Supplies You Need to Start Homeschooling

They say the first step is the hardest one. Getting started with homeschooling can be overwhelming, so the first thing I recommend is finding a homeschool planner that works for you. There are tons of them out there. I knew that I was going to need a lot of support for our journey and that it was something new I was going to have to learn a lot about.  So I opted for a robust Montessori planning system. Digital products like these go on sale often, so it doesn’t need to break the bank. I got mine on sale from Lindsay at ModernBirthingMama.com. She’s a stay at home mom who homeschools and creates resources to make the process a little easier. I picked up her Ultimate Montessori Homeschool Binder which came with a bunch of other resources to help me create the foundation for how we homeschool.

I’ll write an itemized list of some of the resources that are essential to getting started. Ours came from a few different sources; Little Bear had been in early intervention programs and they regularly provide resources through their newsletter with helpful information and activity ideas; our team of therapists who provide us with benchmarks to watch for and creative ideas to encourage developmental progress; our pediatrician and other specialists, who help us interpret Little Bear’s needs and limitations. Your child may not be developmentally delayed, but these resources will still be able to help you understand the skills your child should have and tips for teaching them effectively. 

Here’s a full breakdown of what came with ourMontessori Planner and some of the most important resources we used when getting started:

Practical Life Skills and Activities – age appropriate life skills
Developmental Milestones – age appropriate physical/mental/emotional development
Budget Planner
Sample Daily Schedule for Toddlers/Preschoolers
Yearly Goal Setting (reflection for Mom & education)
Student Goal Setting – a breakdown of specific skills you want mastered and steps to get there
Prepared Environment Reflection/Lifestyle – is your home conducive to learning? What can you do to make it more so?
Monthly planning template
Weekly planning template
Daily Hour by Hour Planner
Weekly observations
Field Trip Planner
Weekly Activity planner
Lesson Planner – simple & advanced
Meal Prep Guide
Room/Home planner – for creating a learning environment 
Reading Log
Monthly Calendar 
Goal Trackers

In addition to this list, which will help you organize your curriculum and lesson plans, you’re going to need some actual activities to fill their day with. Thankfully, there are a ton of resources with fun ideas to play and learn with your children in engaging ways, especially since most of us have spent the last 8 months at home with our kids, trying to come up with ways to keep everybody from going crazy.

Instagram is my absolute favorite place to find activities to fill our daily schedule. There are so many amazing creators on Instagram with some really unique, inexpensive and kid friendly activity ideas, and access to Instagram is free. While some creators do peddle high priced products, the vast majority don’t and are just regular people like you and me, trying to have fun, teach their kid, and not break the bank or buy a bunch of stuff. My top 3 Instagram accounts for play and learn activities are:
1. @mothercould
2. @makeitmontessori
3. @bigpictureplay
4. @playlearnthrivekids
5. @napacenter

And That’s really it! This list seems long and maybe overwhelming, but you don’t NEED all of this stuff to get started. Bare minimum, you’ll need a daily schedule and a list of activities. More planning makes controlling your child’s education over the long term much more manageable, but if you’re getting your feet under you and just need to start, you could start today with the resources in this blog post.

Honest Homeschooling: What to Think About if You’re Considering Home Schooling You Child

Today, Little Bear and I start our first official day of homeschool. Our path to homeschooling started waaay before the pandemic. As we’ve shared, Little Bear has Sensory Processing Disorder and some developmental delays, so I’ve been thinking about what his education would look like basically his whole life. I have nothing but love and respect for teachers working in public education. I truly think many of them are doing God’s work. But the education system is tremendously flawed, underfunded, neglected and it can be difficult for them to meet the needs of non traditional students with their limited resources. I always knew I wanted something different for Little Bear, I just wasn’t sure what. 

Initially I leaned towards a Montessori school as my main option, then the pandemic hit and everything changed. I have a strong background in education. In college, I worked as an assistant coordinator for an after school program in the Oakland Unified School District. I’ve written curriculum, attended state sanctioned seminars, worked hands on teaching creative arts to children and providing academic support and tutoring. My time studying and working in the field of education has given me some strong opinions around education and child development. So, in my case, I always had this feeling inside that I had the tools to educate him myself, and give him the education I believed he needed rather than the tired model that leaves so many of us needing more.

But I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I woke up stoked to basically become a teacher. That’s not my calling or passion, so while I knew the idea felt right, I was still very resistant to the idea of taking on the task of educating my child myself. In all honesty, my road to this point was kind of messy. But the mess helped me see the situation for what it was, and eventually I found my way through.

