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We have officially completed our first month of homeschooling. This past month has, obviously, been stressful and busy. School looks quite different than I would like it to look. However, I am so proud of my son for the work he’s put in last month and thrilled we completed our first month. We did some less-structured schooling in August (which I shared a bit more about a couple days ago if you’d like to check that out here).
This past month has been an adventure in extreme minimalist homeschooling. In our storage unit, we have a couple bins with school and craft supplies we can’t wait to crack into. Our plan is to live in the Airstream for about a month before we bring everything else in. We’re hoping to be somewhere long-term by then and to make sure we have any possible leaks sealed up and have everything incredibly clean.
Most of our work was done on the Kindle Paperwhite. We kept all our papers tightly sealed up in plastic bags and only had one book because it wasn’t available on the Kindle and was one I really wanted to use for school.
We were gifted a Paperwhite and couldn’t be more grateful for it. While we try to be a mostly screen-free family, the Paperwhite is great because it’s not backlit (they call it “digital ink- it really does feel like reading a “real book”). This technology doesn’t create the addiction and sleep and brain-development issues that have arisen with other screens.
Fortunately, the majority of books suggested for this term are free Kindle downloads- yet another reason I LOVE Ambleside!
Some of the materials we will be using in print-form once we move in, such as our Language Arts curriculum, the Good and the Beautiful (which is also free), but we did everything on the Kindle for the last month. Long-term for math we’ll be using Shiller Math which we did a brief unboxing video of last month. For the last month, while we were waiting to move into the Airstream, we’ve been using MEP. MEP is a free online math curriculum. It is actually a Hungarian curriculum that’s been translated into English. We also used some of the math activities from the AO crisis page. I would highly suggest MEP if you’re looking for a comprehensive, free math curriculum.
Since life this past month was mostly focused on getting the Airstream completed and getting moved in, we didn’t have consecutively long times of school. Most days we did a bit in the morning, went to work on the Airstream, did a bit more over lunch, took an afternoon playbreak and I worked and then did a bit more in the evenings. Now that we’re moved in, we’re trying to find a good routine. My husband doesn’t work until the afternoons most days so a lot of the time is spent as a family outdoors in the mornings and school in the afternoon. I have noticed, however, that my son’s attention is much higher in the mornings so we’re trying to get more of the focused work done before lunch.
Something that carried with me from my teaching days is using different parts of the brain and alternating tasks as well as alternating order of school each day.
We made up schedule cards with each subject on them. Written in orange are subjects we do daily: Bible, Literature, Poem, Hymn, Folksong, Math, Copywork, Good and Beautiful, Yoga and Walk. In blue (we’re obsessed with the Broncos, what can I say?) I have cards for the subjects we only do a few days a week: History, Natural History, Nature Study, Picture Study, Geography, Handicraft, Composer.
Every day we pick 2-3 of the blue ones and my son gets to set out which order he wants to do things in. I come in and put yoga and our walk in where I think we’ll be ready for a little movement break. We’ve been reading our poem before bed and listening to our hymn, folksong and composer song while we prepare meals and during playtime. Sometimes I re-organize his cards a bit if I think he’s put subjects that are too close to each other together (such as sitting to focus on literature and then sitting to focus on geography). This has worked quite well so far.
In the coming weeks we’ll be adding a foreign language (we’re trying to decide between Latin, Spanish, Chinese or sign language), starting on our timelines, and adding in drawing time. I also want to make cards for each specific book we’re covering in Literature. We have great plans for dry-erase weekly schedules too. My intention is to use dry-erase as much as possible to try to get back to our zero waste lifestyle.
This past month has been full of highs and lows, incredibly stressful and also a breath of fresh air. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to get everything on the weekly Ambleside schedule done in spite of how busy things have been. It’s been incredibly good for me to have something else to focus on besides mold, autoimmune disease, and my own health issues. I’m finding that it’s really helping my mental health and well being to be focused on schooling. Many of my evenings are spent going through materials for the coming days, reading Charlotte Mason’s writings or other articles I’ve downloaded about homeschooling.
I’m also learning a lot myself! Charlotte Mason emphasizes a rich, beautiful approach to learning. I am brushing up on history, loving reading Aesop and learning new vocabulary words since many of the texts are quite old or were written by English authors. It’s funny, when I taught I felt so confident, now that it’s my own kid and an approach different than I took as a teacher, it took me awhile to get confident again. I’m definitely feeling much more confident now and am so grateful we decided to take the leap into homeschooling!