Ana's Start of a New Year Blog (2017-2018 Year)
It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow morning, we dive back into school. I’m currently praying and hoping for a good year and the patience to be the best mom and teacher possible to my threenager, however I’m aware that all the best plans can go awry if she (or her sister) wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. But, I’ve prepared as best I can, big girl britches are hitched, and here we go…
Last year, being a new homeschooling parent along with a being fairly new second time parent, I’m not afraid to admit that I fell flat on my face a good bit of the time. Aria is incredibly smart and does seem to enjoy school in spite of any of my failures in patience or conveyance of material during her Pre-K 3 year, but sometimes I am so grateful that I started her in school earlier than she should “technically” begin. I have moments where I think, “well, at least she has a buffer year if I screw everything up!” Yes, I sometimes deal with a lack of belief in myself (I am certain I am not alone in this struggle), and I question often if I am good enough to teach her well during these essential, informative years. However, I am so glad for the ways that I have grown as a parent and teacher through all of the struggles of the first year of teaching, as I think it gave me a far better idea of how to prepare for Aria’s Pre-K 4 year. I honestly believe this year is going to be a truly wonderful year, and though I wish I had done better about incorporating Bible and math into our lessons last year, I also feel grateful for how much fun we had embracing the spontaneity that school can have when you homeschool and the freedom of early childhood…rather than spending the year trapped at a desk.
Some of the changes I decided to make this year as to how we go about our school day involve adding a little bit more structure to our routine. Last year, I would pick and choose activities based on how Aria was responding to the material that day or based around the activities we had planned. This year, I wanted to make sure that I planned out activities that Aria could complete on the go, so that she is always learning (and we don’t have abrupt breaks), even when Skylar has classes to attend. While this will require more forethought and planning the night before, I think I will feel far better about balancing both my children and their needs at the same time. On the alternate side, I plan to involve Skylar more in our lessons this year, as she is in the mimicking stage and doing her best to copy everything that Aria does. Therefore, I am doing my best to make extra coloring pages and activities that Skylar can join Aria in completing. I also created a busy tray for her, with activities to fill her time with when I need to focus on Aria and Skylar needs a distraction. Only time will tell how this will go, but since morning naps are far in our rearview mirror, I must do my best to adapt to balancing the two girls.
Toward the end of the summer, the girls and I were blessed to visit Jessica, Taegan, and Dave in their beautiful home in Pittsburgh. Jessica and I used this time as our own personal homeschooling retreat (or at least, we tried to when the children allowed us the chance to work and chat together). We took the time to develop a tentative yearly plan and a homeschooling mission statement. With these items completed, I feel that I can go into the year with goals for both myself and Aria. Of course I need to have goals for what she learns and how quickly she learns information throughout the year, but our homeschooling statement was essential to reminding Jessica and I that we need to be the best parents, teachers, and most of all godly examples when life, bad attitudes, and even perhaps screaming toddlers get in the way of the best laid plans. While I am certain that my yearly plan will get changed in many ways as the year progresses and Aria proves what she can and cannot accomplish in the span of a week, I need to be ever fixated on showing compassion and unconditional love whether things are perfect or everything is falling apart. That, more than all of the rest, is my goal for this year.
I encourage all of those who read our blog to join us this year in homeschooling or parenting together through the joys, struggles, successes, and failures. We cannot promise to always be perfect teachers, writers, parents, or bloggers, but we will do our best to be honest, open, and as helpful as possible to everyone who joins us on our journey! May you not just survive this year, but may you thrive this year!
I am planning to add several outside programs into our lessons this year to make sure that I am thoroughly covering the basics outside of what we cover in our thematic lessons. So, each week, I plan to use Teach My Preschooler (math, letters, phonics) and Bob Books. I also bought a subscription to ABC Mouse for the year so that Aria can do computer lessons during downtime. Additional resources include the Preschool Prep Series DVDs, which my husband can show in the evenings that I work out, and the Signing Time: Story Time amazon video for the girls and I to learn sign language together.
Now, I will be forthright that every single one of these materials were either passed down or gifted to me other than the Teach My Preschooler kit (which I got on sale at Toys R Us) and the videos, so I am not certain on pricing and what will work for other families, but I am always one to test out and use free materials if they are available and useful! These materials won’t be mentioned in the weekly lesson plans, but I’ve mentioned when I might use different letter, phonics, and number lessons in the tentative schedule. I’ll try and update the schedule and my feelings on the materials during the course of the year.
Jessica's starting our year blog (2017-18)
Homeschooling was never a goal of mine. I wanted my daughter to spend the majority of her early years under my personal care and guidance (aka be a stay at home mom) yes, but I guess I never stopped to consider how that would translate very quickly into “teacher” status. As a person who never really enjoyed school, and adamantly asserted I would never become an educator by profession the irony of my current role is not lost on me.
Homeschooling our P-K3 year was not something I planned. We moved across country too late to enroll in most local preschool programs and since Taegan was only 2.5 at the time I just figured we’d have fun, celebrate a few themes/holidays and worry about starting school next year. The more we did however, the more I found myself wanting to teach. Not the tired sit at a desk “lessons” I remember from childhood but the things the child in all of us craves to know. Why does a bird fly? How can I become a princess? What’s it like to walk on the moon? And most importantly how do we really be successful? Sure, that last one isn’t very likely to come out of my three yr olds mouth but I see her trying every day to find happiness and still win the approval of parents, friends, etc. More than anything I want her to have a clear example and understanding of God’s definition of success. Kindness, goodness, faithfulness, forgiveness these are the things I strive to teach. Numbers and letters are just the fluff.
While I guess that puts us more in the category of “unschooler” than “homeschooler” I will say I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a friend like Ana. She’s everything I’m not. Organized, professional educator, motivated to wholeheartedly finish what she starts…Ana has challenged me to not only to stay on track with a weekly theme and achievable learning goals, she also challenged me to share these ideas with all of you. So here we go, I hope you will join us as we continue on this messy, beautiful journey toward life. My hope for us all as fellow homeschoolers is simply this; that despite the day to day difficulties, at the end of each school year we will say:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. –Robert Frost
Addendum: I have decided to enroll Taegan in a part time Montessori pre-K (3hrs for 3day wk) this year both to expand her time focusing on math/literacy (which I still kinda hate teaching) and allow me a little free time for planning our more fun curriculum. At least from my perspective, this in no way diminishes our homeschooling, it simples gives her the socialization she craves (until we can finalize our plans of fostering to adopt) while allowing me a small break of adult time. While I commend all those who homeschool multiple children and still make time for things like an organized household, I’m still just doing the best I can, and am not ashamed to say mama needs a little me time every now and then. It’s not selfish, its survival.
Please keep comments contructive
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.