2020: What’s Been Going On With Us

Today, I’m sharing what has happened with us since Coronavirus and a major announcement. Oh 2020, you’ve been a turbulent year!

Can we all just agree that 2020 sucks? Oh, my Lord, 2020 has been a crazy year. I remember when my naive little self swore up and down that 2020 would be my year. This would be the year I reinvented myself. This would be the year I lost weight, had a successful blog, and made a new circle of friends.

Little did I know that I’d basically not leave my house from March until…what month is it? In March I traveled six hours to see a friend of mine. God, I miss that girl! It was a hard trek with two kids and in tow, but it was all worth it to see her. Unfortunately, that was pretty much my last outing. When I came back the Coronavirus was on an upward swing and my hometown was the haven for many of the newly infected patients that were coming off cruise ships.

Throughout the rest of March and April we really just did like everyone else and stayed home. My hubby was able to work from home and I decided to have a good attitude about being shut-in. We dug in and enjoyed our home. We dined outside, played in the back yard, and had cozy family movie nights. Also, we ate about nine loaves of homemade bread. You can find my simple bread recipe on the blog.

May

In May my oldest turned five. We are so lucky to have a beach just three hours away. Port Aransas is such a fun weekend getaway and my youngest loves the ocean. We were able to socially distance the entire time we were there. The nearest people were a couple hundred yards away and the boys had a blast! It was totally good for the soul. After almost two months of being cooped it, it filled my cup.

We spent lots of time helping my parents prepare their house for sale. There was so much to coordinate and since they are both high risk, we took on a lot of the things that needed to be done.

June

In June, we did more of the same. We stayed home and really only saw my parents. The strange thing is that I had become perfectly content. I was not missing any of my old activities anymore. However, I did make one big change. I got off Facebook. Can I just be honest? I needed a real break. I was really tired of everyone’s opinions. Everyone was suddenly a doctor with Corona opinions. The political discussions were getting nasty and vulgar. My newsfeed was filled with post after post of negative, hateful comments. It was exhausting seeing that every day so I decided it was time for a break.

I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand and ignore current events or be uninformed about vital issues. But there is lots of misinformation and biased information around Facebook. Not only that but people are just nasty to each other about differences of opinion and when my newsfeed became flooded with that kind of stuff, well…it felt like I was watching a twenty-four hour news cycle. And who wants to do that? I want to see pictures of your cute kids and what you did this weekend.

It also dawned on me that the reason why it is so soul-sucking is because we aren’t meant to digest that amount of negativity. Years ago, before the media invaded every area of your life, you were largely unaffected and removed from the awful things happening in the world. Sure, you’d hear about big events, but you weren’t bombarded with it 24/7. These days, there is almost no escape. Everything is politicized.

I just needed to step away and regroup. Regain composure. Renew my mind. Seek some peace and balance. I really felt like God was nudging me to step away. I really struggled with it because I get a great deal of my blog traffic is from Facebook. How would my blog survive? I obeyed God and totally trusted him and his leading. It really helped. My joy came back! I spent the majority of the time loving on my kids and husband and dipping in my parent’s pool. We spent nearly every weekend with my mom and dad. It really filled my cup. It’s September now and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And my blog is more successful than ever. In fact, this year, I paid for all my blog expenses and made a profit.

June also found us in the hospital. Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, my poor pop spent it in the hospital due to pulmonary edema. COVID was starting to escalate in San Antonio and so it was rather scary to have my dad in there. It was also pretty frustrating that they didn’t really resolve his problem, they just did more of what he was already doing. Please keep my dad in prayer for healing as he is still dealing with it.

July

In July, my mom’s condition worsened and she had a heart procedure done. It was really scary but COVID was at an all-time high here in San Antonio. They sent her home from the hospital pretty quickly to reduce the chance of infection. My mom’s procedure didn’t solve my mother’s ailment. Another battery of tests would be needed to get to the root of her condition.

My grandfather also took a turn for the worse. He had stopped eating and was very sick. They hospitalized him in early July and I drove to Houston to be with him. All these hospitalizations during COVID have been so stressful. You can’t be with your loved one in the hospital which really compounds the stress. My grandfather’s health is still waning.

As for us, we continued preparing my parent’s house for selling and we spent a lot of time in our garden. We had a great harvest. My oldest son enjoyed collecting vegetables. It was such a novelty to him.

We also learned that because of COVID, my husband’s company would be doing layoffs. We weren’t worried about my husband’s job because we felt like he and his position are highly valued. Little did we know this situation would take a turn (keep reading).

We also started homeschooling earlier than expected. My oldest son was begging to start homeschooling already. You can read all about our Kindergarten curriculum. This is also the first year that I am teaching both kids.

August

My mother’s health continues to decline. This month she’ll have a biopsy and multiple tests done. They are looking to rule out cancer so we are asking for prayers.

We also finally found our grove with homeschooling. I am managing well with teaching tot school, kindergarten and my household responsibilities.

Oh, August. You were the month that changed everything. This month we were informed that my husband’s company is closing their local office. They will be laying off 20% of their staff and relocating those who remain to Houston. Y’all, this was a gut punch to us. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we just went through this a year ago! It was so stressful to job hunt for six months and here we are again!

With the combining of offices, we may not be as secure as we originally thought because of the potential duplication of roles. Also, with my parent’s health declining, parting from them is the very last thing I want to do. The week we found out I was really upset. Like had-a-complete-meltdown-with-God kind of upset. There were lots of ugly tears and complaining. I couldn’t sleep worrying about all the possible undesirable scenarios. I think my breakdown was also a build-up of the stressors we have been dealing with for months. The stresses of all my loved ones who are ill, the stress of selling my parent’s house (and knowing we may have to go through it again for us), the fact that life is so different post-Corona.

I decided to be obedient to the Lord and accept whatever His will is. I’ve made up my mind not to worry about this and laid it at the cross for God to sort out. Y’all, I don’t know how all of this will turn out. I don’t know what will happen or how we’ll get through this. Instead of obsessing over what I don’t know, I will dwell on what I do know. What I do know is the Lord is insanely good. His plan and His will are perfect and flawless. He radically loves us and is always working for my ultimate good (salvation and sanctification). And He never ever leaves us!