Here are the things I considered when weighing my options;

  • Your mental health. Homeschooling is not easy, even when it’s easy. And if you know from jump, that this isn’t for you, it’s worth taking the time to process through any resistance you may be feeling about taking the plunge into full time homeschooling. Do you already feel overwhelmed and overworked? Does the idea of even getting started with homeschool stress you out and fry your brain? Do you know patience and helping others work through problems are difficult tasks for you? That’s ok, you’re human. But you do have the responsibility of setting the tone for your child. So take some time to get familiar and comfortable with your new role and the responsibilities that come along with it. Reach out to others for resources and support. You’re not the only person in this situation, and you’re not the only one who needs help. It’s going to be okay. 
  • Consider what is best for your child. How does your child learn best? What kind of activities or toys do they engage with most? How have they been handling virtual learning? For me these answers to these questions seemed a little counter intuitive. For some reason, I felt that my child had made more progress when he wasn’t participating in virtual learning sessions than when he was. This was a key realization for me, because it helped me to understand that the virtual model didn’t work for my child, which is actually pretty normal.
  • Your strengths and weaknesses. No one is good at everything, so have an honest conversation with yourself and take stock of your most valuable skills, and how they will help you in homeschooling. Then, write a list of the areas you struggle in, or would like to improve, and write down how these negatives will also effect your homeschool process. 

Decide your educational core values.
What is the point of education, for you? What kind of environment do you want your child to learn in? What are the concepts that you want to make sure they can grasp to function at their highest level? What was good or bad about your own educational experience and how did it shape you later in life. Answering these questions will help you determine your answer to the next point of consideration. 

  • What is realistic for your lifestyle. there are a lot of factors that go into homeschooling that you might not necessarily think about right away: your budget for supplies and resources, if you have the space in your home to dedicate to education and your ability to modify your space if necessary, how much time you can dedicate to planning and prep and how often you’ll do it.
  • What kind of educational method is right for your child. there are many alternatives to the traditional public education model we’re familiar with. The Montessori education model has been around for over 100 years and has seen ups and downs in it’s popularity with American parents. There are others too: Waldorf, Harkness, Reggio Emilia, each with a unique set of principles, they believe foster the ideal learning environment for kids. We’ll talk more about different educational styles and how their benefits in the next few weeks. 

The good news is, homeschooling is extremely flexible and can be structured in whatever way works best for you and your family. There are a variety of robust tools and resources available to make homeschooling fun, interesting and engaging for you and your child.

End of the Year Check In

Hey Mamas! 

It’s been a little, while am I right? It feels redundant to say but this year has changed our lives forever. 

I’ve shifted careers and have taken the leap into entrepreneurship full time. It’s scary, but it gives me the freedom I need to do the thing that’s most important to me now a days: raising a happy, healthy, KIND human. 

I’ve opted out of virtual school and decided to homeschool full time for the foreseeable future. I knew pre-pandemic that education for Little Bear was going to be a little different. I’ve spent five years working in public schools and know how difficult it is for them to fully meet the needs of their students, especially given the fact that most public schools are heinously underfunded. 

We’re living more simply these days: being stripped of everything you thought you wanted and needed in life has a way of showing you what you really need. We’re making conscious efforts to live a more humble, less wasteful life. Everything from the way we cook to how we sort our trash has changed, to reflect a life of simplicity and resourcefulness. 

I know for many folks, the pandemic hit much harder. Many people lost their jobs, and a fair amount of people lost their homes. Many people lost loved ones, relationships and friendships in the last few months. 

It can be difficult in hard times to stay positive or find the good in things, especially if you feel your life has been destroyed. But try to focus on the positive elements of the year. Focus on your resilience and the things that brought you small, consistent joy. Lean in towards those things. 

One of the biggest changes for our family during the pandemic has been education. We were enrolled in early intervention when the pandemic hit in the United States in March. All schools in our county were shut down until July, when many facilities began the process of reopening. During this time, I struggled with whether or not to send Little Bear back to school. A big part of his developmental deficits has to do with social interaction. He had just started to blossom with his peers when we had to shelter in place. I literally agonized over weather the risk was worth the reward, 

I took some time to think about what was best for Little Bear and for me. I thought about how much he had changed since starting school, then his progress via teletherapy, and finally, how he had advanced since stopping teletherapy. For us, the answer was homeschooling. So as we start our homeschooling journey, we’ll take you with us, sharing what we learn, strategies that work for us and helpful resources to streamline the process.