With a 1st grader, preschooler, toddler, and a baby on the way!
This is our first official year of homeschooling, and we are enjoying it so much. I want to share with you our setup in minimal space, as well as our routine for school mornings.
I have always loved the idea of homeschooling, and in our situation it just seems to be the best option, much to the delight of my teacher heart.
For the past couple of years I have been doing some preschool and kindergarten work with my oldest. We had so much fun and she picked up easily, only getting overwhelmed if it was too much reading or writing. So though she is not quite 6 as we start the school year (here in Costa Rica from February to November), we felt she was ready for first grade work. We plan to take it easy and take more than a year if it gets overwhelming, but so far she is doing well. (Update: we ended up not finishing first grade this year, as it was hard to give her enough time with the baby, and she was getting overwhelmed. So we will finish next year.)
This year is also different as we are expecting a baby during the school year, but we know we can take off all the time we need. (Update: Check out how to homeschool with a baby.)
Our School Space
Our home is quite small (6×8 square meters) for the soon to be six of us, so I have to keep looking for ways to live minimally and fit everything in an organized way. The dream of a school room is for sometime in the future. However, we get by well at this stage still just doing our homeschooling around the kitchen table.
Nearby we have that wooden closet where the top two shelves are designated for the current school year. Stuff from past years or for future years are stored elsewhere in boxes, where I will have to dig it out in future years.
The top shelf holds teacher’s manuals, books for later in the year, flashcards, and any other teacher supplies I need. I guess you can call that shelf my teacher’s desk!
The shelf below that one is where each of the girls have their supplies. The younger two girls don’t have much so their stuff is standing against the back, and the older one’s stuff is on a pile on the front left side. On the right we place other stuff they need, like the folders to make their portfolios, hands on activities, etc. On the inside of the closet doors we have their school charts.
Every school day we take out and return stuff as we need it. For this stage it works well, but once we have more students I hope we can have a bigger school space.
Our Homeschool Routine
For this year our school days are very flexible. If I have an appointment or something major comes up, we skip school for the day. But so far we have generally averaged four days a week. Once we will get into higher grades and it won’t all depend on me so much, we plan to stick more to a formal schedule.
Around 6 in the morning the girls are getting up. First they help their dad with feeding our cat, dog, and 9 hens while I make breakfast. Then we all have breakfast and Marcos leaves for work around 7. Next the girls an I get busy dressing and combing them, and doing their chores (which include dishes, cleaning up the house, etc.)
While they are doing their chores I help out as needed, start laundry, make beds, and just supervise getting the house in order. The girls usually get to play awhile yet after their chores, while I finish up my work.
Around 9a.m. I am usually ready and call them all to the school time. First we have Circle time, where we sit around the living room and go through the new song we are learning and review a couple of the older ones. Then we do the same with our Bible memory work. Next we do a bit of some other family subject which can include review manners, basic safety, or anything else I want them to learn which doesn’t necessarily come in their schoolbooks.
After Circle time we gather around the table. I start the oldest on some independent work like her math or penmanship, and the second one gets started on two pages of her preschool book. Then I work with the youngest one even if she is only 2 years old, for even little ones are happier with a bit of Mommy/school time.
After going over some flashcards, sorting games, coloring, etc. with her, she is done for the day and can go play.
Next I finish up preschool with my middle child, practicing writing her name, doing some flashcards etc., and then she is done for the day too.
After that I stick with helping my first grader. We also take a break around ten for a snack and a bit of play time. The rest of the school time I work with her and fill out my teacher planner with what we got done for the day. We usually don’t really do a whole day’s worth of goals, but she was a bit ahead from having learned to read some before the year started, and I know we don’t have to push anything at this age.
Around 11 we finish up and put everything away. The rest of my day is spent with regular housework or anything else I need to do. During the afternoon I try to get in some time to read to the girls, and maybe go out on a walk if it is possible.
Homeschooling is so much fun for me. I know it isn’t for every one, but it is one of my favorite things to do – watching my children learn and grow.
You can also read about our First Day of Homeschool activities.
See how we study the process metamorphosis in this article on raising caterpillars to butterflies.
How does your school time go with just little people in the house?
Save it for later!