I’ll be posting more about this situation as we know more. In the meantime, please drop your prayer requests in the comments. I’d love to pray for you if you are struggling.

Free Preschool Sight Word Flashcards

Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.

Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.

Is Your Child Ready to Read?

Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own

  • They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
  • They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
  • They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
  • They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.

If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.

sight word flashcards

Using Sight Words

Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.

To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.

Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.

For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.

Extra Practice

If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.

I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.

Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.

our preschool homeschool curriculum
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs associated with this blog. So thank you!

Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.

Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.

A Preschool Introduction

Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below

A typical preschool day for us includes the following:

  • Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
  • Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
  • Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
  • Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
  • Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
  • Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
  • Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)

Math

One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.

  • SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
  • COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
  • SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
  • PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
  • POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.

our preschool homeschool curriculum

If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.

In fact, if you want to make things simple and just do a textbook experience, Horizons offers an entire all-in-one preschool curriculum. It covers Math, Phonics, Physical Education, Health, Science and Social Studies and comes with a DVD and manipulatives. Note: Curriculum is Christian-based.

Handwriting

I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.

One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.

If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.

Reading

Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.

Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.

Phonics

Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.

There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.

The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.

And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.

Arts & Crafts

Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.

Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.

our preschool home curriculum
arts and crafts

Science

There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.

For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.

We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.

Bible Study

If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.

Before You Go

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.

If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.

Check out some of my other homeschool posts like How to Start Homeschooling and Our Homeschool Room Tour

Our Homeschool Room Tour

Today I am pulling back the curtain and giving you a glimpse inside our homeschool room. Join me for our homeschool room tour!

Our homeschool room tour
Some links are affiliate links. Meaning, should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I am often asked about our homeschool room and with so many friends turning to homeschooling this fall due to COVID, I’ve decided to give you our homeschool room tour. First, let me start by saying, I know how blessed I am to have a dedicated room. I know most people don’t have an extra room to use. That said, many families opt for the kitchen table or home office as a learning space. However, when my husband and I were building our house, years before we had children, we knew we were going to homeschool. Therefore, we built this room just for homeschooling. If you are just homeschooling for this coming year due to COVID, a kitchen table is fine! If you are interested in learning about more about homeschooling permanently I have lots of homeschooling posts including, Homeschooling Methods Explained.

Lots of moms have asked me if you need a dedicated room. I would say you need a dedicated space. That doesn’t mean the room can’t serve more than one purpose. Up until last year our classroom was also a playroom. But since we buckled down on home education, we removed the toys and put them in their bedrooms. That would probably be my only caveat. I have found that if you have little ones, removing distraction is key. Having the toys in the same room as our learning space is just too distracting for my little guys.

Let’s start our tour and I will explain why and how I do things.

Our Room

our homeschool room tour

Our room is the game room in our house. It is at the top of the landing in our house. Before kids, it was just another comfy living space. Our space isn’t really decorated. I added some color with a rug, but it was more to protect our carpet in case we accidentally spilled glue, paint, or other stuff. I’d rather replace a $100 rug than wall-to-wall carpeting! I put up some matching curtains for color and made some streamers and alphabet with paper and stickers. A few of the alphabets have fallen down and I just haven’t made time to get the ladder from the garage and put them back up. I’ll do that before we start school again in a few weeks. Other than that it is a hodgepodge of bookcases and file cabinets. I don’t really care if things are matching. It’s more about functionality than aesthetics.

The Desk and Chairs

I’ll be honest, it took me forever to decide what kind of desk and chairs to get. There are so many options and I had no idea what I wanted it to look like. Well, I finally made a decision a few years back. I decided to build my own desk with IKEA accessories. I got two desktops from IKEA in gray. They are basically long rectangles. Then I bought four drawers and put the tops on top. We then secured the top with brackets. I offset the drawers to create a square table with four workstations which gives us plenty of space to work.

Furthermore, I decided on this set up for one main reason. I have no idea if we will always be in this house. Right now, we have space to create this four-workstation look. However, if we have to move, I can take this desk apart and create more of a traditional workstation with two drawers on each side and a rectangular top. It’s versatile.

PARDON MY KIDS THINGS ON THE FLOOR. I purposely didn’t pick them up because I want you to know this room is almost never pristine! We live in this room and it is often messy and disorganized. Real-life, friends!

In the drawers, I keep art supplies, workbooks, construction paper, playdoh, paper plates (for crafts and painting), and all kinds of other school-related materials. On top of the table, I found a cute craft carousel from Michaels Craft Stores. Here I keep all the supplies we use all day long so they are close at hand. Things like paintbrushes, glue sticks, glue, markers, pencils, erasers. dot stampers, pencil sharpeners, watercolors, rulers, etc.

I decided on these chairs by IKEA because they adjust to the children’s height as they grow. They were $35 each and they still have them on the IKEA site. Additionally, we have an old tv in the room for when we watch educational videos and we have a Melissa and Doug Calendar.

Where to Buy

desk
desk
desktop organizer

Bookcase & White Board

whiteboard

We repurposed my husband’s old office bookcase. In here I keep our curriculum, educational books, some educational games, DVDs, dictionary, thesaurus, etc. I keep a large trash can here for all of our craft messes. I also keep some folders (Target Dollar Spot) for my teacher organization. I also keep my teacher planner (The Happy Planner) on this rack. We have a teacher whiteboard and a wooden abacus which really helped my little ones count and are helping them learn addition and subtraction. Below the whiteboard, I repainted an old coat hook mint and sprayed the metal gold. I found some metal pails at the Target Dollar Spot and filled them with things like dry erase markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.

Small Desk

little desk

We have a smaller children’s table and chairs which my mother had specially made for my boys. It doesn’t provide enough room for our studies so we use it as a dedicated coloring station. I have this awesome roll of paper dispenser which is bladeless for the kids to draw on. I give them each a pail of crayons and they have fun drawing away.

Where to Buy

Tall Bookcase & Filing Cabinet

our homeschool room tour

We use an old filing cabinet for a lot of my teaching materials including teachers manuals, sensory bin fillers, file folders, worksheets and other things we want put away from the kids. We have a globe which the kids absolutely love! It has been such a great learning tool! I’ll go through the bookcase with more detail.

our homeschool room tour

On the Top

Up at the top, I keep bins for Art, Colors, and Language. The art bin contains things like paints, glitter, etc. I keep these things up high so that the kids can’t get into them and potentially spill them on the rug. In the colors bin, I keep colorful counters that we use for math and color sorting as well as other color-related activities. Lastly, I have a tub labeled “language.” In this bin, I keep different kinds of letter related activities.

