One thing that’s really been working is our routine, which I shared here. The morning time basket –> table time –> project time thing has been great. My kids know what each thing means, what’s expected of them, and whats coming next. It takes us about 1.5 – 2 hours to work through our mornings, and its working so well I have no intention of changing anything. I love it.
Another thing that’s working is using lots of books and games. I love using books anyways, so I’m glad its going over well with my kiddos too. Games have also been a hit. We have a few that we cycle through (and many more on my wishlist), and they’ve been fun for all of us. I’m finding they’re great for sneaking in some extra learning or filling in small time gaps. I have a feeling we’ll be relying on games a lot this winter when we get out less too.
The biggest thing I’ve changed is that I started to incorporate a unit study approach. We began the year by doing a dinosaur unit study to ease our way into the routine of homeschool, and it was so much fun. I loved the focused learning that happened and how we immersed ourselves in dinosaurs for a few weeks, and I missed it when we were done. So I’m adding this approach back in. Now all of our morning time reads and our projects are inspired by our unit theme. I’m alternating between literature based units and theme-based units I’m building myself.
A few weeks ago we did our first literature unit using the book Goodnight Gorilla (which we all LOVED) and the activity guide I found on Simply Learning Kids. It was so fun to familiarize ourselves with the story by reading it every day, and I specifically choose activities that I could easily modify for both kids so that Wyatt could be more involved in our routine. This week we’re working on our second week of our rock unit study. We began last week by going to a rock trade show- where we saw all kinds of rocks (even meteorites!), have been reading all the books on rocks I could get from the library, and doing a few rock-related activities.
I’m super excited about planning more unit studies. I think they allow us to be child-directed (because we’re learning about things Porter is interested in) and more academic at the same time. They’re also just plain delightful and so much fun to do together. All of our units are literature based, so there’s lots of books too. Some upcoming units I want to do include: a pizza unit (learning about food, nutrition, reading pizza books, doing basic fractions, and ending with a pizza party), a volcano unit, an art unit (where we basically read all the art book and do all the art projects all week long), and a Beatrix Potter unit.
Another change I’ve made is adding a Language Arts curriculum to our table time. I talked a little here about my interest in The Good and the Beautiful curricula. This month they released a new level, I thought it would be perfect for Porter, so I bought it. We’ve only been using it two weeks, and so have only gone through about 4 lessons, but the jury’s still out on this one. We’ve had just as many days on the verge of tears as we’ve had good ones. I like it a lot, but I’m not sure the workbook approach is sitting well with Porter. I’ll give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.
Another thing I’m in the process of changing is our Nature Study. I recently read How To Raise a Wild Child and its not only solidified the importance of doing a nature study in my mind, but is making me re-thing how we’re doing this. I’m not too sure how this will work out because I’m just now beginning to implement it and I’m not sure how it will change once things get cold this winter, but the short of it is I’m making it a priority for us to get outside and explore more often.