I have made a decision. I am about 97% sure I will be homeschooling my tots. I have come to this decision after doing a good amount of research on the process of homeschool, the outcomes, the how and the whys. I am by no means done with my research, nor will I ever be, but at this point, this is the path we are going to take. (Before I get attacked by anti-homeschool folks, please know we are keeping our options open and still applying to the local schools just as we would if homeschool was not a possibility.)
I am also not an ignorant parent. I do know that this path is not for everyone. Lucky for us, I have found this option early on and I am willing to do it by choice, not necessity. Big Sis DIVA is not even allowed to enter kindergarten until 2014 based on her birthdate. So, we have the next 2 whole years to practice homeschool on a preschool level. I mean really, if we can master a good working environment for learning at the preschool level, we can master anything. So we have merged our lives into this plan.
The last few months I have been testing the waters. We have set up a solid routine for "momma school" as it has been rendered by Big Sis DIVA. I spend a little time each week preparing a "lesson plan". This is not a rigorous outline that rules our day by any means. My kid is 3. Play still centers our world, but this is more of a nice list of activities and ideas that I can reference to keep us structured. It acts as a guide to keep me on track and to help when I need a little something to entertain a tot a quick notice. I have a box prepared each week that coordinates to this lesson plan. Inside the box I place all the supplies needed for the exercises and activities on that weeks lesson plan. This can be worksheets, art supplies, printouts of songs and games, etc. At any point during the week we can hit the box and our supplies for any given fun learning are there at our fingertips.
I am slowly implementing a strict time routine. I want there to always be free thinking and learning, but I also believe that there is a designated play time and a work time. Granted, at this young age of 3 our "play"time is far greater than work time, we still are going to adhere to a schedule. Schedules work well for us in other areas and by having a schedule those around us who do not homeschool can understand our time restraints with ease. We have 3 hours a day that are specific for school. Currently, from 9am to noon. We don't have lessons this whole time, but we are engaging in learning with each other during this time. No cell phones, no TV, no Internet unless it is for a lesson. These 3 hours are for momma and tot uninterrupted learning and playing time.
4 days a week we have guided mommy school. At 9am the TV is shut off until after dinner and we start our lessons. Some days find us outside doing backyard science, some days find us in the playroom being architects with Lego's, and some days we have actual worksheet lessons and some other days find us on field trips to playdates for social skills or other places we visit to see and learn in our community. It varies from day to day, lesson to lesson, as I seek out what works best for us. But we do stay on track and from 9am to noon each day we are learning and engaging in something with each other.
Although the day to day activity can vary, we do have our "Daily's" that stay constant. We also have a theme each week which helps solidify the conglomerate of learning we have each week. Our "daily's" open each day with a check of the weather outside that we report on a weather chart in our classroom. We discuss what day of the week, the month, the date, the season, the year it is. We also go over our first and last name for phonics and spelling, and our address and phone number. And we do a letter of the week now, so we work on words that start with this letter or draw the letter on the chalkboard. I also have started doing a concept each week for life skills. Such as table manners or bathroom hygiene. Simple things we already know but I just emphasize them and expand on them as needed. And we also work on a academic concept throughout the whole week. Such as left versus right, or spacial understanding. The latter two are used throughout the whole week and whole day, not in structured learning but rather as they came about in the daily happenings.
I found in my research that the state of Texas has no real regulations for homeschool (I do plan on keeping substantial records and have been looking at ways to do this), but they do require studies in 5 areas. I'm working on structuring our preschool to coincide with this structure, so that transition to school age learning flows right in. Right now, we work on science/math, reading/language, arts/crafts, life skills, and outdoor play. Some days we hit all 5 areas, some times we work on only one area all week. Over time we will gradually switch to areas that are more similar to what the state requires.
So that is what has been going on here in my world in regards to school and education. I welcome any input or thoughts or resources you might have. I am learning and new to this and would like to gain all the knowledge and know how I can, so that I may provide my children with the best I can give them.