On the second shelf, I have some awesome picture vocabulary photo cards I bought from Lakeshore learning. I keep extra boxes of pencils and erasers. I keep dot markers in a glass container. Also, I have two photo boxes (purchased at Michaels) that are full of all kinds of math activities and learning items like play money, shapes, etc.

Middle Shelves

Shelves

On the Middle shelves I have a storage container with drawers. These are similar to what you might use as an organizer in your garage for nuts, bolts, and screws. Originally, I used this for language. I had letters of the alphabet on each of the drawers and inside the drawers I put objects that started with that word. For example, the letter ‘C’ drawer had things like a candle, cotton, candy, coins, a car, a crayon, and a cardinal. You get the idea. After my kids outgrew this, I use it to store small parts that we use for homeschooling. We use TOOB figures in our learning all the time. For example, when we learned about Egypt, I bought some TOOB Egyptian figures. We learned what everything was called and then we pretended to excavate them in kinetic sand. So much fun!

The decorative boxes are just filled with miscellanies like flash cards, lacing cards and other things. The decorative boxes were purchased at Michaels craft stores.

Bottom Shelves

Our homeschool room tour

The last shelves have some miscellanies. I have a nautical tote filed with felt activity books (quiet busy books). We use these for quiet playtime during the day. I promptly put them away after using so that we don’t lose pieces. In the magazine holders, I have activity books organized by grade level.

On the bottom, I have file boxes. In these boxes are 180 manila file folders. They represent 180 school days. Each one labeled with a day (e.g. Day 1, Day 2, etc) I organize the kid’s schoolwork into these folders. Once we get through all 180 folders we are done for the year.

Where to Buy

Thanks for joining our homeschool room tour

Thank you for joining me on our homeschool room tour. I hope I’ve given you an insight as to how we stay organized all year. If you have questions about anything, I am happy to answer them. Just leave me a question in the comments and I’ll answer.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Are you looking for some curriculum recommendations? Here are our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum choices as we start schooling at home this Fall.

our kindergarten homeschool curriculum
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I have been asked by numerous friends and family about our curriculum choices for Kindergarten. I am certainly happy to share what we have decided to use. First, let me share the tool that really helped us make some decisions. This book has been a Godsend to me. It is a handbook of sorts for homeschooling families. In fact, I’ve included it before as a must-read homeschooling book in my post 4 Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The resource is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this comprehensive book, Duffy provides a questionnaire to help narrow down the homeschooling method that is right for you and your family. (You can read more about homeschooling methods in my post Homeschooling Methods Explained) Then, she provides information on how to determine how what kind of learner your child is. For instance, some students may be tactile learners (hands-on), visual or etc. Some children prefer to work independently, while others need instructor-led education. Some families prefer textbooks, while others want an online experience. This book helps to determine those choices and ranks curriculum based on those needs so you understand which material will be a good fit. The book also provides a thorough review of each of the curriculum choices including the time intensity of the program, other materials that might be needed, and cost.

You can purchase Duffy’s Homeschool Picks through the affiliate links below. You may also purchase it through her website, Cathy Duffy Homeschool Reviews. I think the book is easier to navigate than the website and provides more handholding when choosing a curriculum, but the website is also a wonderful curriculum source.

Lastly, when it comes to choosing which subjects you are going to teach, understand that some states may have specific requirements. So, don’t forget to look up your state’s requirements first.

Where to Buy Curriculum

First, all publishers of the curriculum have their own websites with information and links on where you may purchase curriculum. However, my favorite shopping source is Rainbow Resource. Even though they are a smaller company they have one of the largest selections. They carry about 40,000 educational resources all geared towards homeschooling. You can purchase online, but they also provide (for the asking) paper catalogs that you can browse through.

Homeschool Buyers Co-Op is another good source for curriculum. They run sales often and even provide teacher and student IDs for your homeschool for about $5. As a co-op, they have big discounts on lots of curriculum. You can also find curriculum on Amazon, Christian Book, and The Curriculum Store. You can even buy used curriculum in Buy/Sell Homeschool Groups on Facebook.

Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

Social Studies / History

Most kindergarten curriculum does not include social studies or history at this age. However, even at the preschool age, I introduced my son to Egyptology. He is fascinated by The Great Sphinx. Jack can name things like a cartouche, sarcophagus, canopic jar, and hieroglyphics. He can even recognize the images of Pharaoh, King Tut, and Nefertiti. We talked about the four directions (the points on a compass). I taught him how to find our city, state, and country on a globe. We’ve also talked extensively about our Apache heritage. My point is that even though they are young, your child may enjoy social studies and history. Most children don’t really start this until the elementary years, but since our son has expressed interest and we are history lovers ourselves, we have introduced it earlier. You certainly do not need to include this in your homeschooling unless your state requires it.

We are using 180 Days of Social Studies. I plan on using this workbook for regular social studies lessons. Additionally, I plan to supplement some fun field trips to museums and historic sites here locally. The social studies workbook has 180 days of lessons which is the average length of a school year.

The social studies workbook introduces concepts like civics, economics, and history. I admit that I don’t like that these books are in black and white. The lessons are also very simple. I would prefer something more comprehensive, but there aren’t a lot of choices at this age so I’m willing to use this for now to at least introduce the subject matter. I’m sure in first grade I will find something more in-depth.

We are also using DK Geography Workbook. The geography book covers topics like how to read maps, our community, landscapes, and spatial skills. The workbook itself is fairly short (only about 40 lessons) so I will combine it with the social studies.

Math

Math is a scary subject for me. Perhaps because I’ve come to realize that it’s very easy to fall behind and then stay behind. So far, Jack has done very well learning things like counting to 100, number recognition, etc. I think that he may need some visual and hands-on work as we start to introduce additional math concepts to him in Kindergarten. So I found a program that is both Classical-friendly and also has some tactile learning, Horizon’s Math. The set includes two workbooks and a teacher’s manual. The lessons include directions and positions, introducing simple fractions, time, days of the week, money values, adding and subtracting single digits, etc. The other nice thing about Horizons is that they have done the lesson planning for you into 180 lessons. So far I am very pleased with this curriculum. Aside from the workbook, the teacher’s manual provides additional games and activities you can do with your child to cement concepts.

