FIRST YEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING UPDATE

Well, we are nearing the end of our first year of homeschooling in the next few months and I realized I have never let you all know how it has been going for us.  Quite honestly it has been a bit of a transition, having a little boy in Kindergarten and a girl in Preschool.  Although I have been told by many other home school moms to ease into Kindergarten, there still is a lot riding on my shoulders.  Quite honestly if you look at the public schools, the kids come out of Kindergarten with a lot of them reading long picture books or short chapter books.  This seems to have changed so much since I was in Kindergarten.  I remember learning all of my letters in Kindergarten and getting the basics to reading.  Although I think it’s amazing that some kids are taking off with reading, I get nervous that not all kids are ready for it.  Such as my little Tater Bug.  I tried starting last year with Preschool teaching him his letters and sounds and I felt like I was banging my head on a wall.  I could go over and over them and he JUST.WASN’T.READY.  And I recognized that being a teacher.  So we stopped, and at the beginning of this year, in Kindergarten, we started with letters.

I must say that all kids are different, because Kynlee on the other hand has been learning hand in hand with Tate and it clicked.  And shes 15 months younger.  So quite honestly, I push Tate a little bit harder, but Kynlee is doing a  lot of Kindergarten as well.  So here’s how we started Kindergarten.

1.)  With huge hopes and unrealistic expectations and 5 different books on teaching kids to read:)

2.)  Then I started over and went to the basics.  If I could recommend 2 great teaching tools I would tell you a good set of flashcards and a white board.  We used Hooked on Phonics flashcards that came with the Pre-K pack.

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It’s available on walmart.com for under $20 and it also came with a great DVD that had the alphabet song that really helped my kiddos learn the sounds of the letters, as well as upper and lower case.  Quite honestly though, that’s all we used from this pack.  We used the flashcards every day, introducing 1-2 new letters a week.  Some letters the kids new better than others and we could get through 4 letters some weeks, but with the flashcards we would play games, having to match the upper, lower, and letter sound for each letter.  Once we got those down we just drilled the letters and sounds day after day until they mastered them.  This took us about the first 3 months of school.  While we were doing this we were also working on our math and counting as well.

After the kids knew all of their letters and sounds, everything else was so much easier.  I must say, since teaching I knew what I liked and didn’t like.  I realized that a lot of the Kindergarten curriculum sets had way too much fluff for me.  Although I love all of the games and coloring and activities, I felt like my kiddos got that throughout the day anyway.  I didn’t want to spend another 4 hours a day coloring pages that and making activities that chances were we were going to do one way or another throughout the day.  So I went on blogs and saw what people like and didn’t like, and bought way too many things books on teaching your kids to read, but ironically, we ended up using them all.  So this is what we use on a daily basis.

We started with this Scholastic workbook I found as a deal on Groupon.  I bought the Pre-K and K books, and found the Pre-K came in handy for working on our Alphabet handwriting…

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It is also available on Amazon for $12.25.  Like I said, this is a good book for handwriting practice and maybe some busy work.  It worked well for us but wasn’t my favorite.

I saw this book on a lot of peoples blogs, and many moms said this is how they taught their kids to read….

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This again can be found on Amazon for around $12, a steal in my opinion.  I bought this thinking I would start the year with it, but after looking through it I realized it would be a lot more successful if my kids knew their letters and sounds first.  Also, this book is a whole theory in and of itself.  It beneficial to read the first 5 or 6 parent pages to understand how you are teaching your kids.  What I do love about this book though is they tell you exactly what to say and how the kids should respond.  Each lesson takes about 10-15 minutes, and I love the one on one time I get with my kids.  When I first picked up this book, I thought there is no way my kids will be reading those 10 line stories by the time we get to day 50.  But you know what?? They are reading it!  When I started this book, I stopped doing other phonics work or online reading programs, because like I said, this book is a whole theory in and off itself and I didn’t want to confuse the kids.  I also didn’t do the handwriting they suggest at the end of every lesson, I did my own handwriting.  And my kids at this point knew how to write most of their letters anyway.  After about 20 lessons in, I started incorporating a few other books because I felt like my kids understood the concept behind this book well enough to not get confused.  One of my other favorites that works well with this book is Explode the Code.

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These books are available for under $9 on Amazon.  I love these books because they work on phonics and handwriting all at the same time.  I also love them because for the most part the kids can do them on their own.  So usually while one is doing their 3-4 pages in this book, I’m doing the reading lesson with the other.

The last books that the kids are loving are the classic BOB Books.

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and quite honestly, these are just confidence boosters and good practice reading books.  They love the fact that they can read a whole book by themselves and are so proud.  We just purchased the second set of BOB Books from Amazon and am excited to work through all 4 sets.  I usually send the kids off to read 1 or 2 of these books through twice to themselves and then they come read them to me.  I’m all about creating half independence and half one on one time.

The last thing we do is an online program called Reading Eggs.

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You have to subscribe and I believe it was about $60 for the year for both of the kids.  It’s great re-enforcement and the kids love it.  At first I had to help them quite a bit, but now they can mostly do it by themselves.  Each lesson takes about 15 minutes.

When I started homeschooling, I thought I could never teach my kids to read.  I was quite overwhelmed.  I can’t tell you how rewarding it has been seeing them take off and knowing you did it.  Best.feeling.ever.  Not to say it all came easy. There were many days that I got frustrated, yelled, had to ask forgiveness.  I realized I am much harder on my own kids than I was on 26 4th graders.  1.) Because I know my own kids abilities much better, and 2.)  Because I have much higher expectations.  Some days are tough, but we push through.  And we are loving every minute of it.  I love that we can ease into our day, that we can work around schooling if we need, and if we need a day off, we can take a day off.  I love that I know my kids better than anyone else and know when to push them and when to back off.  And I love that I get to spend all day with them.  I truly do.  So if you are questioning about starting homeschooling, feel free to email me or take encouragement from this post.

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2 Responses to FIRST YEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING UPDATE

  1. Molly says:

    Yay homeschooling! My mom homeschooled me and all of my siblings (there are seven of us in total; by the time I [the youngest] graduated high school, my mom had been homeschooling for 37 years straight!) and it has made all of us more independent and confident than kids our age seemed to be growing up. It’s definitely been a positive in regards to more private schooling attention than I would have received in a public school, but it also really strengthened my personal relationship with Christ and allowed me to be most focused on what He wanted for my life.

    Just a few thoughts for you, that you’re welcome to disregard if they do not apply for your kids / situations :)
    -I played sports through a private Christian school all throughout high school, which helped me gain social skills and focus on athleticism. I highly recommend this, as the friendships I made through sports are still alive and well today (I’m a senior in college about to graduate in May).
    -A wide range of text books and teaching styles is ideal. My mom used the same textbook company for all of us, and when I reached college I realized what I had learned was so biased / outdated / one-sided that I had no idea how to even catch up and be where everyone else already was.
    -Similarly to sports, I worked for riding lessons at the local horse barn in my area. The skills and responsibilities I learned and had there made me a much more focused and dedicated student. Any interaction with animals that children can get is so beneficial to them; just Google “Kids and animals” and you’ll be presented with at least a dozen articles scientifically showing the positive impact to be had. And don’t think riding is just a girl sport; my big brother took lessons right along with me, and was my best buddy and partner-in-crime during those awesome years, too!

    I think homeschooling, when done correctly, can be one of the best things you ever do for your family. You’re doing a great job so far! I know your kids will really appreciate it when they’re older, so even when it gets tough, just remember how great they’re going to turn out because of this!

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