It’s only been a few weeks but we have realized very quickly that what you think you need and what you actually need to homeschool are very different! At least this has been our experience so far! Here are a few things that have been helpful for us in these first few weeks:
- BINDERS! Lots and lots of binders! (if you are like us and had to print your curriculum, you will need sturdy binders to hold all the papers.). We have also utilized page protectors, like the clear ones (you know what I’m talking about). I put EVERYTHING in there! I put any work Linc has done including any drawing he has made that might be relevant which is a lot because he usually draws while I read or instruct. A friend of mine who has homeschooled all 3 of their kiddos their whole lives told me to do this because it was great when it came to end of the year review.
- A really great 3 hole punch! We have gone through 2 already… don’t ask! Mom fail!
- AN AMAZING PLANNER: This maybe should be number 1 on the list. Organization is essential to homeschooling and planning your lessons. If you don’t have some sort of idea of what you’re going to teach and what materials you need, things will go haywire! Fail to plan… plan to fail. Here is the planner I ended up ordering and I ADORE IT…. https://wellplannedgal.com/. Her planner and tips are just so encouraging and amazing and I am telling you friends, she is getting me through this!
- WHITE BOARDS! Ok so this is essential for us but I feel like honestly everyone could benefit! Our white boards are crucial for movement and focus. I’ve talked with several other homeschooling families out there and most of them with kiddos that have ADHD or need extra movement to focus swear by the whiteboard! We have a little one for Linc and then occasionally I will break out the wall chalk board if he really needs to move and stand on the stool. It allows them the ability to get their whole body involved in writing or working on an equation etc. We also use it for drawing when I have to read a passage or paragraph to him!
- TIME TIMER: I found this on amazon when Linc was in Kinder to help him with transitions and classroom assignments. It has been one of the best little tools we have ever found and we use just about everywhere in our lives. I usually have one that I give to his classroom teachers just for the classroom and I keep one at home for us. We use it to help brush our teeth, we use it to help with screen time or before bedtime. It is just helpful in all kinds of ways. It’s absolutely helped Linc how to tell time as well. We use it specifically for homeschooling because we like to work in 20 minute blocks, especially for tasks that Linc is not a fan of (like phonics cards and sight word ladders). This way he can visually see how long he has worked and how much more he has to go. This also helps with the whining and complaining. The timer is bad guy, not mommy!
- TATTOOS & JOLLLY RANCHERS: OK seriously don’t laugh because this is serious! Teacher’s have incentive jars or as I like to call positive reinforcement treats! Homeschool needs to have them as well. Not all of the curriculum is going to be fun and engaging. Some of it is just not fun. I mean I LOVE reading and I love language arts. My kiddo ,however, he does not. Reading is HARD for him and while he gets better at it every day and he shows more interest in it every day (proud mom moment) he would still rather be outside getting dirty and doing something that makes my anxiety triple. So… tattoos and jolly ranchers! We have a deal that when his language arts lesson calls for phonic cards, sight word ladders or spelling, if he can try his best and get through them without complaining, whining OR telling me ” I KNOOOWW MOM” (gosh I hate that phrase), then he can choose a jolly rancher or a tattoo, or both depending on the request when he finishes! Ya’ll… it works. Don’t knock it. I swear you’re going to see him on his bike outside and he’s going to be covered from head to toe in tattoos but he’ll be able to spell all his words! REVISION!! We just bought him legit full sleeve temporary tattoos! Now it is a fact that you will see my kid covered in tattoos because at the end of the week if he has made it all the way through the 5 days of lessons without complaining, he gets a SLEEVE! I can’t tell you how excited he is about this!
- A DAY TO PREP & PLAN: I know this isn’t a tangible object but I swear by it. I give myself a block of time on Sunday’s to plan for the week ahead! If I don’t sit down with all the curriculum and my planner I feel scattered and lost! and usually I’m overwhelmed while I’m trying to teach. So I SCHEDULE time for myself. I list each subject out for each day, what lesson we are learning and what supplies we need. This way if we have an experiment or activity I can note if I need to prepare the night ahead. I can figure out what supplies are needed and make sure I have them on hand. I can see if some of the materials and lessons can be taught together. For example this week language arts and science both talked about shells in one lesson so they were perfect to combine. I know next week I need to have a chicken on hand and about 20 boxes of salt! It also helps if I need to switch some things around because regardless of the plan, something will always come up! I usually do this when the boys are gone and I can spread out and work in silence (with a cup of coffee!). Sometimes I work in my bedroom and spread out all over the bed. Sometimes I get the gift of a quiet house and can work at the coffee table and watch a show I love and have seen about a million times. Either way, it always involves a cup of coffee (or a coke) and about a million binders, and some kind of arts and crafts project I realize I need to complete before the upcoming week! Fail to plan… plan to fail!
Hope this helps you if you are starting to homeschool like it’s helped me. This is such a learning process as we keep diving in week after week!
This week was crazy for us! We had some ups and we had some downs…
- Linc still wanting and requesting to start school every morning without being asked!
- Linc’s reading skills getting better and better each and every day!
- We completed an entire book in 2 days!! BIG UPS for little man on that! I secretly celebrated that victory that night when I wrote it in my three things journal! That was a huge win for us!
- Our science experiment win! This week I split up our lesson into two mini lessons so it was easier to digest. We did an experiment on intertidal zones and Linc was super hooked! We made a tide pool and the continental shelf and the pelagic zone and discussed what happened during low tide and how tide. Linc actually remembered all the zones and what happened. Then he wanted to play with it after for a good hour! WINNING!
- I had a horrible migraine the first few days of “school” this week so journaling at the end of the day did not get done. We also had to postpone school on Monday.
- I feel like we are flying through the day and not working long enough. It feels like we aren’t quite doing “enough”. I’m still trying to figure out what is right if you know what I mean. How much should we supposed to be doing? What is the formula?
- Some days it’s hard to separate mom from teacher and respect vs. I can let go and let it all out on mom because she is my safe person. We had an emotional night last night and that was hard. We are both trying to find our way through when it’s ok to push and when it’s ok to let things slide because we both need a break.