In addition to the curriculum, we use these math manipulatives and math counters so that our children can visualize addition and subtraction. We also use dominoes which is a great way for children to learn patterns and visualize numbers in the dots as well.

Horizon Math

Handwriting

Jack is struggling with handwriting. He hates coloring and using a pencil. Honestly, it has been a frustrating experience for both of us. Because he laments doing anything that requires writing, we had been more focused on pre-writing skills. We’ve been doing lots of things that don’t feel like handwriting practice, like salt writing, tracing, looping, etc. After lots of discussions with teachers and hours of research, we are going to be using Handwriting Without Tears. This program seems to be one of the better ones for resistant learners. Hopefully, this will help us break through some of the frustration. HWT is a workbook based writing program but includes multisensory learning. It has leveled books and a teacher’s manual. Wish us luck!

UPDATE: We’ve been using Handwriting Without Tears and we have a completely different child! After four weeks of using the program, Jack is writing! He loves it. We had tried other programs during pre-k, but none of them managed to break through his resistance to it. I can’t even begin to explain my love for this program. It is quick and easy and it has made writing fun for Jack. I will tell you one thing that really helped was using the program’s chalkboard in addition to the workbook. He wants to do handwriting first before other subjects every day. The blackboard isn’t currently available on Amazon. You can buy it through Christian Book below.

Blackboard with Double Lines (Grades Pre-K – 4+)

our kindergarten curriculum

Phonics and Reading

So far, choosing a Phonics program has been one of the hardest things I’ve researched. There are so many choices out there that claim to be the best. Dyslexia runs in my family, so naturally, I am concerned about that with Jack. I do think that Jack needs a program that is fun and engaging. We are starting with Hooked On Phonics. One of the main reasons we are choosing it is because my brothers and I used it to read when we were children, so obviously, it’s been around for a while. It tried and true. There are two levels for every grade and you can buy them individually. The levels are about $26 each so it also one of the more reasonable programs out there. I figured we can try it and if it doesn’t work out, we haven’t invested much.

Since we are classical homeschoolers, we focus heavily on reading. Here is our fiction reading list. We will also be reading lots of other books that are about science, notable people, places, and other things, but here are our storytime books. I’ve included them in the post, Classical Books for Kindergarteners. We are getting most of them through the library and used book sources.

We are also playing a fun phonics game called, Launch and Learn: Beginning Sounds from Lakeshore. This really isn’t part of our curriculum. It’s just something we can do as a family, helps reinforce phonics and doesn’t feel like learning! It’s not available through Amazon and is only available on the Lakeshore website.

Bible Study

Our Bible Study is simply consisting of reading stories from The Complete Children’s Illustrated Bible. This bible is in full color and has beautiful illustrations on every page. One thing I love about this particular bible is that it does not omit stories that other children’s bibles do. For instance, in the Moses story, it plainly says that the Egyptians drowned when God closed the Red Sea. It does not water down Cain murdering his brother Abel or the killing of the firstborns by Pharaoh. Nor does it leave out Sodom and Gomorrah. It does however, leave out the Song of Solomon. I love that even though it is in story-form for young readers, it still is very complete.

We are reading 2-4 pages per day. Since a great deal of the pages are illustrations, it is a very quick read. In addition to reading Bible stories, we will also be singing some praise songs, hymns, and children’s Christian songs.

Science

You may find that Science is hard to come by at the Kindergarten level. Most children begin learning Science in first grade. I did not include Science in my original version of this post because we were still trying to find resources. My husband, who is a chemical engineer is excited to help with our Science class. Here are the resources we are using.

First, we are using a DK workbook. We only do one or two lessons per week. The DK workbooks are very simple and not very colorful, but there isn’t a whole lot out there at this age. It does introduce basic concepts like botany, light, the five senses, states of matter, etc. I often expound on the lesson with experiments or observations. I was going to use Berean Builders but decided to use that in the first grade instead. We also have a simple Kindergarten science lab kit to conduct kitchen experiments. My son loves to wear the lab coat when we conduct our experiments. Then we purchased two books, Awesome Kitchen Science Experiments for Kids and Awesome Science Experiments for Kids, to do our kitchen experiments. So far he is loving it!

science experiment

Supplements

Melissa and Doug Learning Clock

I never considered how confusing it is to explain the concept of time to a five-year-old. Seconds, minutes, hours. The 7 represents both a 7 and 35. The 12 is a 12, 60, and a 00. This learning clock by Melissa and Doug has been awesome. We bought it in May this year and it has totally helped him under the concepts better and he’s doing fantastic so far telling time. First, we worked on learning 5-minute increments along with the hour. After being fluent in that, we will then introduce how to read the precise minute. Then we will introduce quarter and half-hours. This clock comes with flashcards to practice. It has been so helpful! In just the first week of owning it, my son finally understood what I had been trying to explain for months.

learning clock

Play Money

This past year we started to implement a small allowance for my oldest in exchange for doing household chores. It’s important to us that he learns the value of money and delayed gratification when it comes to buying things. That said, it dawned on me that he had no concept of the worth of money, so I decided to dedicate some time to learning about money. Sure, we played “store.” He understood the concept of money being exchanged for goods and services, but it was time to learn how to count money. So, I purchased some realistic play money to be used in our math studies.

Calendar

We learned about seasons and weather in preschool. Now in Kindergarten, I am requesting that Jack use this Melissa and Doug calendar at the start of our homeschool day.

Music and Arts & Crafts

We will incorporate arts and craft times throughout the week. I find hobby stores have lots of seasonal crafts that are fun as well as coloring and painting.

Over the last couple of years. Jack already knows some musical terms like piano, pianissimo, crescendo, accelerando, forte and fortissimo. We will continue to introduce and add more musical terms and we will listen to one piece of classical music a day. Jack already loves several pieces by Verdi and Peer Gynt “In The Hall of the Mountain King.”

