• leighmcswan

A Month of Homeschooling at a Glance

October - November


I love receiving messages on my Instagram that I’ve inspired you to try something you’ve seen me do with my kids. It’s such a loving compliment to get because I consider myself a rookie when it comes to this homeschooling life. I’m still incredibly new at it, having just started a full intentional year this September.



Prior to that I, like many other homeschoolers, was thrown into the role of ‘teacher’ in March of 2020. While I did my best to educate my kids, I had no clue what I was doing. It also happened to be the year we decided to renovate and sell our home in search of something quieter with some land so we could homestead. This led to an entire year and a bit of living out of boxes and feeling very disconnected from education. Now that we’re *mostly* settled in our new home and the kids are enrolled in a few programs, we have our flow. I have been attentive and intentional to educating the kids from home. It feels really great to finally give this a shot without the distraction of moving.


I decided to create this blog series because there’s a need. There’s a need to see the ‘green’ Mom attempting to do this, failing, doing it, failing some more and getting back up and giving it another go.


I know for me personally, social media can feel intimidating. I catch myself comparing my home education to others and feel inadequate. I’m not a gifted artist or a talented musician, and I kinda suck at math. If I’m being really honest, I never wanted to teach my own children but I’m starting to love the process as I evolve and figure this out with my family. So, now that you know where I’m coming from, let the messy, figuring-it-out-as-we-go be of comfort to you. I’m sharing this part of our lives because I know it will make another Mom feel good about her efforts.


This will NEVER be a blog series dedicated to perfect crafts, step-by-step lesson plans and organized schedules. That’s just not how we do this. If that sounds like you too, then you’re in the right place.


Here’s a glance at what we’ve been up to over the last month.


*if you haven’t read the first blog post in this How We Homeschool series, start here.



Well, the occasional snow fall has made for some pretty happy kids. We have a really great tobogganing hill in our backyard and so far the kids have done approximately 10 runs in total. The snow isn’t sticking to the ground for more than a day but, hey, every opportunity to burn some energy is worth it. That hill is my workout- getting back up it is the most effort I put into my day!


Fun with Friends


Being in a homeschooling community is a big part of our home education. It’s given the boys an opportunity to meet some really, really great friends and it’s allowed me to make connections with Mom’s who have similar goals to me in regard to child-rearing. Not only has it led to wonderful social interactions, it also gives the kids exposure to things I simply can’t offer them. It’s a lot of fun, keeps them physically active and gives us something to look forward to each week.


Over the last month we embarked (and captured) upon a few fun places.


Adventure Park for Kids- Tree Walk Village

This is a great space for kids and adults. You’re able to play and climb with your kids or sit back and relax for a few hours while the kids go wild. It’s a fully enclosed space which makes it safe and secure for younger children or those with flight tendencies.



Track & Field Day


Our homeschool community put on a really fun day of track and field events at a friend's farm. There were kids of all ages who were competing within their age range, winning medals and engaging in fun competition with their peers. The events included a relay race, 200m sprint, shot put, long jump, a 3-legged race, potato sack race, frisbee golf and discus. It was an awesome day of sportsmanship and a great chance for parents to socialize and coach their kids and their friends.


Halloween Party


Our dear friends graciously opened their home to 30 kids and their parents for an epic night of Halloween fun. Each family was responsible for creating a table with an activity (ours was The Monster’s Ball, aka musical chairs) for the kids to do as well as to ‘trick-or-treat’ at. The kids had so much fun and I think all the parents did too (at least I did, I know that for a fact!).



The Pump Park


This is a skatepark and pump park for all ages. It’s a great space for kids to practice new skills, watch other, more advanced riders do impressive tricks and to meet new people. We went with our good friends, and fellow homeschoolers, and we had to drag our kids out of there. There’s also a soccer field so it’s the perfect space if you have multiple kids with multiple interests.



Homesteading


Our homesteading adventures included adding a climbing cargo net to the backyard. We have a small cluster of tall pines that the boys have claimed. They have free range to do whatever they want down there (within reason) and adding things like gymnastic rings, swings, an archery target and a shelter built from fallen branches has been a favourite way for them to create, play and experiment with tools when the weather is nice. Joel brought home a large cargo net from a sporting goods store and spent an afternoon rigging it up with the kids.


