This one’s for us!
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
This is not an adventure post, or at least not the same kind of adventure but one may still refer to it as an adventure: our homeschool year adventure(want me to say the word adventure just one more time??)
I know we aren’t at the end of the year just yet, but it’s starting to feel like we will cross this milestone sooner rather than later and I wanted a place to record what this past year has been like for us.
So... if you are like me and love to get inspired by what other families (homeschooling or not) are doing, or, if like a dear friend of mine once told me, you would like to be a small fly creeping on our walls during our school days then this is the post for you.
Keep in mind though, that what I’m about to share is the result of many early mornings getting out of bed before the kids woke up so I could find the resources and how to share them with my children so that this homeschooling journey could resonate as much as possible with our values, our priorities and our vision as a family. This is us, this is our way of doing school, or maybe I should say of doing life.
A quote I love goes like this:
“ I don’t educate my kids at home to do school with them... I homeschool so I can do life with them.” -5hourschoolweek
I hope you can see why, when I was asked to share resources when all the schools around us were closing, I felt reticent about sharing what we have been doing since I felt like it resonated so much with us it couldn’t just be “copied and pasted” to fit someone else’s life.
But here I am, offering you a sneak peak into our homeschool life!
At the beginning of the school year I had vowed that I wouldn’t just jump on the first beautiful curriculum that caught my attention... and believe me, as a book enthusiast and lover of beautiful content that was a real challenge.
I decided to invest instead in a few good books for myself, all of them having to do with homeschooling but not “school at home” if you can start to see the nuance here. I also have a membership with Wild and Free(a homeschooling community) which provided guidelines and “start of school year” templates I could get inspired from.
Since this was going to be our first “official” school year, I wanted a little more rhythm to our days without erasing all childhood innocence from them!
I carefully chose 7 subjects that I thought would add learning experiences and beauty to our days without us feeling overwhelmed by the schedule. Using the “Planning your year” sheet from Wild and free, I wrote down my vision for each subject and how that could be reached throughout the year.
The subjects were as follows:
1- Language Arts... meaning we would read a lot of chapter books, practice our writing skills, learn how to read, learn how to narrate, in English and in French... you get the idea. I also decided to include a bit of poetry... and found the « Poetry for young people » collection at a thrift store. The books include the biography of the poet and the poems are accompanied by the most beautiful illustrations!
Ok, here I must admit I decided to go with a math curriculum(but only bought the first four books in case we didn’t like it)...
I’ve heard about these books through a friend who had asked a veteran homeschooling mom what her « genius » son had used for math and that was the answer she received... I thought it was worth a look into!
This is the most random and weird math curriculum I have ever seen. It reads as a chapter book, a continuing story every day, and we go from learning about Archimedes and him wanting to count the grains of sand to exploring terms like cardinal, numeral, ordinal, commutative, etc.
The kids love it, and I’m amazed at how much information they retain just because of the way it is presented to them!
Ironically, this is the only subject in which we won’t have covered as much as I had envisioned back in September! Hopefully, crossing the globe and emerging yourself in a totally new culture counts as credits in this area!
I had a little « chatbook » printed of last winter’s adventure through the US in our RV and plan on doing the same with our Thailand adventure photos!
I had bought these two books that would cover the basics of geography and then most of North America’s geography as we follow the adventures of a little wooden canoe through the rivers and lakes but we barely opened them... next year!
4-Art and Composer study
I felt inspired to use www.amblesideonline.com free art and composer study resources. My older kids LOVE art... this is really not something I see everyone using, but for us, it just adds beauty to our learning!
I printed the paintings from each of the painters we were gonna study this year and compiled them in a simple binder with protecting plastic sheets.
After reading a short biography of the chosen painter(we studied Pieter Brugel the elder, Gustave Courbet and J.M.W. Turner) we just admired a few of their paintings, commenting on what we observed and then tried our hand at painting ourselves.