That’s it. If you have questions about curriculum or homeschooling, feel free to ask them in the comments section. If this is your first year of homeschooling, try not to stress too much about it. Homeschooling is a journey and there is a lot of trial and error as you find your way. You can find me on Instagram where I share our homeschool day and activities.

Blessings,

Mary

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

Introduce your child to the joy of reading classical literature. Here is a list of classical books for kindergarteners for homeschooling or reading pleasure.

classical books for kindergarten
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Classical books are some of the greatest teaching tools for your children. When you introduce a child to reading, you introduce them to a vivid imagination, new vocabulary, and novel concepts. Classical books that stand the test of time in regards to storytelling, subject matter, and quality. As a classical homeschooler, we focus heavily on Classical literature. But even if your child is public schooled, I encourage you to read classic books.

Many classic books are more conservative than their contemporary counterparts, thus preserving your child’s innocence. Also, classical literature typically contains richer vocabulary than most modern books which are full of modern colloquiums. Classic books also offer a different perspective of history and the world, which brings me to my next point.

Classical Literature For a Lifetime

Starting the habit of reading classical literature can foster a love of classical reading for a lifetime. I was very blessed that my mother read all the books I’m about to share below. As I grew, my love of books continued well into my teenage years and remained a cornerstone of my classical education. As your child develops and matures, continue adding age-appropriate classics. For example, as a pre-teen, I loved reading Jane Austin, Bronte, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Rimbaud, and James Fenimore Cooper. By high school, I was reading books like The Devine Comedy (Dante), Paradise Lost (Milton), War and Peace, and In Cold Blood (Capote) and The Count of Monte Cristo. As a young adult under twenty, I read 1984 (Orwell), Animal Farm (Orwell), Atlas Shrugged (Rand), Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky), The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer) and The Prince (Machiavelli).

I am certain of how introducing reading early, particularly classical literature and poetry, can cement a fondness for it that lasts a lifetime. I absolutely attribute my love of books to my mother, who read to us every day as children. Most people are surprised to learn I have dyslexia. Although reading and writing requires more concentration for me than for others, I’ve always enjoyed reading. Perhaps in a future post, I’ll compile a list of classical books for adults.

Classical Literature for Children

Although this list is long, you needn’t worry about buying every book. Public libraries are a great resource for classics. Some libraries offer the ability to order books from other branches if it isn’t available at your branch. Many libraries even have their catalogs online, so you can see if your public library carries it. Some even allow you to reserve copies online. Half Price Books, ABE Books, and other used book stores are also a great resource.

If you can only afford a few books, I recommend investing in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Aesops Fables, Greek Mythology, and Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. You will see that so many of the great stories we come to know as children originate from these books. You can find illustrated versions of these books at Amazon and other book retailers. Here are some examples of the stories you can find in those treasuries.

Famous Tales by Hans Christian Anderson

  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Little Mermaid
  • The Princess and the Pea
  • The Snow Queen (you know it as Disney’s Frozen)
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • Thumbelina
  • The Tinder Box (The Pied Piper)

Famous Grimm’s Fairy Tales

  • The Twelve Brothers
  • Rapunzel
  • Hansel and Gretel
  • The Fisherman and His Wife
  • Cinderella
  • Little Red Riding Hood
  • The Bremen Town Musicians
  • The Shoemaker and the Elves
  • Thumbling Travels (Tom Thumb)
  • Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snow White
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • The Golden Goose
  • The Twelve Huntsman
  • The Wolf and the Fox
Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Benefits of Reading to Children

Reading is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your child. Just take a look at some of the benefits your child receives by daily reading.

  • The sound of your voice is calming to your child
  • It models proper diction and enunciation
  • Increases their vocabulary
  • Showing your child the text improves letter and word recognition
  • Promotes a longer attention span
  • Books teach about morals, situations, personalities, emotions, and relationships.
  • Helps to reinforce parental bonds and quality time
  • Fosters imagination
  • Raises IQ level

Classical Books for Kindergarteners

I really hope that this list of classical books for kindergarteners helps you and perhaps even challenges you to read more classics with your child. I know it will be a great experience for both of you! In the comments below, I would love to hear what your favorite book was growing up.

10 Toys That Teach Kids About the Human Body

Science can be fun learning at any age with these 10 toys that teach kids about the human body.

10 TOYS THAT TEACH KIDS ABOUT THE HUMAN BODY

I’m not sure how it happened, but my four-year-old has fallen in love with the human body. He is fascinated by it. Even his pediatrician was taken aback when he could name all the anatomy of the human ear. He also knows the systems (e.g. circulatory, muscular, vascular, neurological, etc) of the body. So much was learned simply through play. Kids learn so much that way and they don’t even realize they are soaking it all in like a sponge.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite 10 toys that teach kids about the human body. I will try to include the age appropriateness with each of the toys. However, many of the toys can be used with younger children as long as they are supervised.

Magnetic Human Body

I love Melissa and Doug toys because they aren’t plastic. Even though the M&D products are a little on the pricey side, I still swear by them. This cute wooden Melissa and Doug set has twenty-four pieces that help children envision the human body and how it works from the inside. I found this was perfect for ages three to five. It is simple enough for some toddlers and all preschoolers to understand.

Squishy Human Body

The Squishy Human body has 21 pieces. This was an absolute favorite for my four-year-old. It does say it is designed for ages eight and up, but my four-year-old loved it. The bones come apart and it comes with a booklet explaining the parts and their function in the body. Even the skull comes apart to reveal a realistic brain. All the organs are squishy giving it a real feel and look.

Magic School Bus: Human Body Lab

Based on the Scholastic and Netflix series, this educational kit comes with experiment cards, a skeleton, posters, and stickers. This great for kiddos five and up. Fun fact: this was actually developed by Harvard graduates, scientists and educators to make it a full, exciting experience. This was a little lower on our favorite list, but still a great learning tool.

Kakiblin Organ Apron

This cute apron has felt organs on the front that is used to model the human body. The organs are completely removable by velcro so your little one can practice putting the organs in the correct place. Even my two-year-old loves to attach the organs with his older brother.

Learning Resources Floor Skeleton

Learning Resources has an awesome floor puzzle that helps kids identify bones and learn how they connect together. It is made of fifteen foam pieces that you assemble on the floor that stands nearly four feet. On one side is the image of the bone and on the back, it gives the name of each bone. It’s great for ages three and up.

