Well, we’re almost to July (if you can even believe it!) and I’m happy to report that our first few weeks of homeschooling have gone really well. I was worried, of course, because I’m already tight on time since I’m a full-time blogger and I have the two kids all day but we’ve worked out a system that’s keeping everything under control.
The best part of all is that we didn’t have to totally turn our house upside down to do it! Looking on Pinterest, I had seen a ton of people who created full classrooms in their homes in order to homeschool and I was feeling a lot of pressure to do the same for Eva (crazy-making in our teeny little rental house) so I’m quite relieved that we’ve found a way to create a school space in our home without making our home feel like a school. Also, it was cheap! I like cheap!!
Our system is all organized around a 10-drawer Mobile Organizer that I bought back when I was heavily into scrapbooking in college. I swear that every household in America has had one of these babies at one time or another because I see them all the time, either in people’s craft rooms or at the thrift store seeking a second home.
I used the drawers to organize our homeschool preschool around five subject areas: life skills, language arts, science, mathematics, and arts/crafts. Even these subjects might have been overkill since preschool age kids learn by doing pretty much anything they want to do, but I wanted to try a balanced approach so I’d have a better sense of whether or not I’d be out of my league trying to teach math and science when I’m such a language arts kind of person. (Spoiler: I’m not and it’s fine.)
The top of the drawer unit has a tray with flashcards because we use them often, Eva’s abacus, and a small pencil box with an eraser, safety scissors, two pencils, and about 8 crayons since crayon-hunting is too distracting for school stuff. I was going to get her a larger pencil box so she could have markers and colored pencils and tape and all sorts of fun things at her disposal, but now I just pull those out for specific activities to keep her from being overwhelmed.
Since there are two drawers per color in our storage thing, I use the top drawer for activities that Eva does by herself (indicated by a little drawing of Eva) and the drawer underneath it is for activities she does with me (indicated by another little drawing). The deal is that we can’t do the together activity until she finishes the solo activity, which is motivating for her since the together activities are usually a little more fun. It also means that I get moments of work time while Eva is quietly doing her own thing in each subject.
She doesn’t go subject to subject but she also doesn’t seem to be favoring any particular one and I just refill the empty drawers at night without worrying about what she didn’t complete. (If her solo is empty, but she’s saving her together activity in any subject, I do leave the solo one open so I don’t forget that she earned some mom time. Otherwise, meanest mom ever.) I also don’t force her to do an activity if I notice that it’s been sitting there for a week, but we do talk about why she didn’t want to do it. Usually she either misunderstood the activity or she didn’t know what to do.
To fill the drawers, I either use flat activities that will fit or I use my Instax to take a picture of what she should use or play with. The nice thing about the Instax is that I can write the activity name right on there to help with her word recognition and the photos are reusable so I just keep them in a little stack on a nearby shelf. I do have a few other homeschooling resources, but they’re in magazine holders, in one particular basket in Eva’s wardrobe, and on the shelf with my other books. It was really important to me that homeschooling didn’t eat our life, so I’m happy that this is a manageable level of clutter.
If you’re curious about what types of activities I’m using for each subject, you can check out these posts on our brand new homeschooling blog:
There’s also a wild card that floats around as a “together” activity and it’s by far Eva’s favorite card to get so I tend to stack a more difficult or time-consuming solo activity in front of it because I know she’ll blaze through it to get to this card: the homeschool outing card.
I actually love this card because it’s been a challenge for me to think up new outings and new ways to approach places we go often in a way that will teach Eva concrete things. It’s also great to see her out on homeschool outings because she’s really focused on learning. To help make it a real event, we got her a personalized kids t-shirt from Petite Lemon that says “Hello! My Name is Eva. I’m busy learning,” and when she has it on it’s like a school uniform. Little lady is all business.
I feel like the homeschooling is going well and even though I know homeschool at the preschool level is worlds away from homeschooling at the fourth or fifth grade level, I’m a lot more optimistic about it now that we’ve started the journey and nobody has gone crazy. Will it stick? We’ll see…in the meantime, Eva is engaged and occupied for the summer with lots of mom work time and mom play time built in. Works for me!!
PPS – Kyle was getting a little jealous with everyone in the house having a blog but him, so you can pop over to Ever Clever Dad to leave him a little love.