A Long Overdue Homeschooling Update

It’s been awhile since I talked about where we are in our homeschooling efforts. My children and I have continued to work every day in spite of the move to a new house and the construction going on as we finish our basement. It’s been wild, actually!

To refresh your memory: I have a son who is 9 and a daughter who is 5 ¾ (she’ll be 6 in December). We decided to homeschool for practical reasons, including the less-than-stellar public schools in our area, the price of Montessori or private education, and the fact that I’m a Montessori teacher.

As time has gone on, my reasons have changed to more philosophical ones, including the stifling nature of traditional education and the freedom that homeschooling gives children to pursue their own interests at their own pace.

Since we put our house up for sale last spring, and were hoping to move by the fall, I continued working with them every day during the summer (with breaks for summer day camp and vacations). We did not work for as long each day as we do during the school year but enough that they didn’t experience the “summer slide”. I am glad we did this since they missed about 2 weeks of work during our move. I like that homeschooling is flexible in these sorts of situations.

Until we finish construction in our basement (most of which will be a large classroom/playroom), we are working in a corner of our new family room. Much of our materials are still packed, but each day we still manage to work for several hours. We also still take at least one field trip a week.

My son is a voracious reader and has been enjoying the If You… series books quite a bit. He reads at least one a week and gives me an oral book report afterwards. He also has begun the Classical Physics posters and experiments, the Geography Charts and experiments and the Botany Charts.

In math he is transitioning from 4-digit dynamic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with the concrete materials (bead frame, stamp game) to doing them on paper. He has also been doing the Advanced Math materials.

My daughter is currently working her way through the Pink Series work. We have started Pink Series spelling tests, which she has done quite well on, and do a lot of work with the movable alphabet (spelling words and writing short stories). We read together every day (me to her and her to me) and she has worked her way through several different sets of beginning readers (I like to use a few so that there’s some variety and lots of words are covered).

We haven’t done much math lately, as our math materials are packed in a box in our garage, but before we moved she was working her way through both the multiplication tables (with the multiplication bead board) and the addition tables (with the addition strip board). We have also done greater than/less than, ordinal numbers, place value, and time and money work.

My daughter enjoys watching my son perform Geography experiments (after he sets them up) and I like the fact that she gets to see them now and will be doing them herself in a few years. That kind of repetition/younger-learning-from-older is a hallmark of both Montessori and homeschooling.

Once our basement classroom is set up, I am eager to resume our continent and map studies as well as beginning Botany and Zoology for her and advanced Botany and Zoology for him. My son has also started working his way through the Fundamental Needs Cards Sets and is enjoying them immensely.

After years of swimming lessons for both children, their interests have parted ways and she is taking ballet while he focuses on tennis. They had both been taking piano lessons before we moved and since I haven’t found a teacher in our area yet, I have been working with both of them to continue piano (don’t worry, I do play myself!) It’s been working surprisingly well so far so we may continue this path for now. We include piano practice as part of our worktime so that they do it every day.

One thing I have learned during this experience is that it is possible to keep working even during life upheavals. Actually, I can firmly say that continuing our steady work schedule was really great for the kids during the stress of the move. It gave them a routine they could count on. And our work did not need to be elaborate during the first week or two in our new house – a little reading and piano every day made it feel like “school”.

I am interested to know about what kinds of things other homeschoolers are up to right now, and also if you have any experience with homeschooling during a transition (baby, job loss, move) that could be of help to others in a similar situation. Share away!