Disgusting Science Kit

This toy isn’t so much about anatomy, but rather about what our bodies do. This disgusting science kit is full of fun hands-on experiments. Children discover and make fake blood and slimy snot, as well as the stinky intestines and their role in the human body. They also can grow safe bacteria and mold and how it can be used to fight infection. This is for older children around the age of eight and requires adult supervision.

The Journey Match It – All About Me

This word puzzle allows your child to both build their vocabulary and also learn to identify body parts and organs. There are 30 sets of puzzle pieces and this is great for children four and up. Even my four year old loves doing this in his beginning reading stages.

Genetics and DNA Science Kit

This genetics and DNA kit is for older children around eight, but it is a great way to introduce the science around our genetic code and molecular structure. In this kit they’ll construct models of the double helix DNA structure. Also they’ll learn about the pioneering scientists in genetics. Your child will feel like a scientist as they conduct experiments with this fun, educational kit.

Ben Franklin Doctor Lab Biology Kit

This takes playing doctor to a whole other level! This kit by Ben Franklin Toys, very much resembles a doctor’s kit. However, it delves deeper into the role of a physician. Children will conduct 12 experiments and tests. It includes 30 tools such as a stethoscope, bandage, shot, activity cards, anatomy model, brain game, eye chart, and more! When children aren’t conducting tests, they can use it for dramatic play like any other doctor’s kit.

Learning Resources Brain Model

This Learning Resources Brain Model is definitely better suited for older children. In this human anatomy model, children will build the brain using pieces of the cerebellum, frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital lobes. I will say the model is on the smaller side once completed. It’s smaller than four inches, but I do think it gives a very thorough look at the intricacies of the brain.

I hope you and your family enjoy these toys as much as we did.

Homeschooling Methods Explained

So you’ve decided to homeschool but don’t know where to begin. With all the choices available it can be confusing so here are the homeschooling methods explained.

homeschooling methods explained
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash; This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I own or love.

So you’ve decided to homeschool or maybe you are just interested and would like to learn more about it. Homeschooling methods can be confusing at first which is why I will explain in the simplest of terms.

Homeschooling can be a wonderful choice. There are lots of reasons why homeschooling is becoming more popular. You can read all about Why We Homeschool. Everyone’s reasons will vary and there are lots of myths that need to be cleared up. You can read all about that in my post, Debunking Myths About Homeschooling.

Today, I’m going to explain the most common methods of homeschooling. I think understanding the methods is crucial to how you will be selecting the curriculum.

Some of my favorite resources for curriculum are Rainbow Resource, The Homeschool Buyers Co-op and Christian Book. Christian Book is a great resource for both classical and Charlotte Mason methods, which we will discuss below.

Homeschooling Methods Explained

Unschooling

Unschooling is a very different method when compared to others. Instead of being teacher-led, unschooling is largely child-led. It is also primarily informal. Specifically, the child advocates for what will be learned as opposed to the parent having full control.

It’s important to note that although homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, unschooling may not be. Some states have specific requirements for the subjects taught, attendance, records, and other things. Unschooling is a complete contrast to public school and may not meet these state-imposed requirements. You can learn more about your state’s requirements on HSLDA’s website.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the twentieth century. She used a tri-method approach to learning. Her method is similar to Classical homeschooling which also uses three phases of education.

Atmosphere

The first is the Atmosphere. This is the idea that children are to observe and evaluate the world around them but particularly in the home environment. In other words, children are watching our actions, our own behaviors, rules, and even the mood we set in the home environment. In our family, we try to model constant learning and look for opportunities to explain and teach. We encourage questions and try to maintain a peaceful, gentle atmosphere.

Discipline

This is primarily the traits of good character. Modeling, instilling and cultivating good habits and enforcing a code of conduct, largely play into this area of teaching.

Life

This last area pertains to academics. Charlotte Mason believed that children learn best in a living environment and not with the dry rigors of textbooks. Therefore, children learn out of what is referred to as “living books.” Most living books are a narrative or in a story form that makes the subject come alive in real-world examples. Children are then to explain and narrate the lesson to ensure comprehension. In other words, if children can explain it to someone else, they have learned it themselves. This is the only form of testing progress in the Charlotte Mason method. In fact, Charlotte Mason could be described as a very gentle method of learning.

In addition, children learn handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure by transcribing passages from classic literature. Children are also encouraged to spend a great deal of time outdoors absorbing nature, biology, and the work of God’s hand. Charlotte Mason is also primarily Christian-based learning. Lastly, children learn about classical composers, fine art, all the while learning deeply about their great works. Children may be educated in foreign languages like Greek, Latin, Spanish and French. As well as rooted in Math with an emphasis on Algebra.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Classical

Classical education is based on the ancient model of learning. When you consider some of the greatest minds of the past, you’ll discover they were classically educated. Below, I’ll explain the three stages of classical education, known as the trivium.

If you would like to learn more about Classical Education, I encourage you to read the book, Teaching the Trivium and The Well Trained Mind. I’ve included Amazon links where you can purchase it. You can read more about these books in my post Four Books You Need to Read Before Homeschooling.

The Grammar Stage: Kindergarten Through Fourth Grade

There is a rigorous emphasis on spelling, grammar, reading, and writing. As well as cultivating a joy of numbers with both procedural and conceptual math. Also, the beginning framework of foreign languages are taught, typically Latin, Greek or both. In addition, there is a study of fine art, classical composition, and music theory. Children will be introduced to Geography and a comprehensive study into History, which is the telling of all human achievement until now.

In history, The Ancients (5000 BC-AD 400) are taught in grades 1, 5 and 9. Medieval (400-1600) time period is taught in grades 2, 6, and 10. Late Renaissance to the Romantic era (1600-1850) in grades 3, 7, and 11. Lastly, the modern era (1850-present) in grades 4, 8, and 12.

I will give you an example of the effectiveness of classical education. My own four-year-old already has fundamental knowledge about Queen Nefertiti, Ramses II, and The Great Sphinx. He is learning about Ancient Civilizations and Native Americans. He can describe the anatomy of the human ear and identify the different systems of the body (circulatory, skeletal, muscular, etc) and their purpose. Also, he can name the different celestial bodies and even knows musical terms like accelerando, fortissimo, crescendo, and pianissimo.

