We are now officially a homeschooling family! It seems strange to say that as I have thought of us as homeschooling for a while but this week we crossed the line from ‘theoretical’ to ‘actual’. I’ve been thinking about homeschooling with Huwyl since he was only a few months old; it has not been a straightforward journey to this point but each step along the way has brought us to this happy destination.
I am aiming to do a weekly update on our activities to keeps Nanas, Grandads and Grandpas in the loop as well as doting Aunties and interested friends. I say aiming, so you may have to be a little patient with me as we find our feet and our rhythm along the way.
So this week was the official back to school week for Canadian children. Some had started at the end of August but the public schools were back after Labour day, so that is when we chose to start. And what better way to start the grueling slog of the school year than breakfast with lovely homeschooling pals? Despite a busy restaurant and food arriving very slowly, it was a nice tradition to share our first morning with the friends who have helped us so much on this journey. I’m hoping to make it an annual thing, though perhaps without overworked wait staff and fellow customers who seem to think children should all be locked in a basement somewhere! (Please excuse the slightly blurry iphone pic of our out-in-the-daylight-hours children and my lovely pal and homeschooling guru Cheryl)
After our breakfast we did a little ‘back to school’ shopping and Huwyl chose his very own pencil case, pencils, eraser and pencil sharpener. The set even came with a little book which Huwyl designated as his handwriting practise book for the remainder of the week. Just because we are not actually going to school I didn’t see why we should miss out on the best bit of the education process – back to school stationary!
This month our theme is Autumn and Harvest, I am basing the curriculum on the seasons so there is plenty of inspiration all around us. We start our school time with circle time and this week I’ve been reading Huwyl a verse about the mighty oak. I also performed a finger play about the wind, both of which I’ll repeat this week. The finger plays I do often come from this book made available on the lovely blog Our Little Nature Nest.
One of our seasonal stories was The Leaf Man by Louis Ehlert. It is a delightful book and Huwyl and I have enjoyed noticing something new in the cleverly designed pictures each time we read the book. It also inspired a craft project which was a real hit with both of the boys. I used a large piece of paper and drew around Huwyl as he lay down on it. I then cut it out and we painted it with brown and red paint. On our nature/dog walk we collected lots of fallen leaves which we left to dry and then stuck on to the leaf boy. Huwyl wrote a sign for our project which we stuck to the back door.
It was great to see how engaged Huwyl was with this project but also fun to include Neirin on his first painting adventure! He loved using a brush and I was surprised by how dedicated and precise he was. Integrating the needs of both boys is certainly not without its challenges and will be an ongoing process but in this moment when they were both working attentively on one goal it really felt like the perfect homeschool moment.
The other revelation I’ve had this week is how enthusiastic Huwyl has been to begin school each day. Before I’ve even finished my breakfast he is asking when we can begin and is reluctant to end when the time comes. I have had to rush a little to make sure he has something to do as I anticipated a little more nudging from me would be required. In fact he is the one nudging me! Next week I will be armed with more activities for him should he have need of them.
As well as beginning our homeschool time we have begun our music class. As I don’t have any expertise in this area and I really want to make sure that Huwyl has a good experience with music, we’ve enrolled in the Music for Young Children programme. We attended our first lesson this week and both greatly enjoyed it. A wonderful surprise arrived for Huwyl then next day (courtesy of thoughtful daddy) when his new keyboard came. Both boys have enjoyed trying out the keyboard and Huwyl has been practising what he learned in music class with no prompting at all.
I know there will be challenges down the road, as there are for any parent, but to spend this time with the boys has been such a highlight. Seeing Huwyl’s unbidden enthusiasm for learning has reassured me that we are on the right track. I feel so lucky to have so much support from family, our extended family of dear friends and the boys themselves as we embark on this learning experience.
I have a funny feeling that the one who has the most lessons to learn will be me. Can’t wait.
Next week we will be continuing on with our leaf motif (I know, I’m sorry) and introducing some phonics into the mix. More updates soon!