The boys are always helping us do things around the house such as cooking, cleaning, laundry and minor repair jobs. This is the beautiful thing about home-based education- the life learning that organically grows from simply spending time at home living life together. The kids do things we have to do alongside us, soaking it all in, learning and seeing ‘lessons’ in a real life scenario versus learning theoretically. This still continues to inspire me to keep going when the days are difficult, as they are from time to time.



Whole Foods


Here’s where I pull education into the every-day activities. Grocery shopping has the potential to be a phenomenal learning opportunity. While driving to the store we typically discuss something they can learn by going shopping and being observant.



I prompt them with open-ended/thought provoking questions like:


“How much food in the grocery store comes from Canada?”

“What’s the difference between farmed fish and wild fish?”

“How many different countries can you discover in the grocery store?”

“What are the different units of measure for fruit, meat, cheese etc?”

“How much do you think the grocery bill will be?”

“How do we identify organic, genetically modified and conventionally grown food?”

“If you could create any meal with only 5 ingredients, what would you make?”

“What do you think is involved in getting a pineapple from Costa Rica to Canada?”

“Is it important to eat local or exotic foods?”



Activities


This month for the first time we tried Little Passports. It’s a subscription box you can purchase as often as you like for your children. The first order includes a little suitcase with a passport and some information on the country of the month. The box we received this month included a book, collectors coin, gemstone, activity book and a few other surprises. We spent a few days working through everything in the kit and learned quite a bit about Brazil.



My kids enjoyed it (like they do with anything that has their names on it and arrives in the mail). I think it will be something we do in the winter months when time outdoors is more limited.


Math


Math is pretty standard for us. We use the Jump Math workbooks which can be purchased here.


What does change however is where we do math! Lately, when it’s sunny and warm(ish) we take some blankets (+ Wallace & Bruster) to the trampoline and work from there.



Language Arts


We typically do a trip to the local library once every 2 weeks or so. I’m constantly amazed at how much their love for reading is growing and growing, month by month. This has allowed us to incorporate a slow, intentional morning that involves hot coffee (herbal tea for them), background acoustic music playing and books on the couch with cozy blankets and endless stories to live through. THIS has been one of the most rewarding routines we’ve created to date. It’s always been my hope that my children will fall in love with books the same way I did when I was a child.



Speaking of books…

I got inspired by Monique Willms on Instagram to do a Narwhal comic book with the kids.


It’s really simple to do, you just need a Narwhal and Jelly book (or a comparable with easy to draw characters), a blank comic book, like the ones we use here and your child’s imagination.



I read them a Narwhal and Jelly book, then the boys worked through the writing process and created categories they thought would be necessary for a story.


It included:


An Introduction (how does everyone meet?)

The Characters (who is a part of the story)

The Problem (what issue or conflict do the characters face?)

The Solution (how do they overcome the issue or conflict?)

The Ending (how does it all tie together?)


Typically when we do prompted writing exercises, I give them the story-line structure and they fill it in. This time, I wanted to see how they would create the story from start to finish and this is the format they both agreed upon.


After that we sketched out the main characters on a blank sheet of paper. Then it was time to write, draw and colour.


Now, here’s the catch. My kids love drawing…writing….not so much. In order to keep this activity a writing-focused one, I asked them to write for 2 pages, then draw for 2 pages, write for 2, draw for 2.



This activity was the biggest success in our language arts block to date. The kids were more engaged and excited than I expected and it turned into an entire day-long project. It even trickled into a few days and ended up replacing some other subjects I had planned, such as science. I’m not complaining, though, because writing isn’t something my kids typically spend more time on than necessary. We’ll definitely be continuing on with this activity in the future with other books, or perhaps we’ll stick to Narwhal and Jelly- whatever the kids want to do is fine by me.



So there you have it, another month of home education, our way. To see more behind the scenes of how we homeschool, follow along on Instagram, @holistic_leigh.


Xo,

Leigh

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