The Logic Stage: Fifth Grade Through Eighth Grade

The Logic stage, in short, is reasoning or critical thinking. In this stage, children will begin to examine and analyze the arguments of others and themselves. Students will analyze facts and arguments to deduce why something is true or false.

The Rhetoric Stage: Ninth Grade Through Twelfth Grade

Classical rhetoric is a combination of expressive persuasion and argument (debate). The rhetoric stage is built upon the greatest ancient philosophers and writers such as Cicero, Aristotle, Quintilian, Socrates, and Plato. Simply put, it is expressing the knowledge obtained during the grammar and logic stages and composing effective writing and speaking through academic papers and speech. In other words, students learn to articulate their own answers to important questions.

Traditional

Traditional homeschooling resembles a similar structure to public schooling. You use a textbook curriculum. Children may use workbooks. You may even mimic a similar environment, with individual desks and a chalkboard. Normally, schedules are rigid with classes at specific times. Also, you may have tests and evaluations to determine your child’s progress. Traditional homeschoolers may even compare their progress or align themselves with public schools.

For traditional homeschooling, I greatly encourage you to read Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This amazing book goes through the abundance of curriculum choices and gives unbiased reviews. Lastly, it helps you determine which curriculum is best suited to your child’s learning style.

Eclectic

Eclectic is basically just any combination of the aforementioned methods. Technically, I was an eclectic homeschooler because I was a mix of both classical and traditional homeschooling, although classical education was emphasized.

Some parents find their children do better with the strengths of the different methods. There is no one right way to homeschool. Each method has its benefits. As a homeschooler, you have immense flexibility and you are not in any way pigeonholed to one method. Yes, you can take what you like from the various methods and make it your own.

Additionally, some parents start off as eclectic homeschoolers, choosing to try out multiple methods before deciding on their way to educate. That’s perfectly okay too! It is also important to note that any of these methods can be religious or secular in nature.

Pin for Later

Hopefully, I have thoroughly explained the different methods of homeschooling. I am immensely grateful for my classical education. I encourage you to read the resources I’ve mentioned. Don’t forget to PIN this post so you may refer to it later.

4 Books You Need to Read Before You Homeschool

If you are considering homeschooling, you maybe wondering where to start and how to choose curriculum. Well, I have some resources to help with that. Here are 4 books you need to read before you homeschool.

4 books you need to read before you homeschool

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

So you’ve decided to homeschool or perhaps you are still seriously considering it. Maybe you are looking for some direction. I’m a proud second-generation homeschooler, but even I, having been through the homeschooling process, don’t have all the answers. Even I wondered where and how to begin.

I was grateful when several veteran homeschools recommended the following books to read before I jumped head first into educating my child. If you aren’t a teacher by trade, you may find yourself wondering if you are “qualified” to teach your child and if they will receive a similar education to that of public school. I tackle some of those questions in two of my other posts Debunking Myths About Homeschooling and Why We Homeschool.

These books are great for the new parent who is homeschooling. I consider them almost like a crash course in an education degree. If you don’t know what to teach your child, when, and how, these books will answer lots of questions. Here are 4 books you need to read before you homeschool.

The Well-Trained Mind

The Well-Trained Mind, has become an essential guide for homeschooling. One half of the authors is herself both a university professor and a product of homeschooling. Her co-author, her mother, was a school teacher. Together, they walk you through the fundamentals of classical education, based on the ancient model of learning. Even if you aren’t doing Classical homeschooling, I highly recommend the book for laying foundational framework in your homeschooling journey.

They offer a blueprint of learning, which includes a resource list of educational curriculum and sample routines. Even if you aren’t planning to teach in a Classical style I still think this book is an amazing resource because of it’s explanation of developmental stages and the progression of learning throughout the school years.

The Well Trained Mind is a comprehensive resource for both secular and Christian homeschoolers.

Duffy’s Top 100 Homeschool Picks

One of the first questions beginner homeschooling parents ask is how to select curriculum. There are so many choices out there all claiming to be comprehensive and complete. Even being the product of homeschooling myself, I wondered, just how do you know which curriculum is “the best.”

One of the best, most well-loved guides is Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. This is an amazing resource. I’d say the greatest benefit to homeschooling is not having a “one size fits all” approach to learning like public school. You can tailor the curriculum to fit your child’s learning style. This book is a manual for doing just that. Duffy’s Homeschool Picks gives in-depth review of well-known curriculum and provides a method for determining if it is right for your child. This has been one of the most invaluable homeschooling resources I’ve found.

Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning For Purpose and Peace

One of the most common questions I hear from new homeschool parents is “How do I plan my homeschool year?” It’s a common question and also a common complaint. When you first start homeschooling, it can be overwhelming. It can be hard to determine how much information can be digested in a year. Perhaps you worry if you are covering all the subjects your child needs or maybe you struggle with follow through.

Pam Barnhill has written a great book that helps with all those problems. She gives real solutions for the busy parent and offers a way to plan a structured, yet flexible homeschool schedule that works with your own personality and style. This book is great for beginner and seasoned homeschoolers alike. I also think it works for just about every homeschool style (Unschooling, Eclectic, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Traditional, etc).

Teaching the Trivium

I was actually going to include this as one of the top three books. The only reason why I didn’t include it is because of the strong Christian theme. I am a Christian homeschooler, but over the last few years, secular homeschoolers are rapidly growing in the homeschooling community. So because this book so so heavily steeped in Christian influences and the fact that it is specifically geared towards Classical homeschooling, it may not be for you, but I still think it provides invaluable information.

Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn have long been considered experts in the classical homeschooling niche. Here they easily explain the trivium (the three distinct phases of childhood learning). Using biblical principles as a blueprint and basis for teaching, they combine that with the ancient teaching of Greek scholars, which make up Classical education.

There you have it 4 books you need to read before you homeschool. Homeschooling is a journey for both you and your child. You won’t have all the answers when you start. In fact, the answers may change throughout your journey – that’s okay. That’s actually the beauty of homeschooling – the incredible flexibility! Good luck to you and your kids. It’s gonna be an adventure!

100 Life Skills To Teach Your Child

Your child doesn’t have to be unprepared for life. Equip them for adulthood. Here are 100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child.

