Homeschool: 2 Months In

Hello Out There! 

We’ve been super focused on settling into our homeschool routine since the New Year and it’s hard to believe we’ve been at it for two months already! Time really does fly. 

Both Little Bear and I have learned A LOT in the last 8 weeks and I want to share some of the helpful tips and wisdoms that have helped me on this journey. 

Routine + Time Management 
Our school schedule has done wonders for my personal time management skills. I struggle with routines but our school schedule helps simplify our day and helps me be more aware of how I spend my time. Working from home can make it hard to keep my boundaries clear and some days I feel like I’ve been too focused on work. But blocking out time for school every day ensures that Little Bear and I get enough one on one time, even if in my head, it doesn’t seem like it. This really helps alleviate the mom guilt I now so many of us struggle with. 

a look at our weekly activity planner. it gets messy, but it keeps our days running smoothly.

Planning
Planning is going to become key if you want to homeschool your child. Your life will become a cluster fuck if you try to homeschool without doing sufficient planning first. I plan my curriculum on a monthly basis, then on Sundays I review my plans for the week, gather materials and prep as much as I can. Nightly, before bed, I check out the schedule for the next day and complete any last minute preparations. That way when the morning comes I’m ready to go, no hesitation. Even with advance prepping, sometimes things go awry. It’s important to plan your day so it runs smoothly but it’s more important to be flexible to your child’s needs.

Letting Your Child Lead
As adults, when we make a plan, we try our best to stick to it, thats the point, right? Well for kids thats not really the case. They don’t need a plan, and sometimes sticking to your plan rigidly can make life unnecessarily hard for your little one. I’ve found that with our homeschool activities, it’s best for me to follow Litle Bear’s lead on how we engage with the activities. Say I bring out paint and paper, but my little one would rather paint on his skin than on the paper. The goal of the painting activity is not to make something beautiful that you frame and keep forever. Would that be nice, sure, but the point of this activity is to 1. Expose your child to different experiences, 2. To encourage hand eye coordination and motor skill development through using a paint brush and 3. To allow your child the opportunity to be curious, explore and understand at their own pace. If you’re hyper focused on getting your child to paint a line on their paper, you could both miss out on all the other opportunities for learning that activity offers.

this was supposed to be an ocean themed sensory bin but when I asked my sister to supervise so I could jump on a work call, I came back to Little Bear fully inside the sensory bin, soaking wet, but having the best time with his tools and toys.

Getting help + Not Losing Your Head
You’ve heard the expression ‘it takes a village’ well, as i’m learning raising a child, really does. So it’s important that you have a support system and the tools you need to be successful. We don’t all have an expansive support team, and that makes things much harder. But that doesn’t mean that you’re alone. The internet and apps like Clubhouse and Facebook are making it easier than ever to connect with like minded people and grow real, meaningful relationships. People meet their spouses online, there’s no reason you can’t make a legit friend who could support you in real life, online. 

Another area where I needed support was in my planning materials and resources. I have a background in education, so iI knew going into homeschooling, what the back end work was going to look like for me. I’m a chronic overplanner so I knew I needed a robust system to help me figure out what homeschooling was going to look like. I wanted our curriculum to be cohesive, not just on a daily and weekly basis but on a monthly and yearly basis too. I needed support in knowing what kind of subjects I should cover and a system that would help make sure we were setting and meeting learning goals and keeping our activities fresh and engaging. I was able to find a very robust planning program that offered that materials I needed and aligned with my educations style (we do montessori in our home). I would highly recommend compiling planning resources and utilizing the resources offered by more experienced homeschoolers when you’re starting out. Even if you’ve worked in education, homeschooling is a different beast entirely, and it’s worth tapping in with an experienced homeschooler before you get started. 

What are some helpful tips or ideas you’ve found most useful on your homeschooling journey? Let me know in the comments or connect with me on Instagram and let me know! I’m always looking for new friends and new ideas.

Good Luck Mama!

featured image by Ketut Subiyanto

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.