Hi Friends. :) Most of you know that we are homeschooling. Last year, we loosely followed Wee Folk Art's Preschool/Kindergarten Companion Guide. We really enjoyed all the books, recipes and crafts. I highly recommend it if you have a child between the ages 3-5 and are looking for a gentle, loosely Waldorf inspired curriculum to follow. I recommend checking out the books (or a similar book) from the library instead of buying all of them. Two books a week, all year long adds up!! I was able to find many used through amazon and a few through a lovely friend of mine ready to pass them down.
We experimented with strictly following the guide as well as trying out a unschooling approach to our life. Sugar Bear and I enjoy unschooling, while right now Rainbow Girl wants to "do school".
After much research, we have decided to use the Oak Meadow First Grade curriculum this year for Rainbow Girl. Although I do not agree with all aspects of the Waldorf philosophy, I understand them. That is another plus major of homeschooling. You can take what works for yourself and your child and leave everything else.
Over the summer, I have been working hard to simplify our lives after reading Simplicity Parenting. The book told me many things I already knew, but went in depth in some areas I needed to hear. Simply put, in order to reduce the craziness and stress in our lives, the "muchness" of our lives needed to be reduced. "To much, To fast, Too soon" is repeated many times. My children are very loved individuals and to add to that, I like to keep everything. Those two things combined makes for tons of "muchness". Payne has excellent ideas on how to eliminate all of the stuff. Throwing away all broken things and only keeping very well made toys or toys made of natural materials were very helpful to me. He goes into narrowing down toys, books, clothes, everything! It is a very inspirational book.
I went from having a large toy organizer in my living room to having a bin of wooden blocks that I made and a small basket of a handful of treasured toys. The kids are much more calm with less choices and actually play with the toys with limited arguing. I have tried to integrate this into all of the rooms in the house.
The school room went under the largest transformation. We had hundreds of toys arranged wonderfully on these fantastic shelves that I had made in the room's closet. I also had many, many textbooks on the upper shelves. I always thought if it fits, it can be in the closet. I had ten, large shoe box sized bins full or organized toys in the closet, as well as three or four large toys on the lower shelves. I eliminated all but a couple plastic toys. We now have a wooden bowl full of wooden turnings, a few wooden stackers, a wooden tow truck with cars, a few empty baskets for sorting, beanbags I made, basket of dress up things, a wire toy, box of alphabet blocks, farm, and a box of musical instruments. It still may be too much, but for the time being, it is working well. I also moved all the books that we aren't currently using this year to my teacher's closet in the arcade room. You'd think a child would react badly to the majority of their toys disappearing, but my kids reacted very, very well. "Mama! My shelves are so clean!"
Once I get to my dream point of simplification, I'll post more pictures on that topic. :)
We decided that this year, we needed a chalkboard. We have been making due with a small dry erase board in the kitchen for our daily plans, but a large chalkboard was needed. I researched and scoured ebay and craigslist. Large chalkboards are pricey!! We decided that the best option for us would be to paint a wall of the school room with chalkboard paint.
I first patched the holes in the wall and then sanded the entire wall to a smooth finish. Then I primed the wall with grey primer. After spilling primer on the carpet crushed my spirit, my wonderful dad (expert at everything, and paintbrush whisperer) came over to help me paint the chalkboard paint.
Although the paint dries to the touch in under an hour, it needs to sit for three days before use. After the three days, you prime the wall by chalking the entire surface, and then erasing it. The wee ones were very helpful in completing this job!
|Dry chalkboard surface.|
|Beginning to chalk the surface.|
|Chalking, chalking, chalking.|
|Drawing our house and slide.|
|Oh! It's raining outside! Puddle time!|
|Crazy adorable kids the next day on the way to the park.|
|Our nature table.|
|Light table boxes under the water table.|
I plan to write a weekly blog on our homeschooling adventure this year, if only for our records. We start Monday!