First full month of homeschooling is now behind us, alhamdulilah! As with most Septembers, I feel like we are starting off well. Kira normally enjoys learning (except Literature, LOL), so getting started with school isn’t something I have to drag her in to. Aamina has actually been more sporadic with how often she wants to do some school work, but she’s not quite four yet, so it’s not that big of a deal.
First, my shameless plug! I signed up to be an Usborne consultant in September, and I’m really excited to grow our home library, in sha Allah. I figured I have more time now than I anticipate I’ll have in the coming months/years, so might as well do it now and get some awesome books for my kids! Want to know more about it? Check out my website!
As we are starting Kira’s second year of high school, we started out with a learning plan to make all the expectations very clear. Last year seemed like many of the expectations were a surprise, and there was a high learning curve for the rigor I expected with her work. Going forward, I’ll take the lessons I learned, and apply them before we get to the high school years. Honestly, being pregnant and having a newborn every two years has been hard for me to try and keep up with high school work, too. It’s not impossible, but it is more hand holding than middle school was, at least in our home.
We’ve gone through a few lesson planners in the last couple years. Kira likes Lessontrek the most, but I know that I need something that is an all-in-one solution. I knew what I was looking for, even a few years ago, but wasn’t able to find it until recently. We are now using Homeschool Planet and I’m absolutely in love with it. I always feel like I’m on top of knowing what lessons are behind and what needs to be graded, and I can easily move things around if I need. I can look at what I have planned for all my kids, or just narrow it down to just one child. Plus, I set it up so Kira has her own login and she can update her grades (she grades her own math work). She doesn’t see her sister’s work, so she has a clean, trim calendar to work from.
Overall, Kira really likes her science class, and I’m under-impressed. She didn’t get her book until the 3rd or 4th week of class, and has very short homework assignments. I signed her up for an Honors class, so I expected a lot more rigor. Kira really likes it because it’s so much easier than a science class I would put together for her. Ha! Time and time again when I get updates about her class, I think to myself, “This is why she doesn’t go to public school.” Still, sending Kira to the local middle school for science was both for my own sanity (I need less papers to grade!), and to cut down on homeschool expenses. We are achieving those two things, so it’s meeting the goals we had. That’s something, right?
Phonics has been pretty up in the air for us so far. In my original plan, I wanted to use Jolly Phonics, but finances keep getting tighter (anyone else have a checking account that seems to bleed money? Ugh.), and Kira’s curriculum is always a higher priority. When looking at other available phonics programs, I remembered I have The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. Score! Then we tried it and Aamina was bored in two minutes flat. It’s just not her style.
Next stop? Bob Books. I didn’t realize how genius they were by using the pre-reader set, so we started with Collection 1. Aamina gets a little tired by the end of the book, but it’s fun to work with her and see her try. She’s still not all that interested in it, and the activity that goes with Jolly Phonics looks even more enticing, so I’m working Swagbucks to get enough Amazon gift cards to make it happen. In sha Allah soon!
We’re taking a more unschooling approach with Aamina right now (she’s not yet 4 years old, so I feel like it’s really only appropriate), so lapbooking has been very on and off. Plus, I’m only willing to do “school” with Aamina while Amatullah is sleeping. After all, I don’t feel pressure for her to learn certain things by a given date, so why force it into the day and create stress? I have great plans for busy bags, but we shall see how much time I have to make that happen!
Most weeks I have one Before Five in a Row lapbook scheduled, plus one letter lapbook. It’s been a really fun system to work through a Before Five in a Row book for a couple days in a week, and then a lapbook that corresponds in some way. Now that we’ve started focusing a bit on Bob Books, I’m trying to fit the lapbook letter to a letter the Bob Book is covering, too. I think lapbooks will be a staple in our littles’ homeschool for years to come.
We are still using Kiwi Crate in our homeschool for the more arts and crafts side of things, and Aamina loves it! I normally have to hide the box from her until we are ready to use it because she knows all the fun that’s inside. Kira still does most of the crafts with her, and it’s fun to see how much they enjoy being with each other when they have something to do. Now that Kiwi Crate has expanded their offerings to ages 3-16, I’ve even considered signing Kira up for her own box! We’ll see. I need to finish buying curriculum first, I suppose!
We love autumn in Minnesota, and it’s a great way to get the kids outdoors more often than I do in the end of summer! We went to an orchard to go apple picking, but ended up finding other things to pick, and to a farm setup with our park system so the kids could pick apples and then feed them to cows and chickens. How cool is that?!