Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm a Type-A Homeschool Mama to an Only Child Preschooler

OK. I can admit it now. I'm a closet type-A personality.  I don't want to be, but it just so happens that I am and I can't help it.  For better or worse, I'm a type-A stay-at-home homeschool Mama to an only child.  

Uh-huh... I can see you already judging me!

I'm not going to brag that my son knows it all - because he doesn't and he isn't the know-it-all type.  In fact, he hardly answers questions in a classroom setting with other kids.  He prefers to talk to friends, play and crack jokes instead.  

I'm not going to allow you to tell me that I push him too much academically - because in reality, my son has always been one step ahead of me in his learning process.  I have always tried to keep up and I have spent countless hours searching for curriculum that might challenge him and that he might enjoy.  

I'm not going to complain about what a chore being a homeschool Mama is either, because I love what I do.  I may not have a lot of time for myself, but homeschooling my son has turned into a passion for me.  It's become our family culture and we love it.

What I'm going to do instead is tell you exactly what our homeschool has been like these past few years.

The Past Few Years

Our 'Winter' Box: full of images with Xmas and winter themes

Our Colour Containers: each box with single colour items

Our Texture Stepping Centre

Our Word Books

Our 1 year old: walking on stars for 4th of July!

When he was about a year old, I made homemade toys and books (above) for my son.  He would also want me to read to him for hours each day.  We used to go through at least 60 books every week.  We finally got 3 library cards that allowed us to borrow 90 books at a time.  We also made friends with our public library's Children's Room librarians and they sent us a bin or two of books my son just loved and devoured every few days.  He never wanted to read a book more than once.  I used to ask the librarians if this was normal and they would only say that "Every child is different!"  

Our 2 year old on a trip to The Met, NYC

By 2 years old, I decided to look for other book related activities we could do together and found What Your Preschooler Needs To Know and its accompanying Pre-School Activity Books 1 and 2.  He enjoyed them so much, we completed them in a year.  

Our 3 year old had a blast with our Star Wars Curriculum

By 3 years old, he was learning to read easy words, like CAT, BAT and the names of Star Wars characters.  Singapore Math Kindergarten book A  was also fun and easy for him.  

 Our 4 years old wanted a GOLD violin.  
Since the gold one was actually the cheapest one I found, he got it!

When he was 4 years old, I gave my son the K12 Reading Comprehension Placement Exams for Kindergarten through to grade 3.  I left the room to see how much he could do on his own.  I was really surprised that he completed them all by himself and shocked that he easily passed them all.  I knew I wanted to and needed to start challenging him more on his academic level.

Our 5 year old's project on our body's elimination process

My son is now 5.  He is a very asynchronous learner: his handwriting and writing skills are typical for a boy his age, but his academic ability places him in 1st grade maths, 2nd grade spelling and 5th grade reading comprehension.  Sometimes I forget how old he is and treat him like an adult, but I have to remind myself that emotionally he's only 5.

Don't get me wrong, reading, writing and arithmetic are not the only things we do.  We travel as a family to visit friends and extended family, we enjoy lots of time outdoors, we emphasize sports and exercise and we are all sane because of lots of play at home, playdates with friends and  The Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (where I can find a community of other parents who are in a similar boat). 

Our son, the indoor rower.
Playing outdoors with friends
Creating The Giving Tree for Earth Day with friends
What We Do Everyday

We started homeschooling more seriously when our son turned 5.  We do some kind of homeschool everyday - no fail, because we find he does best when there is a set routine everyday (he knows what to expect) and because we want to instill in our son discipline and work ethic.  

We start our day with lots of cuddles and playtime first thing in the morning (usually 1 hour!) and continue to breakfast, where a lot of school work happens.  Homeschool can last anywhere between 1 to 4 hours.  School for us includes:

- 2 - 3 times a week of history, science, art and crafts, lessons outside the home, poetry memorization

Dressing up like Stone Age Men
My son's submission for Palmetto Pride's Art Competition
- 5 - 6 days a week of math, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, geography, foreign languages, musical instrument practice, exercise, world religion (or character development)

Copywork "Bald Eagle"
Keyboard practice

- 7 days a week of independent homework (we use the workbox system, photo below).

During his independent time in the afternoon, our son completes all 6 bins of 'homework'.
It takes him about 10-15 minutes.
It sounds like a lot, but it is really quite simple.  Quick subjects, like math or copywork for us, take 5 minutes, while more time consuming (and fun) subjects, like reading or arts and crafts, take 30 minutes or more.  A mix of these (short and serious/long and fun) make daily homeschool both enjoyable and very doable.

'Sharing Worthwhile Kindergarten5 Asynchronous Curriculum for a Visual Learner' soon!