What I Wish I Could Tell My Younger Homeschool Mom Self

Recently I have had a few conversations with younger mothers who are eager to embark on their homeschool journey. These chats have reminded me of all the things I wish someone had told me when I was considering homeschool in those preschool years. Since this is on my mind, I thought I would share here on the blog in the hopes this advice helps out some other mom who wants to make the most of the early childhood years! Before you go out and buy some expensive preschool curriculum or fill your child’s days with endless workbook pages, read on…

Tip Number 1:

My number one tip to you as you consider learning at home in the early years (up to age 6), is this:

RELAX!

Seriously. Just take a deep breath. It is easy to get caught up in the current cultural ideas of early academics. But the research does not back up the push to get kids reading, writing and doing math drills at a young age. The best thing you can do with your young children is to enjoy them being little and not worry about skills that will be easier to teach/learn later when they are more developmentally and behaviorally ready. Instead of stressing about curriculum, why don’t you spend some time researching different homeschool styles and philosophies. Take the opportunity to educate yourself and consider what sort of educational philosophy most resonates with you.

Tip Number 2:

But, you may ask, what can I do to add some intentional learning and structure to our days without going overboard? My first advice is to read aloud. A lot. Every day, multiple times a day, sit down and read a picture book to your child. Read the best books you can get your hands on. Get a library card and go as often as you can. Borrow audio books off Hoopla or Overdrive, and listen to them in the car. Look at AmblesideOnline Year 0 book lists for some great suggestions. Sign up for the free book lists from Read Aloud Revival for seasonal picture book ideas and family read alouds (not all for preschoolers, but still a good resource.) Or get your hands on a copy of the book Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, which has a great book list, as well as inspiration for reading with your children!

Tip Number 3:

Other than reading all the time, go outside as much as possible. Take advantage of the good weather whenever you can and get outside. If it is cold, bundle up and go for a nature walk to see if you can spot migrating birds or find interesting seed pods or look at beautiful frost flowers. If it is hot, turn on the sprinkler or fill up the kiddy pool and get wet. If it is rainy, put on your boots and go splash in the puddles. Go to any scenic parks and nature centers you can find locally, not just playgrounds. Notice animals, birds, leaves, rocks, sticks, bugs, clouds, flowers, etc. Get dirty.

Tip Number 5:

For indoor play, look up sensory activities to experience together. Sand, water beads, “clean mud,” plain old water, pouring beans/rice, play dough, cloud dough, etc. (Google and Pinterest are your friend here!) Listen to beautiful music. Sing children’s songs (I have a list of good ones here —> 100 Songs to Sing with Children.) Look at beautiful art. Your library should have some books with collections of art prints to flip through. Let them paint, draw, color, stamp, and paint some more. Teach basic household chores like folding washcloths, matching socks, wiping the table, sweeping the floor with a little broom and dustpan, setting the table, and washing produce.

I’ll say it again…

Most importantly, I want to reiterate my first point. Relax. Enjoy this precious time with your young child. Embrace the wonder and curiosity that he or she naturally has right now. Don’t sweat the academics. There will be time for that later. Slow down. Don’t rush. They will grow up so fast, even though I know it doesn’t feel that way right now. Trust me…you won’t regret holding off on those workbooks and curricula, momma. Just love on your kiddos. It will be okay.

Further Reading and Resources:

The Homegrown Preschooler is a book that comes highly recommended and has lots of ideas for learning in the early years.

A helpful blog post by one of my favorite homeschool mentors, Brandy Vencel: Looking Back: What I Wish I’d Know About Homeschooling in the Early Years

Another of my virtual homeschool mentors, Mystie Winkler, also wrote on the topic of the classical kindergarten: Dear Mom who wants to give her 5-year-old a classical education

Sarah MacKenzie of Read Aloud Revival’s blog post on the early years: 6 Ways to Early Years You Won’t Regret

Advent 2018 Memory Work Plans and Free Printable

During the month of December, we take an official break in our homeschool. Since we value consistency and enjoy our morning time together, though, I still like to continue some sort of recitation and read-aloud routine. It will look a little different than our regular monthly memory work because of it being Advent season. I planned several hymns and carols and no catechism or motto for this month.

Our full morning time plan is to read the “Parents and Children” part of one devotional from Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp. After that we will do our recitation/memory work, followed by a chapter or two from a read aloud, and ending by opening a card on our Advent tree to find out what the day’s activity will be. So far, I have planned that we will read aloud The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The True GiftWhen we finish those, I will choose short stories from either The Children’s Book of Christmas Stories or Louisa May Alcott’s Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag volumes (which are not all Christmas stories, but I found at least one in each collection.)

Advent 2018 Memory Work Plans:

Scripture: Our scripture passage this month is Luke 2:1-7.

Hymns and Carols: “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Joy to the World” are our hymns. “Good King Wenceslas” and “Cradle Hymn” are our carols. I created a short playlist with variations of each song in case you would like to watch/listen to them with your family.

