As I write this, we are social distancing due to the Coronavirus. I am a speech language pathologist as well as a homeschooling mom to two little girls, ages three and five. Staying home is not new to us but it definitely has been challenging, even for me as a homeschool mom. I’m so thankful we live in Florida and the temps have been warm, because we’ve been basically in our swimsuits outside playing with our water table all week long!
A little background & our homeschooling story
I’ve been a speech language pathologist for 14 years and ever since my oldest child was born, I’ve worked very part-time. I never thought I would homeschool until last year. Sweet Pea (our nickname for my oldest) was in preschool and she loved it and did great but it was hard for me to balance everything. She only went 3 hours a day from 9am-12pm but it was a lot of back and forth driving, we were a few minutes late most mornings, and I had a toddler at home. Not only that, I was working one day a week at a school so I would drop Sweet Pea off at preschool, head to my school and see a few clients, then drive back to pick her up before 12:10 so I would not get charged! We would then head home for lunch, then I would head back out to see more kiddos for speech! It was stressful to say the least!
I did enjoy the preschool program though and Sweet Pea learned a lot! She definitely had a wonderful foundation, passed all her little preschool tests with flying colors and was definitely ready for kindergarten. Her teacher was amazing and I loved the staff. Pumpkin (our youngest) will probably attend preschool there in a few years. We are praying and taking it year by year.
By the end of the school year, after much prayer, my husband and I decided to homeschool. I just wanted a slower pace to life. My sister had been homeschooling for years so I felt like I kind of knew where to start and it was only kindergarten! Surely, I could handle that, right?! That summer, we got plugged into a local Classical Conversations community, attended a few play dates, and then school began in August! Our community comes together once a week during the school year and we review the material together (math, Latin, History, geography, science, timeline), do art projects, learn to play the tin whistle, learn how to present and speak in front of others (basically show and tell), and do science experiments. It usually lasts for about 3 hours and then we all go outside to play and have lunch.
On the days we are not in homeschool co-op, we focus on the 3 “R’s”: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. We probably do about an hour to an hour and a half of school work a day. We review the memory work from Classical Conversations and then we move into our academics. My daughter is five and I heard somewhere that if you add a “0” to their age, that’s about the time you should focus on school work so for her, it would be about 50 minutes a day. For a 6-year-old, it would be 60 minutes, a 7-year-old, 70 minutes, and so forth. That was pretty helpful info for this homeschool newbie!
I also didn’t know where to begin with curriculum, but luckily my sister came to the rescue and recommended what she had been using so we basically went with that! For math, I am using Horizons. I reallllly like it and so does Sweet Pea. I ordered Book 1 for Kindergarten off of Amazon at the beginning of the year and she flew through that. Mid-year, we ordered Book 2. It’s definitely more challenging but she is able to do it. We do a lesson a day and the speech pathologist mom in me sometimes adds in mini erasers or pom poms to work on adding/subtracting, and odd/even numbers. Trying to keep it fun!
I was a little nervous about teaching reading, even with my background in speech pathology. I had been hearing great reviews about the book, “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” It had good reviews on Amazon so I ordered that as well. We are currently on Lesson 60, but we are taking our time because it says by the time your child finishes the book, he or she will be on a 2nd grade reading level. It's definitely challenging but Sweet Pea has become a very good reader! And she is comprehending well too which makes me happy. On other days we might read BOB books from the library or I may pull out some rhyming flashcards and we read the words printed on them.For handwriting, we are just doing a handwriting and printing book and she works on tracing letters and words and we work on spacing. It’s pretty basic. I got my handwriting book on Amazon but I’m sure there are little workbooks at the Dollar Store.
We really keep things pretty simple around here but I do have a general structure to our days. At the beginning of the year I complied a little schedule to keep me organized. It’s not set in stone but I like having a general idea as to how our day is going to go. In general, we try to get our academics done in the morning so the rest of our day is free to play and do errands and chores. One day a week we go to the library, one day we might meet friends for a play date, and one day we might go to the park. I still work two times a week for a couple of hours outside of the home so on those days my husband may work with her or I split the school work into morning and afternoon times. I also create speech & language resources at home and have an online store so I live for that nap time/quiet time hustle!
8:00: wake up, get dressed, make beds
8:30: Breakfast and devotions
9:00-11:00: Academics (Memory work from community day, reading, writing, math)
11:00-12:30: Snack, outside time, free play, errands (library, play date, park, etc.)
12:30-1:00: TV time
2:00-4:00: Quiet time / Mama work time
4:00-5:30: Free play, read books
5:30-6:00: TV time
6:30-7:30: Outside time/family walk