February 2, 2021


Layla and I have embarked on an adventure together.

I get to homeschool this sweet, bright little one of mine.

She went to our neighborhood school for the first semester wearing a faceshield. Unfortunately, our school district changed their policy after Christmas and face shields were no longer an option.  This triggered some major anxiety in L. With bribes and encouragement and after experimenting with all sorts of masks, she did give it a try and made it to school for a day and a half. Ultimately, she decided, and I agreed, to give homeschooling a go.

We are just starting week two and a half of this adventure. I see it as a beautiful gift to have this time to teach Layla in our home. And it will not be easy. However, we are both up for the challenge. It just feels like the right thing to do right now. Not forever. But for right now.

Last week, we took a mid day hike together on Silly mountain while Brinna played at a friends house.
We took some of her school work with us to Kneaders and got lunch and worked on some assignments. And that's when I knew I loved homeschool.

Then we went home and I tried to sit down to help her with her next assignment, but I was tired and short-tempered and she was tired and unfocused.
That's when I knew that this wasn't going to be easy.

I know we can do it. It will take work, organization, and sacrifice, I also know that we will need to extend ourselves grace, flexibility, and perspective. And if we do all that the benefits will outweigh the challenges. I feel that.

We are still fine tuning some things, but we have a good rhythm. This is our little work area. (I almost went to straighten the papers and push in the chairs before I took the pictures, but this is the reality of it including the Brinna scribbles all over the whiteboard).

Hanging on the corkboard is a daily schedule for M/W/F and T/Th. It is a good structure, but we never follow it exactly. We have two envelopes hanging up with her schedule cards in them. I wrote out all of her tasks in sections on notecards and laminated those cards. Each morning I put them in order according to our schedule for the day and what we have going on. She pulls one out. We do the work listed. She places the cards in the second envelope when she is done.

The cards are labeled Warm-ups, Word Work, Reading, Outside, Math, Read Aloud, Writing, Games, Homework, Science, History, and Cooking. Each card has a basic structure, though the activities will change. For example, math is always mental math, computation, lesson, and problem set. And Warm Ups are always phonograms, math fact practice, a work book page from her literacy program, math review problems, and rocket math. 

She always does Warm ups, Word Work, Reading, and Math. Most days she does Writing and Read Aloud, but I don't worry if we miss those occasionally (because she likes to write and she likes to listen to books at night before bed anyways).  Her homework, which she does after dinner with dad,  is always to do her math corrections and occasionally another short assignment. We rotate either history, science, or cooking each day. I try to make sure we play math or literacy games at the end of the day at least a couple of times a week. Sometimes we play together, some activities are individual, and some are on the computer.

Each card has a money value associated with it. At the end of the day, we count up all the money she earned from the completed cards. That school money can then be used during the week for treats, field trips, lunch dates, screen time, etc.

I have set it up so that she has a mix of independent activities and lessons with me balanced throughout the day. When I am exercising or busy with things around the house or out with errands etc. then she does her independent tasks. 

We keep all of her books, assignments, and curriculum in these tubs. Thank goodness I've saved a lot of resources from my teaching days, but I did order Saxon Math to stay on track with what her neighborhood school does. 

Curriculum resources: Saxon Math, spalding phonograms, rebecca sitton, making words, Journeys, Sylvan vocab, Rocket Math, Lucy Calkin's reading and writing workshop, the Good and the Beautiful handwriting and science, lakeshore building fluency cards, etc. 

I think we have a good balance of flexibility and structure while trying to make sure we are covering all the things and helping Layla do her best learning.

We must be doing something right because she loves homeschooling so much that she created her own school for Brinn and her cousins.

It was too cute watching her combine all of the elements of school that she loves (most notably a treasure box haha) to create a fun "school" herself. 

I hope this homeschooling adventure will be one that we look back on fondly.