Poem: We will be memorizing “A Christmas Folk Song” by Lizette Woodworth Reese for our poetry selection.

Free Printable Plans:

If you need some quick last minute memory work plans, here is the free download link to print and use in your own homeschool morning time. These are formatted only in the horizontal style for use as a booklet or in a mini-binder because I didn’t have time to reorganize them for full size binder pages this time. Enjoy!

September 2018 Memory Work Plans with Free Printable

We stepped outside this morning, and the air was almost crisp, with the scent of dry leaves hanging in the air. Fall is coming! It is still August, and I know hot days are still going to be with us for a while, but that hint of autumn weather got us all a little excited. September is right around  the corner, so here are our new memory work plans for next month!

I have been trying to add a little thematic material to our memory work, sometimes to go with the season or holidays. At first I thought maybe we would do a poem and folk song with some sort of autumn theme, apples or leaves or the like. But when I was flipping through our poetry books, the poem “Eletelephony” caught my eye. I’ve always enjoyed a good tongue twister type of poem, so I chose it along with “One Elephant Went Out to Play” (made popular by Sharon, Lois and Bram back when I was a little kid!) I think my kids will get a kick out of these silly rhymes, and it’s always good to start out our homeschool day with smiles! I hope if you use these plans, your children will enjoy them, too!

August Memory Work

Hymn: Children of the Heavenly Father

Catechism: Review Questions 1, 2 and 3 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: Family Way #3 from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson, and “Obey right away, all the way, with a good attitude, every day.”

Scripture: James 1:22-25

Poetry: Eletelephony by Laura E. Richards

Folksongs: Cockles and Mussels, One Elephant Went Out to Play

Free Printable Plans

As I did last month, I am including a free printable version of these memory work plans for you all! I decided to simplify and just do formatting for the vertical 8.5×11 version this time. But you can still choose to print booklet style or 2 pages to a sheet if you wish, which is what I will be doing. Let me know if you are using these memory work plans, and if you have any questions or suggestions. Until next time, have a happy homeschool day!

August 2018 Memory Work and a Free Printable

Did the month of July just fly by for anybody else, or was only that way for me? We were almost as busy in July as in June, even without traveling. It just dawned on me yesterday as we finished up our school work that I needed to get new memory work plans typed up for August! And I have great news! This month I am including a free printable for you to download and use in your home.

So here they are, just in time for those of you who need a little inspiration for the start of a new school year. We’ve been back at it for a few weeks now, and you can click here to see our memory work from July. My kids enjoyed having the extra song in there, so I decided to keep up with having 2 folksongs again this month. (Their favorite part of our recitation time last month was marching around the living room singing “Over the Hills and Far Away” at the top of their lungs!)

August Memory Work

Hymn: My Faith Looks Up to Thee

Catechism: Questions 34 and 35 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We read the Bible and pray to God every day with an open heart.” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, The Parable of the Weeds

Poetry: Little Talk by Aileen Fisher

Folksongs: The Green Grass Grew All Around and Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

Free Printable Plans!

I’ve converted these memory work plans into free printable PDFs for you to download! The landscape format is such that you can print a copy and cut or fold the pages in half to put in a small 3 ring binder, like these. I slide them into page protectors so they don’t get as messed up by small hands. The portrait format is made for regular sized binders, or you can probably figure out a way to print them 2 pages to a sheet to make a booklet. (But don’t ask me how. I always seem to mess that up when I try it!)

If you are starting a new school year this month, I hope you have a great kick-off! I would also love to hear from you if you are using these memory work plans in your home. Let me know in the comments below!

 

Memory Work Plans for July 2018

Back in March I shared our memory work plans for our homeschool morning recitation time, and I had really intended to make that a regular monthly post. Somehow, though, the next couple of months sneaked up on me, and those posts never happened. I decided to try and pick back up now that we are about to start a new school term. I know many homeschoolers who also start back up in mid-summer, so perhaps it will help some of you out as try and wrap up your planning during a holiday week!

July Memory Work

Hymn: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Catechism: Questions 32 and 33 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We love and obey our Lord Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Psalm 27:1-2, Psalm 28:7

Poetry: Over the Hills and Far Away by Eugene Field

Folksongs: My Country, ‘Tis of Thee and Over the Hills and Far Away

I decided to add an extra song into our recitation time this term. I have so many songs that I still want to introduce to my children while they are young, and I just don’t remember to do that unless it is part of our school day.

I chose most of these selections back in the winter before we began our new school year. If I had it to do over again, I might try harder to choose more patriotic themed memory work to go with the Independence Day holiday. Maybe next year I will remember to do that if I know we are going to be schooling in July. But at least I had a general outline planned to save myself the time and energy during break! I hope this little outline of our July memory work helps you as you plan for your own homeschool recitation time.