All I can say is that I had NO idea how much we would love this!! To say, we've enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement. Now that I'm responsible for their entire education, I find that I teach in English the majority of the time. Most of their subjects and most of my material is in English. And let's face it, we live in the U.S. and they need to be literate in English. However, we still try to use mostly German when we're not home schooling and we also have German reading time and German class (where we focus on grammar, writing, and spelling).
We're now coming to the end of our first semester of home schooling. I've been taking little video clips of the kids for the past few months in order to document our maiden voyage on this journey. These clips, of course, don't show the stressful and non-cooperative times, only the good times! I don't want anyone to think that the kids never fight, complain, or whine!! They do!! Although, I must admit that most days are pretty amazing! In fact, I've been enjoying home schooling so much, that I literally feel a little giddy each night at the thought that I get to wake up the next morning and spend this precious time with my little people.
I think home schooling can be very mysterious to those who have never tried it. It certainly was to me. I often looked at my home schooling friends and wondered what their days looked like. Could they really learn as much at home as my kids were learning at school? Well, maybe home schooling is so misunderstood and mysterious because there are usually no outsiders witnessing a family's home school day. In fact, even those who home school really have no idea what another family's home school looks like. Each family will have their own style and their own methods (and that may vary significantly from year to year). That's one of the reasons I'm posting this video. I thought it might be helpful to those considering home schooling or to those who are curious what home schooling can look like. Our style might not be your style or anyone else's, but it is what has worked for us this year.
After watching my video compilation, I've decided that we do "floor and sofa-school". The kids love to work on the floor or on the sofas. They are rarely at a table!! I also found that we very, very rarely used our designated home-school room. The kids preferred the kitchen table and family room. During the cool winter months, everyone in the house prefers the cozy family room with the roaring fire. It's what worked for us. Also, we happen to have a unique situation
If I were to pick 5 things that have been key to making this a great home school year, they would be as follows:
1. The Good and the Beautiful Curriculum by Jenny Phillips
I can't say enough about the Good and the Beautiful!This is hands-down the best curriculum ever! I absolutely love it and it's probably one of the main reasons I look forward to each day of home school. It's uplifting, rigorous, well thought out, and so easy to follow. It requires absolutely no prep work. You literally open the book and go. The lessons are absolutely full of good and beautiful material...I guess that's how they came up with the fitting name. :) I love how it circles around and reviews concepts, while also constantly introducing new ones. I feel like my children are getting such a well-rounded education, and, as a bonus, I'm learning right along with them!! I LOVE it!!!
2. Baker Web Academy
Technically, we are not actually home schoolers. Instead, we are enrolled in a public charter school for kids who are doing school at home. Baker Web Academy (BWA) provides us with curriculum and learning materials choices at no cost to us! It's fabulous! We have so much educational material at our disposal that there is always something fun to do. Some of my BWA favorites are:
- Modos Literature Curriculum--we love this one
- Story of the World Curriculum (books, work books and audio CDs)-love, love, love!
- Test Prep, writing, spelling, geography, and grammar books and work books
- Science books and science kit supplies
- And so many fun art sets, robotics kits, games, and so much more
- Zearn (actually free to anyone, but BWA gives us the work books)
- Mystery Science
- Reading Plus
3. Liber Leadership Academy
We joined a wonderful home school group/school which meets every Wednesday morning. The kids have fun classes where they do music, art, science and all sorts of other activities. The best part, is that they get to socialize with some great kids. They even get to have a real recess with friends. I've appreciated getting to know many of the moms. They are great ladies who have inspired me to be a better mom and teacher. The kids love their school and their friends.
4. Foreign Language Curricula
We are home schooling in both German in English. We've been using the Piri Curriculum published by Klett. It's a German grade school curriculum designed for use in German public schools. The book has a digital version which we enjoy. We also have lots of workbooks and sound tracks.
In addition, here are some of my favorite German helps.
On top of German, we're trying to learn some French. My favorite French helps are:
- Bonjour les amis by Learn Alberta (Canadian online interactive French program)
- Super Easy French Youtube Video
- More on my Pinterest page
5. Music Opportunities
- Pacific University String Project
I said I would only pick 5 things, but I'd like to add two more activities that have blessed the lives of my kids this year:
In order to help the kids keep up their associations and relationships with their friends from our local public school, we are encouraging them to participate in year-round sports. We don't want to lose touch with their good friends and the amazing families at our local elementary school. We also try to attend elementary school evening activities. It's important that the kids maintain their friendships. At some point, they may decide to go back to school.
I have this last...but it should be first!! The kids' participation in Sunday worship and Wednesday night activities, including Cub Scouts and Activity Days, has been a huge positive influence in their lives. They get lots of social interaction, do fun activities, and are taught wonderful life lessons and good morals. It's here that the the lessons we are teaching at home are solidified and supported. The support our family gets from our church family is immeasurable. The kids learn so much from their teachers and leaders and are inspired and taught by so many good role models. Church is awesome!!
So, as we come to the end of our first semester of home schooling, I have to say that it's been an amazing experience. One of the main reasons it's been so great, is because I've had so many helpful resources at my disposal. I didn't have to do this alone!! There is SO much help out there. How wonderful that we live in a country where we do have the choice to have a say in our kids' education!!