Since social distancing happened, my mom offered to give the kids a weekly watercolor lesson via facetime which we happily added to our art study!
As for the composer study, we do the same: read a short bio and then listen to their compositions and watch short documentaries about them on youtube!
I never would have thought that I would be the one to love listening to classical music(I prefer Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, they are more my kind of classics) but having earned a greater knowledge of the composers and their contributions to the world of music has made me want to listen to them and appreciate their creativity with a new admiration!
Hopefully it does the same for the kiddos... Norah has been repeating «Paganini » whenever she hears the violon now! (We have studied Mozart, Paganini and Schumann.)
I think I’m an extremely visual person... I’m trying hard to develop my sense of hearing but on many occasions do I put on an audiobook or podcast only to find myself realizing that I had forgotten to listen to the past 5 chapters! Oops! But give me a book or an image and I will have it memorized in just a few moments!
So, for our Canadian history I knew I needed something visual to help, if not only the kids but I, keep track of the major events.
I found this printable timeline at thecanadianhomeschooler.com for 5$ and then worked from there. Every important event is reported on the timeline with a short resume including the date and a picture. We would study one event at a time adding books from the library and documentaries relating to the subject to our learning!
I also wanted them to have a greater understanding of history, something more tangible than just a few dates and events to remember so I decided to include fictional history to the mix. With the help of Bonnie Landry’s book « Great books to study Canadian History » I went into a search for books with young people as their main characters going through the different periods of our history! The kids have especially loved the « Cher Journal/Dear Canada » collection! And I loved reading them, holding back tears many times as I was reading!
6- World History
Now if you ask Zoey, this is the best school subject ever! I was lucky to stumble upon this book called « Story of the World » a few years ago and we just started reading it right then. It’s literally the story of the world... we read it as one big interesting story and stop to study more indepth whenever our curiosity is not satisfied by the book. We have added crafts, outdoor archeological sites, documentaries, library books and so much more to the mix. We are almost through the first book having covered the Earliest People to the end of Rome.
This was one of the easy ones... I feel like we are surrounded by science, that our every day life is filled with it if we only take time to let it sink in! This is the subject that we have been learning all
about without even knowing it.
It sometimes looks like going through beautiful books found at the dollar store that just so happens to go perfectly with the new telescope that your son begged your husband to get you for your birthday!
It sometimes looks like a hike in the woods in our backyard followed by a few minutes of browsing through our nature books and then coloring what we saw.
It sometimes looks like too many hands trying to mix a muffin batter that we all measured and poured together.
It sometimes looks like the “dreaded sex-talk” that every parents is so often scared of but that just came naturally for us and that we wanted to include in our family culture before it became a “thing” or even worst; a taboo.
It sometimes looks like just being tired of all that toilet talks that goes around in a house with four kiddos and giving into their unending demands for you to read the book with “the poop”!
And most days lately, it looks like an episode of the Kratt’s brothers for the kiddos while I whip up something for lunch because the weather was so nice outside we’ve forgotten we had to go back in to eat!
I know that this is a really long post of things having to do mostly with us and not as “inspiring” as I usually try to be, but... you had been warned! If however, you are still reading and finding that this alternative way of doing life resonates with you, please reach out! I would love to chat some more with you!
Here is a picture of two of my favorite children’s books.
For some reason I always choke up whenever I read them... this is the life I want for my kiddos!
In one of them, the author says how, when he was being homeschooled, his mom had to take pictures of everything they were doing in order to surrender them to their school board at the end of the year... they even had a saying: “ take it for the portfolio!”
We don’t have to surrender anything to our schoolboard over here but this blog is our portfolio! This is where we keep our memories! Thank you for following along with us! This has been a beautiful year of homeschooling for us, and it isn’t even over yet!
P.S. I had to mention that the kids finally accomplished all the assignments they had to in order to earn all their badges and lastly their long awaited Wild Explorers Club award!!! Way to go kiddos!