Homeschooling in the Mayhem

When we officially decided to homeschool Bailey, I was still pregnant with Titus. We’d been talking about it since Bailey was a baby, but finally decided it was the route we were going to go when she was 3 1/2 or so. I had warm fuzzy feelings about sitting on our couch together reading stories, picking out letter sounds, doing simple math problems with manipulatives and board games. Hiking in the woods discovering all the disgusting insects and wildlife that God very well did create but I still am not a fan of. And in 12 years she would emerge from our home fluent in 8 languages and ready to perform open heart surgery on the moon.

Ok maybe I wasn’t that delusional, but let me be real with you. Bailey is incredibly bright. She learned to read and write at 4. I honestly can’t take much credit for it. She caught much more than I ever taught. I can and certainly will share what has worked for us and what we’ve grown to LOVE about homeschooling, but if I told you that we have a perfect routine and curriculum and we spend our days in loving bliss and harmony I’d be lying through my teeth…well, fingertips.

With Titus running around like a bulldozing madman and Hope wanting to eat, play, and scream at or snuggle with me alternately all day long, most of our schooling is done in the midst of absolute chaos. I mean, at times, we’re talking war zone-esque mayhem. Today just to get anything done, our schooling looked like this:

Isn’t our table awesome? James made it for me last fall.

Can you see Bailey back there standing in her jammies? Yeah, we can no longer sit on chairs because Titus is an absolute menace and won’t stop climbing. So we are now a family who stands. This is also the only time Titus wasn’t running around screaming at me because he’s cutting a molar and might have eaten something that is bothering his GI system and the calm lasted about 3.5 minutes.

I have a “why we decided to homeschool” article swimming around in my head and heart, but for now I’m just going to leave you with what we’ve done for school thus far.

At 3, Bailey knew her letters and probably most, if not all, of their sounds, so I introduced some letter writing practice (here) and just let her write whenever she felt like it. fullsizerender

When she got fairly good at that, I started looking into reading curricula. I needed something that basically laid it all out for me because I was NOT confident in my ability to teach my kids how to read! (I was terrified they would hate it and I am by no means an incredibly patient person) I looked into All About Reading until a friend and seasoned homeschool mom told me about this book: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.  It was the best $20 I’ve ever spent. It is so simple, and we have learned so much. It’s not flashy at all. It’s just a book. There are some fun, simple review games suggested in it, but the child learns to read by using a book, not a ton of flash cards, pictures, games, etc. We started this last January/February along with the first book from Handwriting Without Tears. That’s it. We didn’t do preschool. We just played at home all day and slowly worked our way through letters and numbers and reading. There are also a lot of great tips on how to prepare kids for reading at really young ages, so even if you’re kids aren’t school age yet, this is still a great resource!

Now that Hope is 3 1/2, instead of paying for preschool and having to take her and pick her up 2-3x a week, we do a very simple “Letter of the Week” here at home. We check out books from the library (when I remember) that have the sound in them, she uses the letter writing pages I used for Bailey and she has various other activities and workbooks stashed in a ‘school box’ that she knows she can use whenever she’d like during our school day. We’ll start The Ordinary Parent’s Guide next fall and go pretty slowly.

For Bailey’s first official year of school, we started a program called Classical Conversations. Our reasoning for choosing this group can also be another post entirely, but suffice it to say we LOVE CC. Absolutely love it and highly recommend it to anyone looking into homeschooling. (You can start as early as 4 but we waited until 5 since Titus was a newborn last year and I wasn’t ready to dive in quite yet.)

In addition to our CC curriculum we use the following curricula:
Math: Math-U-See, just finished the entire Primer level in 3 1/2 months, we’ll start Alpha after Christmas
Reading: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading as well as reading as many chapter books as we can get our hands on
Bible: The Ology (we combine handwriting with this now as I have her copy a verse from each section) And next year I’m hoping to start God’s Great Covenant
Spelling: Spelling Workout A
Spanish: Song School Spanish

The shelf we use to store all our homeschool goodness (and now other miscellaneous books/notebooks/journals). It used to look really organized and pretty. And now it’s all just shoved on the top because…Titus.

In case you’re wondering, the CC curriculum covers History, Geography, Science, English Grammar, Math facts (Bailey can skip count 1s through 15s, cubes and squares thanks to CC, so I’d say that’s a decent start in math), Latin, and Fine Arts.

Right now she’s working at a higher level than kindergarten in most subjects, but the best part about homeschooling is we have the flexibility to work at her pace on each individual subject. When we finish something, we simply move on! If we’re stuck on something and one (or both) of us gets frustrated, we simply stop and pick up where we left off another day. If we find something we really want to learn more about, we get more information! We check out a few books from the library, look up some videos on youtube and talk about it. (Full disclosure, sometimes when she wants to learn more about something I say, “Ok! We’ll look into it later”…and then we never do…because sometimes the 3 carseats just aren’t worth it. Especially in winter.)

Honestly, at the end of the day, I care more about my children learning how to learn than what they learn.

Keep your eyes peeled for a few more thoughts on why we decided to homeschool and possibly why we love Classical Conversations so incredibly much.


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