School days

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” – Mrs. Whatsit

~Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Months ago, when I sat down to plan our homeschool journey,  I had lots of ideas and expectations as to how our school day would run. In my mind, we would be up by 7:00am everyday, eat breakfast, get ready and start school no later than 8:00am.

Fast forward to February and this schedule has never happened.

With living in such close quarters, we tend to orbit around each other all night, getting very little quiet or alone time. The kids end up staying up well past 10:00pm every night which makes getting up before 8:00am extremely difficult. We tried reconditioning the kids, but we just decided to surrender.

Also, I figured, we have all day to homeschool so what’s the rush?  It actually feels more natural to start later (9:30/10:00) and work farther into the afternoon, taking a few breaks along the way.

With that being said, we still adhere to a schedule.  The plan is to send the kids to public school in the fall, so we want to maintain somewhat of a structured school environment.  Sophie and Elsa write in planners, manage their time and stick to project and assignment deadlines.

I let the kids work wherever they like.  Elsa enjoys her fortress of solitude, while Sophie prefers the table with a nice, cold beverage.

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When I was teaching in San Diego, I created my own writing and literature curriculum for middle school.  Since we weren’t constrained by a textbook, I could tailor the curriculum to fit the needs of my classroom as well as my students. I saw the benefits and the learning that took place and because of this I don’t use a “traditional” textbook curriculum with my girls.

I use the US Common Core Standards as a road map, but have subsequently created my own curriculum for each of my girls, across all subject areas. The best resource out there BY FAR is from Teachers Pay Teachers.  Where was this company when I was teaching 15 years ago?  In addition to materials gathered from TPT, we use other supplemental curriculum as well as various books and novels.  The girls are still working from their math books/curriculum they started in California as well as a vocabulary program called Wordly Wise.

One set of materials I absolutely love are the magazine subscriptions through Scholastic.  As a parent you can purchase a subscription for one teacher guide and a magazine.  From art to reading and math, there is a magazine for every subject and each grade level.  Sophie subscribed to Scholastic Art and Scope and Elsa gets Super Science and Dyna Math.  I could go on and on about how comprehensive and valuable the activities are that go along with these magazines but I digress.  In simple terms, they are rad and I highly recommend them as a teacher and mom.

Ultimately, the biggest challenge of homeschooling is managing Ellinor and Soren. The kids are wonderfully patient and helpful but occasionally we have to get creative….like hockey and French Duolingo in the hallway.

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I look at this homeschool moment as a way to foster my girls’ interests but also to strengthen areas that may have been neglected.  I want to send Sophie and Elsa off to school in the fall, fully prepared, more than capabale and ready to kick ass.

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