Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adventures of the Rookie Homeschooler

I think I need a logo for that title--something along the lines of a mom in a super cape, hands on hips and awesome goggles. Yeah? I'll get Casey right on that. Because this won't be my first Rookie Homeschooler post, I plan on making this a series as I learn :)

Some of you have followed my homeschooling journey a little bit and know that I chose My Father's World curriculum this year.  About a month into it, I ditched it almost completely.  I have a 1st grader who is very resistant to text books, repetitive book work and anything that feels purposeless.  Added to that, I found the teachers manuals for both grades to be super confusing. I felt like everything they were actually learning and enjoying were the things I was doing outside of the curriculum and so I prayed for guidance for about a week before reaching an epiphany--my feelings of fear (of failure if I branched out on my own) and guilt (for spending money on a curriculum and then ditching it) were driving my determination to keep using it and those were not good enough reasons to continue making everyone miserable.

So, the moment I told Natalie to put away her handwriting sheet and help me make a party supply list instead (for our first day of Fall party) was the moment everything changed! For several weeks now, she's been getting excited about school, she writes letters, lists and ideas willingly and she loves to read where there's incentive involved.  We came up with fun ways to practice math too. I can expand more later on some of the things that have worked in the motivation/attitude department, but for now, I want to share a few books and resources that I am really loving!

First off, the Core Knowledge series, or other similar books are essential (in my opinion) for the homeschooler who decides not to follow a curriculum or all-inclusive program. Following the guidelines in this book gives me the much-needed reassurance that I am not going to miss something. It also has great read-aloud stories and activity ideas for every subject.

Next is something my sister told me about and I almost immediately ordered, called Literature Pockets.  We got the Nursery Rhymes one, but there are all kinds for all grades and there are even History Pockets, which I really want to try next year.
These are SO much fun! Each week, you study a different nursery rhyme and make a pocket by folding a 9x16 piece of construction paper into a pocket and filling it with the various activities that go along with that nursery rhyme. I try to run with these themes as much as possible too--like when we were on "Little Miss Muffet", we also studied spiders that week, with pictures, facts and videos. The coloring activities are great during read-aloud time.

I have to cook dinner, but I have more favorite resources to share ... Next time, on Adventures of the Rookie Homeschooler!!!! (I hope you read that in your best superhero narrator voice).

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