Well, the new normal that is, if that's what you call this.
Mr Barefoot is back at work, we're back to school, back to naps on schedule, back to laundry and dishes and chores... back to "normal."
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I have come to love homeschooling. It took time to get there though.When we first decided to homeschool in September of this past year, I was not ready or even excited to be honest. We had put Gymnast into a comunity nature preschool and it was amazing! I suddenly had a taste of kids being gone for portions of the day and I selfishly REALLY wanted more of that! Plus Gymnast was thriving. Why would we take him out? Well - it was a lot of different things that pushed us to do it, but I remember so plainly the day Mr.Barefoot told me "I think the Lord is telling us we need to homeschool." I was shocked. I had been the one to push homeschooling in the beginning and he had said probably not. I felt like I had to grieve the "no," but also trust that my husband wanted what was best for our kids too. And pray that if the Lord wanted us to homeschool he would change my husband's mind. Well, I guess God wanted us to homeschool. ;)
When I first started I just pieced together my own curriculum based on boxes and boxes of things a few generous "been there done that" homeschoolers had gifted us. But I quickly found this too overwhelming. It was about in October when my PPD was ramping up again, I was dealing with a super stressful family engagement with family who isn't always the easiest to get along with, and feeling like I was failing my son and it would be better just to send him to public school - at least he wouldn't become a sociopath then since thats obvioulsy what I was turning him into at home...
I decided to give it one last try with a premade curriculum and after ordering EVERY homeshool catalog (I had NO idea there were SO MANY options!!) I decided on My Father's World. It's a Christian Charlotte Mason based Unit Study approach.That might be Homeschool-ish-anese to you - it would have been to me back in Otober but as you jump in on the homeschool train you pick up the language pretty quickly and before long find you're fluent in it yourself too. At least I did, but I've always been pretty good at languages ;)
I got the Kindergarten program for Gymnast and the Preschool program for Twinkles. Gymnast ended up FLYING through the K program. I LOVED MFW. I felt like it did such a great job at presenting letters and sounds in a fun and age appropriate way. Very impressed. But - what now? Gymnast was done! And ready for MORE! I began looking around again. I wasn't too impressed with the MFW 1st grade program, nor did I think Gymnast was ready for it yet. I want to be clear that I'm sure that the 1st grade program is great - it just wasn't something I really wanted to teach my kids yet. It was focused on US History and I really want to hold off on US history for awhile so that I can present a more "real" version of history when they are a bit older and able to comprehend more. For now I really want to develop a worldview focused on other countries and cultures.
I also wanted something more literature heavy than what MFW offered (they have a program called the "Book Basket" - utilizing your library to fill in the literature gaps - which in theory is a great idea but it didn't work for my family for multiple reasons). So I began looking through my catalogs again.
After lots of debating, I settled on Sonlight. And WOW. I am IN LOVE. Sonlight brought back the love of learning for myself and my kids. Actually MFW brought back the love of learning and my confidence back as a capable teacher for my children, and Sonlight just exponentially raised my confidence. I might be a Sonlight Mom for life now...not sure. Now - I don't follow everything in the Teacher's Guide, and I have pulled what I want to teach and left what I don't - thats the great thing about homeschooling. And most importantly, Gymnast is thriving!
So back to today - school!
We usually get our "table subjects" done - meaning the subjets that my son is actively inolved in - math, writing etc. Then I let him do legos or some hand manipulative activity while we do our reading - history, poetry and read alouds.
Read alouds are one of my favorite parts of our day - especially when we get past the history parts. Currently we're reading "Here's a Penny" - about a little boy who is adopted. We are just getting started but it has initiated many great conversations already.
Generally while Gymnast is doing his Math-U-See work, I will get Twinkles started on his work. He is just beginning to be exposed to the letters and sounds of the alphabet. Today we went on a Voyage! I am still using the MFW curriculum with him, but have supplemented a lot of the Pre-K 4/5 Sonlight books for him. The Pre-k 4/5 program is "Beginner Chapter Books." I am pretty impressed with what my 4 year old can sit through. We are reading through many books without pictures even which I would have NEVER guessed he would be capable of. Our favorite is The Adventures of Uncle Wiggly - it's a book about a Gentleman Rabbit who helps boys and girls in his "neighborhood." Twinkles always asks for another story once we've finished the last. I think its more my voice giving out that stops us rather than Twinkles being bored.
He also has a few workbooks I ordered from "His Rod and Staff" books. They were cheap for the whole set and full of all kinds of fine motor activites and information. He has gotten really good at independtly working which I'm thankful for. I know with 4 kids each learning at their own pace will get harder each year and I will need the older ones to be able to work independly at times.
Oragutan uses a book from His Rod and Staff too. Its just a Bible Story book linked with a coloring book. She loves to color, especially with the color pink and wants SO BADLY to do school, so we do bible reading and coloring.
And Little Love just runs around wreaking havoc on everything, like always. ha. I usually have to find her something "just for her" to help her feel included and important. If I don't get something specific for her, she will do anything and everything to get my attention - hitting, throwing, having a ginormous tantrum, digging in the trash, spitting etc. She has learned quite quickly what things get my immediate attention. Remember when I said the child that has taught me about prayer..? Yep. Lord, help me!
I made up 5 different sensory boxes a few weeks ago and Little Love seems to like the "Peanut Farm" one the best. I'm not sure if its beause she can eat the peanuts or if she actually prefers the texture of the peanuts vs some of the other options I have: beans, flax seeds, rice ...). These have been a life saver for morning homeschool.
I find that some mornings I want to pull my hair out with how crazy things get but that at the end of the day I am so thankful I get this opportunity. And when the lightbulb goes on - I get to see it!
Another thing I love about homeschooling is we get to go at our pace (with limitations of course.) On a day to day basis this means Gymnast gets to take a "brain break" as we call it if he needs to. Today we finished everything up in one sitting except one problem on his math worksheet - filling in the numbers between 0 and 20. He wrote in a few numbers but then said he needed a break. Absolutely bud! Go run in the sunshine, play with legos, turn your brain off "school" for a while.
Can you see the kids have got the social distancing thing down pat now? ;)
And while the kids are brain resting, I get my workout in! Today was 80s day in my workout group :) Gotta make it fun in there too right?
I'm really enjoying working out and eating right - almost a week now! I can tell in even just a week how much stronger I've gotten - it's exciting! And following the P10 Diet has been great! I have loads of energy, can think clearly, am able to get so much more done in one day, and I'm sleeper harder at night. I HIGHLY recomend checking out the book :)
But I'll save an update on that for a different blog :)