Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our preschool homeschool rhythm

We are in our second week of homeschooling, and it has been wonderful and challenging.  I love the intentional rhythm and structure that homeschooling has brought to our days.  The summer was full of lots of park time, visiting friends and family and days full of busyness.  I love that.  I think I thrive off of social interaction with other adults too.  I also love the intentional plan to stay home three mornings a week and do fun preschool activities with the girls.  I really like not feeling guilty about just staying home, but relishing in the routine we have built in just two short weeks.  It is wonderful.

It is a huge decision about what to do for preschool for a 4 year old.  Most of Charlotte's peers are in a 2 to 5 day a week preschool.  There is only one person in our immediate play group circles that is homeschooling for this year before Kindergarten.  It is a weighty financial and educational decision.  After much discussion this summer we decided to homeschool for this year.  I plan to homeschool for preschool three mornings a week, attend a Mom's group one morning a week and then keep one free for drop-in library program, groceries/errands or just a "stay home and relax" morning.  Our afternoons are a bit more unscheduled at the moment, but I am focusing on our morning rhythm right now.

The theme for the first month of school will be getting into the routines we have set together.  In the morning, that starts with our Morning High Five.  Each of the girls have a "High Five"... five things that they do in the mornings, and then sometimes we do actual high fives when they finish everything.

Charlotte's consists of: making the bed, checking Ava's water dish and filling it, setting the table/eating breakfast, clearing her dishes/washing the morning dishes, and getting dressed/clothes in laundry & brushing teeth.

Lila's consists of: eating breakfast, clearing her dishes, wiping the table clean, getting dressed/clothes in laundry/brushing teeth and getting Ava's leash and poop bag for our short morning walk.

This is quickly becoming part of our morning routine!  I love it, and it's frustrating at times. Children doing their own chores and having responsibility in the house always takes longer. (Especially when they are two and four!) I try to remember that this is important, and they are contributing to our family unit.  I also try my very best not to clean up after they are finished!

I also am not going to push it, I try to enforce our High Five on school mornings, if it happens other mornings, then great!  If we have a morning like this morning.... I just let go and let the girls play, play, play.  That's what they really wanted to do this morning, and so I changed gears, and decided to write instead.  That is the joy of what we are doing.  It's a flexible structure!  I am trying to take on the "usually not always" mentality, I am challenged by Renee's writing and I'm realizing that it is freeing to think this way!  Yes, we have a schedule, and no, we don't always stick to it.  And that is okay.

I keep everything organized using a Weekly Homeschool Planner.

After our "High Five" we go for a morning walk.  We take Ava, and we are working on taking better care of our pet, giving her more walks and exercise.  Usually the walk turns into running and the girls get some wiggles out before our circle time.

  This was a family hike we went on. I still need to capture a photo of our morning walks in our neighbourhood!

After our walk we come in, get a drink of water and sometimes a piece of fruit and start our circle time.  Our rhythm for circle consists of prayer (we all take turns thanking God), songs and rhymes (two or three), memory verse, calendar time, weather, stretching and balancing (to get moving again) and stories.

During calendar we sing about the days of the week, talk about yesterday, today and tomorrow, count the numbers for the days and talk about the colour pattern (blue, blue, red this month).  We count the days to learn which number is the day for today.  We review our birthdays and special days and sometimes read the names of the months too.  We talk about our season and decide what the weather is like today.  Then Charlotte fills in our weather graph!  It sounds like a lot, but it goes really quickly.  If the girls are restless I move along quickly.

Our stories (and memory verses) follow Sonlight curriculum, the pre-Kindergarten package. I love the books in Sonlight, and we were very blessed this year to be able to borrow all the books from a friend! There are a few activities in the curriculum and I will pick and choose these as we go. We read our Bible Story during breakfast. Our favorites so far are "Uncle Wiggly's Storybook" and "The Berenstain Bears' Big Book of Nature and Science".
photo by Charlotte

After our circle time, we do activities together. For now, I am taking ideas from a Letter of the Week Curriculum and we have worked on the letter S and T so far. We do literacy, fine motor activities (including writing), movement activities, math, art, science experiments and baking during this time.  I will share more on this at another time!  I think we will start a fall unit next week.

Then it's lunch, more stories and quiet time.  (I'm still working on implementing a quiet time, it is turning out to be a challenge!) I will share more as we go!  We are getting our rhythm, and allowing lots of time for free play. The magical stage in which the girls play together has begun, and I absolutely love it!

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” Leo F. Buscaglia

I am still on a learning curve through all of this but truthfully, I love it.  I love the planning and I love the teaching.  I am challenged by being mom and teacher.  


  1. Great to hear how things are going for you Pamela. I absolutely love what you are doing and am excited to learn from you as I look more into homeschooling Anna. Keep the posts coming. :) Kim J

  2. Pamela,
    Your day sounds great. It does sound like a lot, but it isn't. I know from when I did it when I was taking in kids, it flies by. I love your set up. I wish I had the room to do that. I love the idea of high five and only 3 days a week. I have been finding it very hard right now trying to do school activities with Kieran and getting into a routine as Nathaniel is still so young, but were still trying. :)
    Have you read any chapter books yet? I like to read a chapter a day from series like Magic Tree House or Mercy Watson. They're great series and a great way to work on remembering what happened and sequencing events.
    I look forward to reading this as often as I can and hope we can inspire ideas in each other. It'd be nice if we were closer. :)

  3. Thanks for the comments Kim and Marsha! It's true, time does fly. Yes, we read a lot of chapter books, mainly "The Littles" right now by John Peterson and the Rainbow Fairy books, they are by Daisy Meadows, and by no means are fantastic literature but Charlotte absolutely loves them. I think we've read almost every one that is in the library system!

    As for space... we have our calendar in our main living room in our entrance by the front door. Our house is 630 sq. feet with two small bedrooms. Our kitchen is a galley kitchen and very small. I often struggle with feeling like I don't have space, but I've decided just to run with it for this season. I keep my planning binder and books for the day on our windowsill in the living room! We are making do. It is hard though, I hear ya. Right now, getting outside every day helps, but in the winter, that is going to be more difficult.

    The other thing I wanted to say is... don't worry about doing too much right now with Kieran. It is SO hard with a baby, and I honestly feel like I'm just finding my groove now (Lila is two). It's so hard... I remember the days so well. Try to keep sane! Getting outside was always SO hard and time consuming, but was always so worth it I found. Take care of yourself too. I love it if we were closer. It would be great! I definitely don't have it all together but we are learning and slowly getting into a routine.