Homeschool Organization | Relaxed Homeschooling

Boy howdy, it’s been a while since I’ve posted over here. As I was making a video for my YouTube channel though, I felt it was about time to dust off this blog and get it going. There are a tone of resources I mentioned in my video today, so I thought I would plant it here and share some links with you.

Basically today I’m talking about organization. I LOVE unschooling and the style of truly getting the most out of the things my kids enjoy, but I was finding it was really wearing me down. I was constantly on alert and in planning and prepping mode. Everything felt intense, and I found myself burning out fairly often. I realized something had to change.

As I looked around from curriculum to curriculum, I felt most were so intense and structured that I would struggle with finding the freedom to still follow my kid’s leads. I also realized that I needed something that was so simple and ready-to-go that I wasn’t in constant prep mode. Ideally it would just have the very basics and those would be grab-and-go, that way if I fell behind with planning, the thought of figuring out what we needed to do each day wouldn’t be overwhelming. Yet, it needed to be simple enough that we could easily grow and expand and follow our learning wherever it went.

This is the system I came up with, and so far it’s been working really well. ūüôā

 

Here are some of the resources I talked about in the video. Feel free to let me know if I left anything out. (None of these are affiliate links.)

Evan-Moor Daily Phonics:¬†http://www.evan-moor.com/p/18756/Dail…
Evan-Moor Daily Geography:¬†http://www.evan-moor.com/p/824/Daily-…
I love Evan-Moor daily workbooks. They have turned out to work really well for our family on many occasions. I also like their theme pockets books and generally find these to be great resources.

Math Lessons for a Living Education:¬†http://www.rainbowresource.com/produc…
I did a full review on this math curriculum. You can check it out here.

Betty Lukins Felts:¬†http://www.bettylukens.com/collection…
I cannot say enough good things about this felt set. I had to save my pennies for a long time for this purchase, but it was TOTALLY worth it! My kids love it. Especially my three-year old. We share our story for the week and then I leave those felts out for him to play with. Sometimes he asks for a few more to add to his collection (he always wants to have Jesus), and he has loads of fun making up and retelling many stories.  I did a full review on this felt set here. (They have recently released a few more overlays too!)

Church Quarterly: http://www.gracelink.net
I’m going to be honest. I’m not really crazy about our Church’s quarterly. I am was really struggling with finding a Bible curriculum I liked in general. I even thought of making one going through the Bible chronologically with customs and hands on projects and all sorts of things, but then I realized how much time that would take, and I just can’t do it right now. (Maybe in the future though. I still think it would be awesome to make).

I finally decided that since we go to church every week my boys would really appreciate having connected with the story all week, so I went with it. I’m doing a TON of adapting, and mostly just using the same main Bible passage, and going from there. Some weeks we are doing the same memory verse, other weeks we are doing a different one, but we are always digging deeper. ūüôā

Amanda Bennet China Study:¬†http://unitstudy.com/specials/expedit…
Amanda Bennet has all kinds of great unit studies. They are very much based on a Charlotte Mason methodology, and are intended to be completed independently. There are so many things I don’t use in these unit studies, but they are a HUGE time saver when it comes to recreating my own. If nothing else, they give me a great framework, and that goes a LONG way!

Missionary Stories and Resources:¬†http://www.ywampublishing.com/c-71-he…
The main resources I’m referring to here are the Heroes for Young Readers series from YWAM publishing. Can I just say LOVE?!?! I don’t think I’ve ever found a resource I’ve been so excited about. My boys absolutely love them too. The stories are so well written and engaging, and the CDs take things the extra mile. I did a few review here.

We also use the Little Lights missionary stories whenever there is one that corresponds (which is often). These books are more appealing to Timothy (3) because they are shorter. They also help him understand what’s going on better. Here is the link to my review on these.

Magic School Bus Secrets of Space Kit:http://www.theyoungscientistsclub.com…
Samuel LOVES these kits! I LOVE these kits. They are so fantastic because pretty much everything you need is already included in the kit. You don’t have to run out and buy new materials. The experiments are perfect for a six year old, and I love how they encourage the scientific process. Each activity encourages the child to make a hypothesis. AND, these are great even if your child has never seen the Magic school bus and has no clue what it is. If on the other hand your child loves the magic school bus, there is always at least one episode you can watch along with the kit.

Beautiful Feet Early American Literature Unit:¬†http://bfbooks.com/Early-American-His…
I¬†have looked at this program before. I don’t remember when or why I didn’t go with it at the time, but for now, it’s perfect. I am also very interested in their science literature pack as I have a little scientist in my home. Who knows, I may use even more of their programs over the years. I guess we will find out. In the meantime I’m just excited to get this in the mail and give it a go!

