Here is my story.
I grew up in the Public School System and so did my husband. I moved every two years since my dad was in the Air Force, so I had a very interesting and varied school experience.
I know that now, if my mother had the resources and the ability to homeschool us, I know that we would have had more of a consistant learning enviornment. I skipped over three years of math and several years of history, because each state had a different curriculum. I felt that I was always at a disadvantage during school and I always felt behind.
So when it was time to have my family, I always thought that the public school system would be the way to go. I have my Masters in Ed. specializing in Public School Curriculum Middle through High School, English, History and Spanish. I thought that I was going to be a principal by the time I was 35. Little did I know that my journey would take a very different course.
My husband is a pastor. And in the 8 years that we've been married, we've moved over 7 times! That's a lot of moving. Then, when he became a full time youth pastor, I discovered that his work schedule was very sparatic. Sometimes he would work nights and weekends. Sometimes he would have the mornings off. Sometimes he would be gone for a week or so for a mission trip.
So when my daughter turned four, we had to make a decision. I already had a 2 year old son at the time (which I didn't know that I would be pregnant with number three later!). If I went to work and put my daughter in school, she would be gone at 6:30 in the morning and return three or four in the evening. But most likely as a "career mom" I would probably be in meetings or parent conference in the evening time. I also would have to think about day care for my son! (Very expensive!!!)
Since I already had some background in college with early elementary children. I had worked with children for a long time at church and at summer babysitting jobs. So I thought that I could handle my own children. Wow! I have learned so much!
First of all, where do you start? I know that there are NUMEROUS curriculums out there for hundreds or even thousands of dollars! I know that didn't want to spend a lot of money. I am a very DIY and creative person, so I wanted something that gave me some guidelines about what we are learning, but I wanted a lot of freedom to my own thing.
Here is the book that I use. The good thing is, this series goes until 6th grade! And it has a ton of worksheets, ideas and extra project ideas.. I got my used from amazon for like 10.00! (brand new is 68.00 which is still not bad!) Here is the link to see more:
So what about getting approved by your state? I have just the website for you (If you live in Virginia). http://heav.org/
This gives you everything you need to know about the paperwork, the testing and the approval process.
Some states even reimburse you for homeschooling, so look into it!
So what are some ways that I create a learning enviornment in my small little town house? (Some of these pictures are from my phone, so sorry about that. Sometimes I just don't have the time to pull out my fancy camera)
1. My whole house is a learning enviornment. We paint on the table with a table cloth that I don't care about. We do playdough on the floor. We get messy. We don't buy nice furniture or expensive clothes for the kids and we try to put aprons on when we do something really messy.
Here is our corner that is dedicated to the school room. We try to be here at least twice a week.
When daddy is home, he tries to do the school time with us!
We aren't afraid of mess! We are constantly cleaning up the house! I just had to let it go and know that my home is my classroom! It does get frustrating sometimes!
2. We take advantage of local educational trips. There were so many things in this area to get memberships for, that just spending money on them would be thousands of dollars. So we had to focus on what we thought we would use the most. So I picked the local children's museum. It's indoor, so that we can use it any time of year and only for four people, we get unlimited use for 80.00! Now that's pretty cool.
Here is my daughter playing "vet" at the local children's museum.
Here is us at the local Barnes and Noble during FREE story time.
Here is us at the local zoo. It was so expensive for a regular trip, but we saw a homeschool coupon that we got in FREE! I subsribe to alot of facebook groups that give me resources and tips in my local area.
The local library is a weekly trip for us! They know us by name. Because I can check out 30 books under my name, and my daughter can check out 30 books under her name, that is A LOT of books that we can read together!
Sometimes we do something a little bit more expensive as a treat! Here we are a the local painting studio!
3. We make all day a learning experience. I have my kids clean my house for me (with me there of course). I think it's important to learn that we are a family working together for a common goal and that we have to earn everything. We even have to earn screen time by doing our work and chores!
Here is the school learning chart that I use for my daughter. Notice the variety of "subjects" that we are learning about. Everything from cooking, to exercise, to math to Bible. Housework in on there too!
We use A LOT of paint chips from our local Home Depot for all sorts of school cards and crafts!
When we fill up a chart, then we do something fun, like baking, doing our nails or whatever my daughter wants!
Here is an example of our calendar. I bought it from Amazon for like 15.00.
Here is a typical worksheet time, working in our book. (Another book we use to suppliment is a Leap Frog brand book that we got from Barnes and Noble for 15.00). We are also having a snack at the same time!
This is a library book that we got about "Our Town." We read it together and now my daughter is making her own book!
4. We spend many hours outside if we can. When I was growing up, TV was not an option. So when the weather is nice, we are spending one to two hours a day outside!
Here is one of our craft times, outside! That is why a back yard was so important to us!
My husband loves to work with wood. Here is my daughter "sanding" a cabinet that we found at the thrift store.
Here we are taking advantage of a local walking trail! Of course, my husband is carrying our son on his back! We each got to talk to a real life forest ranger and ask him questions!
5. Enjoy it! No matter what method you use, the point of homeschool that we are learning about is the TIME that you take with your kids. We are constantly learning all day, whether it's by cleaning a bathroom, or going to a new place. Every moment is a gift!
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