend school around us. This means Amelia will still get to enjoy time with friends during breaks without me getting stressed about missing our school time.

Our Weekly Routine

I try to do school in the morning, Monday-Friday. Some days we get through all of our subjects. Other days we only do math. It really depends on what is going on that day. If there is a play date or outing of some sort, we do what we can. Because of the planned out curriculums I'm using, it's not a big deal if we "miss a day" because we are so easily able to pick up where we left off. So far, I have not noticed any major hiccups with this. The lessons still feel cohesive and Amelia is progressing wonderfully!

Rarely will I ever do structured school during the afternoon. This just means I'm not doing a lesson from the books at the table. Quite frankly, everyone is usually super tired by the afternoon. The girls typically fill their afternoons with imaginative play or drawing/coloring. I might read to them or we might have outdoor play. It's definitely still considered "school time" as we firmly believe they're learning the whole day long!

One new thing I have been trying this fall is to limit screen time to only our weekends. On the weekends, we tend to enjoy slow movie times together. And some weekends, I've even noticed that the screen isn't really desired. So we just end up playing and relaxing, with no school agenda to tend to! This has been a *really* hard habit to form but it has helped tremendously with clear focus during the week, including for myself. Of course, we're not perfect so every now and then, they'll have some screen time on school days.

Keeping Track of Lesson Progression

If you know me just a little bit, I love checklists and productivity. As much my girls thrived with Montessori, I found it so difficult to keep track of lesson completion. This was so discouraging for me! I knew my girls were learning. I could see it in their daily interactions and such. But even still, I needed a tangible thing to help me see that yes, we were accomplishing things! I feel like we have found a really great compromise in the way we are doing school now.

Another tip I learned from Sarah Mckenzie... writing down the day's lessons in a notebook each day! At some point during the day, I go to my teacher's manuals and/or lesson guides for the subjects I'm teaching. Then I just write down the next thing! When the lesson is completed, I check it off/cross it out. If we don't complete it, I put an arrow through the line which signals me to move it to the next day we do school. Eventually Amelia and her sisters will be able to self manage their lessons a bit more. My goal is to have a notebook like this for each kiddo so they can open up it each day and see what they have to do. This will help encourage self pacing and allow the ability to choose what they do and when during our day.

I never imagined that we would be where are now with homeschooling. But I'm so thankful for the opportunity! We have grown so much as a family because of it. No matter where you find yourself in your own journey, I hope you can find something helpful from me sharing ours! 

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