How about you? How do you keep your homeschool organized? Do you like more structure or do you prefer to go with the flow? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Miquon Math | A First Glance

MIQUON MathFirst Reaction

My son loves math. He loves to figure things out and is always doing mathematical analysis. He doesn’t even realize it. Oh yeah, he’s five. He isn’t doing algebra, but I’m shocked when I realize he is using skills like multiplication in everyday life. However, hand him a math worksheet – blank stare. You can see a weight just plop on his shoulders.

I have been looking for a math program to help him continue to develop his love for numbers without crushing his enthusiasm. I found a program a few years back called Math on the Level. It shows ways to incorporate math into everyday life. This appeals to me greatly because I truly feel like math is a tool to help us understand the world around us. While overall, I am so excited about this program and I do hope to save up and implement it at some point, it just didn’t seem right for now, and I need to really have time to save up for such a large purchase.

Then, I found Miquon Math Labs. Here is a little video that shares more about it far better than I could:

I feel like this program is really perfect for where we are at. And the price fits our budget nicely. ūüôā Needless to say, I ordered book one. Here is a peek inside and my first reactions when I finally got the books in hand:


When I first received the package, I felt a bit overwhelmed at where to start and what to do. I e-mailed support at Rainbow Resource (where I purchased the program) and they recommended I start with the Annotations guide Рsimply read through the first section on counting to get a feel for how everything works.  Super great suggestion.

I love how there are so many ways to use the Lab sheets and that between all of the guides there are games, every-day applications, and so many ideas for ways to be using math with children.

Samuel has had a lot of fun just playing with the Cuisinaire Rods. And I feel like this math will be so fun for him. We aren’t into it very far, but I feel like it’s only part of the math puzzle for him. It’s a very important piece, but it dawned on me that he either likes to learn 100% on his own, with his own ideas and experimentation or he likes to learn through stories. If I can find a way to bridge the gap and add stories to math while he plays and explores- this kid will be in heaven. I have a few ideas, so stay tuned, and I’m eager to share what we end up doing. ūüôā

Why I Ditched Math | Gentle Math Strategies for Young Learners

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I recently shared about the gentle reading strategies we use in our homeschool, but I have been researching and studying about math learning as well.  Over the past few years I have been captivated with the idea of children learning through play. As I have watched all the things a child picks up with no formal instruction, only an enriching environment, I have been amazed.

What started me on this line of thinking in mathematics was an article from Psychology Today arguing that we should stop teaching math to our youngest learners.  This concept seemed crazy to me, but the more I read about the experiment in which teachers replaced formal math instruction with open discussion and communication, the more I was captivated.  In the long run, these students did at least as well in mathematics, usually better than children who had formal training during those early years.

When we think about math we think of number sentences and drills, but for a young child, this is totally abstracted from the idea of figuring out how they need to divide the stones they found so that everyone has an equal amount. The numbers on the page are simply symbols they need to manipulate, and it’s difficult to make the correlation to real-world problems. ¬†In this way, math loses it’s meaning.

Legislators and educators have tried to combat this by creating the “new math” we see in the common core. While I applaud the goals here, I still think that working solely with numbers, especially for young children, only causes confusion and frustration. ¬†Not only that, but it fails to give children¬†the opportunity to figure it out on their own. By observing and making mathematical connections that aren’t fed to them, children develop a mathematical base that can’t be developed any other way. ¬†It’s kind of like explaining to a nine-month-old how to walk. ¬†Babies don’t have the language understanding¬†to comprehend¬†the complexities of walking. Even if they did, trying to grasp the idea of muscle movement and joint manipulation would simply cause frustration¬†and make walking seem intimidating and impossible. It’s only by experimenting with standing and taking steps, falling and trying again that a baby learns to walk. ¬†Over time, they can learn how to better strengthen their muscles and maybe even become a marathon runner. The same is true for math education.

So, what are we to do? I am a big proponent of play-based learning (much more on that later as I have a stack of books on the topic I’m currently working my way through). I believe it applies to math as well. Rather than loading our children with worksheets and drills, it’s best to focus on conversation and reasoining. Let me know if you are interested, and I’m happy to share with you lots activities and ways to provide a mathematically engaging environment for your child through play – mostly open-ended, natural play.

This is a little video of how I am “doing” math with my five-year-old. ¬†He loves finding ways to use math and gets excited about solving problems. ¬†We haven’t done any number drills, but I’m often shocked to see how well he solves real world problems (even algebraic ones). I frequently¬†ask him to tell me how he reached his conclusion, and he is able to articulate it to me. ¬†Keep in mind, I love my child and while every mother believes their child is a genius, based on my observations of children between the ages of 5-8, I really don’t think he has any special math abilities. When I have put a traditional math worksheet in front of him, his reaction is much the same as students that would be classified as struggling with math.

How about your kids? How do you notice them using math every day? What are some of your favorite games or activities that involve math? I would love to hear about it!

For more information on delayed mathematics, check out this article series by Denise Gaskins. (Her whole website is actually really neat, and I look forward to exploring it more as I JUST found it while researching for this blog post.)