100 life skills to teach your child

Many people are surprised when I tell them I went to live on my own in Europe at the age of seventeen. I don’t think there was anything particularly special about me. I just think my parents prepared me well for adulthood. At that age, I was well equipped to book a plane ticket and navigate a foreign airport. I made my way across another continent using bus and train schedules in multiple foreign languages – completely on my own. I’m not bragging – at least not about me. If any credit is due, it goes to my parents. Not only did they homeschool me, but they managed to teach me how to not need them.

My parents have never bought me a car. I’ve never borrowed money from them. I paid for college, my wedding and house without their help. If you’ve done a good job as a parent, your children won’t need a lot from you as adults.

Good parenting is working yourself out of a job

This isn’t a lecture for parents. It’s a reminder. It’s so much easier sometimes to just do things ourselves to get it done faster, but we do our “babies” a disservice. They lose out on life lessons. Today, I’m sharing 100 life skills to teach your children.

Include Them

As I wrote the list, I tried to think of all the things my parents taught me. I am one of three children, but I am the only girl. Our gender did not matter when it came to teaching life skills. My brothers were taught homemaking skills like cooking, ironing clothes, and how to properly clean. As a girl, I was taught how to change a tire, start a campfire, and basic survival skills. We all learned the same life skills.

The simplest way to to teach these skills is summed up in one word: inclusion. My mom loved to repaint rooms every so often. It was the cheapest way for her to redecorate. But one thing I remember is her including us. Instead of sitting us in front of a television to get us out of her way, she handed us a paint brush. She taught us how to open and store the paint and how to stir it. How to mask the trim and paint around corners. She taught us how to properly load the brush and rollers with paint. She’d show us how paint without streaks or splattering. I was able to fix up my first apartment thanks to the skills she showed me. “Everyone has four walls to work with. It’s what you do with them,” she used to say.

As a parent myself, I know tempting it is to brush the kids out of your way so you can get things done. But the best way to teach your children is by simply including them in your everyday activities. Paying for a check at a restaurant? Make them calculate a tip. Washing your car? Give them a sponge and put them to work. At the doctors office? Make your teen fill out their own forms.

Age Appropriateness

The list I provide, is for all age groups. Obviously there are things on the list that should be taught at an older age because of the dangers associated with them – like using a knife or learning to safely make a campfire. However, don’t underestimate introducing things at an early age. Introducing simply starts by talking and teaching your child why we do something a certain way.

Introducing also includes knowing they won’t likely master something until an older age. For example, when my son turned three, I started to include him on cleaning. I let him dry plastic dishes I’ve washed. I make him take his folded clothes upstairs to his room and make him scrub the toilet (I apply the chemicals and he swirls it around). Now four, he has chores every week. I know these things won’t be done perfectly. In fact, they may even create more work for me right now, but this instruction is about creating a habit in your child. It’s also about giving them responsibility, purpose, and sense of accomplishment. Young children especially love to help – so let them!

As a kid, when we went camping, my dad would first give us small unimportant tasks like bringing him the tent poles or gathering wood or kindling. As we grew older, so did our responsibility until finally we were capable of doing it entirely by ourselves.

100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child

  1. How to sew a button
  2. How to hem pants
  3. How to thread a needle
  4. How to use a sewing machine
  5. How to wash clothes
  6. How to bake a chicken
  7. How to cut up a whole chicken
  8. How to mow the grass
  9. How to file taxes
  10. How to balance a checkbook
  11. How to fill out a medical form
  12. How to buy a car
  13. How to bake a turkey
  14. How to stain a fence or deck
  15. How to wash a car
  16. How to change a tire
  17. How to check car fluids
  18. How to change a brake light
  19. How to get a state inspection sticker
  20. How to change a car windshield wiper blades
  21. How to repair a leaky faucet
  22. How to fix a running toilet
  23. How to organize a pantry
  24. How to crochet
  25. How to knit
  26. How to bake a cake from scatch
  27.  How to clean a toilet
  28.  How to descale a shower and shower head
  29. How to vacuum
  30. How to make a candle
  31. How to make soap
  32. How to start a fireplace fire
  33. How to build a campfire
  34. How to set up a tent
  35. How to fish
  36. How to swim
  37. How to change a baby’s diaper
  38. How to feed a baby
  39. How to bake bread
  40. How to use a fire extinguisher
  41. How to mail a letter
  42. How to play an instrument
  43. How to frame and hang a picture
  44. How to use a compass
  45. Basic etiquette
  46. How to use a drill
  47. How to clean a grill
  48. How to bake cookies
  49. How to preform the Heimlich maneuver
  50. How to perform CPR
  51. How to fold clothes
  52. How to iron clothes
  53. How to vacuum a swimming pool
  54. How to trim trees
  55. How to pull weeds
  56. How to mulch a flower bed
  57. How to paint a room
  58. How to save money
  59. How to calculate a sale price
  60. How to raise chickens
  61. How to navigate an airport
  62. Emergency preparedness
  63. How to mop a floor
  64. How to can food
  65. How to unclog a sink or toilet
  66. How to use a stand mixer
  67. How to chop vegetables / food
  68. How to check if food is ripe
  69. Basic first aid (dress a wound, apply pressure)
  70. How to read a map
  71. How to read a nutrition label
  72. How to pump gas
  73. How to write a resume
  74. How to apply for a job
  75. Critical thinking / logic
  76. How to set a budget
  77. How to BBQ food
  78. How to make basic meals
  79. How to check your credit score
  80. How to invest money
  81. How to calculate a tip
  82. How to write a thank you letter
  83. How to vote
  84. Basic politics and civics
  85. How to win and lose graciously
  86. How to apologize and ask for forgiveness
  87. How to set up electronics
  88. How to shampoo carpet
  89. How to use a camera (not a camera phone)
  90. Basic woodworking
  91. How to get to common places in your neighborhood
  92. How to polish furniture
  93. How to get a loan
  94. How to fix your credit
  95. How to filter water (survival skill)
  96. How to build a shelter
  97. How to meal plan
  98. How to shave properly
  99. How to pray
  100. How to carry on family traditions

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, 100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child. Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to pin this post for later and subscribe to get FREE printables every month!

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