Monday, October 12, 2015

Homeschool in Our Home Part 2

Sometimes I've been asked at what age I begin my children's education...uh, when they're born? My goals during "kindergarten", as I told my friend recently, are 1) learn how to read, which can take up to three years (barring unexpected circumstances such as trying to teach them when they're not ready to learn or a condition such as dyslexia which would cause the process to take longer), 2) familiarity with numbers and basic addition, and 3) learning to love learning. Everything else is meant to help you accomplish those 3 goals. But really, I set them up for these three achievements from the time they're born by counting snaps on their onesies, singing the alphabet while washing their hands, reading books aloud, reading more books aloud, engaging their curiosity, and so much more.
My friend and I were chatting about what resources I used when my older daughters were officially beginning to homeschool. Many of these sites are ones I still use; others I will want to remember in a couple years when my third daughter is ready to begin officially schooling. Since I typed up the list anyway, I figured I would record it here as well, for my future reference and for anyone else who might find it useful. I also sent her links for some local resources that our family has used or that I have thought of using but haven't actually taken advantage of yet: mainly local homeschool groups, a local homeschool conference, and our local YMCA, where my daughters have taken a "swim and gym" class several times now.
. (This was my main resource for our alphabet books. I printed off maybe 5-10 different coloring page/tracing page/activity sheets and when the girls finished them I punched holes in the pages and in two pieces of construction paper. The construction paper provided the cover for their books, I helped them sew through the holes with yarn and a plastic tapestry needle to bind the book together, and then they and/or I wrote a title and their name on the front cover. They had the option of decorating the cover with a picture and I wrote the date in a corner.) (This site has a lot of complementary activities: coloring pages, Christmas cards and tags, preschool puzzle pages, etc. I've used them sometimes to help fill out the alphabet books that we made and to make Christmas cards/tags/thank yous printed on cardstock and colored for relatives.) (This is honestly my favorite homeschool website right now. Her biweekly podcasts have so much good in them and usually include interviews with high profile homeschool experts I had previously not heard of but immediately discover I need to learn more about.) (Not directly homeschooling, but rather Catholic family culture, the "mother" Leila homeschooled all her own children and has a lot of advice, whether you want it or not, about teaching, reading, family prayers, reading lists, etiquette, home management, raising boys to be men, and anything else you let her give her opinion on. Three of her grown daughters, with young children of their own now, share the blog with her.) (The Holy Hero kids share most weeks a short video illustrating the Sunday Gospel reading, a coloring page, and a short quiz. Most helpful of all, though, is their Advent Adventure with daily videos, coloring pages, activity pages, audio rosary decades, and audio saint stories. My kids LOVE these. I put together a Jesse Tree with coloring pages before I knew about Holy Heroes, but now we do a combo of the two since everything is assembled for the Holy Heroes but they don't have any women in their ornaments. They also have a Lenten Adventure similar to the Advent Adventure. Both adventures include a variety of ideas for Catholic seasonal activities, most of which we don't do, but we get a lot out of them without the extra activities.) (Although I don't use their curriculum, I try to plant their book suggestions on our shelves, or in my daughter's Kindle, or through audio books resources. I review their lists regularly so my kids are exposed to those appropriate to their grade level. I find many more books on many more book lists, but the ones on this list are a solid beginning and after all, if the particular book is free on Kindle or available through our library, why not? If we study it together later on, then they'll already be more prepared by having read it first by themselves. If we don't, their literary knowledge will be more complete for having read it by themselves than if they had never seen it before in their lives.)

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