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

5 Movie Night Themes & Activities Your Kids Will Love

Last week we gave you five easy activities ideas to keep your kids entertained now that it’s summer and distance learning is over. Today, we want to revisit that list and expand on some of the ideas to give you more fun family activities for summer. 

If you missed the list, and want to catch up with the full countdown, click here

Items 2 & 3 on our list of Easy Activities to Keep Kids Entertained This Summer talked about how watching movies together (#2) and then doing a corresponding activity (#3) are great ways to not just entertain your kids, but bond with them too. Today, we’re going to explore how to make those activities educational too!

Below are 5 Movie Night themes and activities to do with your family.

Hotel Transylvania 3 – Racism & Empathy

Hotel Transylvania 3 features our favorite monster gang as they take their families on a getaway for a little R&R. The only problem is, their whole vacation is an elaborate plot by an evil human and his granddaughter, who hate all monsters for basically no reason. The cruise sails the group right into the Bermuda Triangle and the hands of a giant sea monster controlled by the insidious humans who want to destroy them all. The day is only saved when one of the indivuals exercising control and violence over the monsters, realizes the error of their ways. 

Talking Points:
The film’s villain is an egotistical, hypocritical human whose views on monsters echo of racism. His delusional persona is capped off by the fact that, despite his hatred for monsters, his quest to destroy them has inadvertently turned him into one. Lots to unpack there.
Sample Questions:
Do we know anyone like that in real life, who dislikes people for no reason?
Has anyone ever treated you badly for no reason?
How did it make us feel? How do we think this makes others feel?
Why do we think Vanhelsing wants to hurt the monsters? 

The Activity

Gather an assortment of random craft items you have around the house: pompoms, googley eyes, yarm, pipe cleaner, paint, markers, glue, pipe cleaners, dried pasta, beads, whatever you have! Use empty boxes or a paper bag as a body and have fun creating your own monsters inspired by the ones in the movie. The conversations around this movie are kinda heavy, so balance it with a fun activity that doesn’t require too much thinking on their part. The key is to facilitate a casual and open conversation, so a free flowing activity like building a monster is a great way to get conversation flowing. 


Spiderman into the Spiderverse – Believe in Yourself

This movie is so good. Like sooooo good. It features an Afro-Latinx main character, Miles, who stumbles upon an evil billionaire’s dimension destroying super collider. He’s bitten by a radioactive spider, then is mentored by 4 other spider…people brought to his dimension when the billionaire turns on his machine for the first time. The group works together to destroy the collider and coax Miles into his new role while trying to not be destroyed themselves. 

The Talking Points:
One of the central themes of this movie is the power of believing in yourself. Our main character Miles is mild mannered and struggles to gain confidence in every aspect of his life.
Sample Questions:
What does it mean to believe in yourself?
When was a time that you didn’t know if you’d be good at something but you tried anyways?

What happened after you tried?
Were you happy you did it or did you wish you hadn’t done it?

The Activity

Look up a few beginner parkour videos on youtube, then help your kids et up their own course outside or inside where it’s safe. 


Frozen 2 – Change, Grief, White Supremacy

Frozen 2 has some pretty mature themes for a kids movie, but it’s still a great watch. This time around the sisters and their friends are on a quest to undo a great wrong in their family’s past that has had an enormous effect on their entire community. When they realize their kingdom was founded on lies and betrayal, they have to make it right if they have any hope of survival.

The Talking Points:
The most prevalent theme in this movie is the idea of change. Relationships have changed, season’s have changed, all the people we knew, have all changed since we last saw them. And there is still more change to come. Older children may be able to tackle the more mature sub themes, like exploitation, betrayal and misuse of power and how these things create generational disenfranchisement. (Don’t fight me on this one guys, the messages are clear. Disney knows going on, and they’ve been trying to break it down for kids for several films now.)
Sample Questions:
What was different in this movie from the first one?
How were the characters different?
Why do you think they were different? What was Elsa doing at Atuhala?
What was she there to find out?
What did she find out?
Who did a bad thing in the past?
What was the bad thing they did?
Who made it right?
Why is it important to fix it if we do something bad or wrong? 

The Activity:

Element Scavenger Hunt is easy, fun and educational. Explain each of the earth elements to your child, then time them in 4 rounds to see how many household items they can find associated with each element. The person with the most finds in each round wins.


How to Train Your Dragon 3 – Letting go, The Complexity of Loss 

The third film in this trilogy wraps up the characters story and teaches us some painfully valuable life lessons. How to Train your Dragon 3 explores what it means to accept change, even when it’s painful for us.

The Talking Points:
This film deals a lot with the complexity of change. Hiccup has come to realize that the friend he loves will never be safe in his world, and he must come to terms with the difficult reality this leaves him with. If we love someone, we must always do right be them, even, and especially when it is difficult for us.
Sample Questions:
What was something sad that happened in this movie?
What was something happy?
What was something that was both happy and sad?
Have you ever had a time in your life that was both happy and sad?
How did you feel?
What helped you to feel better?

The Activity

Help your little one improve their hand eye coordination and have some fun with the a dragon egg toss! Decorate some eggs with dye or glitter (hard boil them first if you want to avoid the mess) then get in teams of two to see who the best dragon egg tosser in the family is! The winner is the last one to drop or crack their egg.


The Secret Life of Pets 2 – The Power of Love

Pets 2 is a lighthearted comedy that explores the power of love through our pets. We watch as 3 furry friends are driven outside their comfort zone by the power of love for their friends and family. 

The Talking Points.
Why do you think the Max can’t stop scratching?
Why was he so worried about Liam, the little boy?
What happens to you when you get nervous or worried?
Why did Daisy go back to save the tiger? 
Why was Daisy willing to do something scary to save the tiger?
Who is someone you would do something scary for?

The Activity

Pet Charades Write the name of a few different characters from the movie and different pets, then put them in a hat and take turns pulling a paper, then acting it out. Remember, no talking!