Last weekend we decided to officially start a new homeschooling curriculum. We had purchased Blossom & Root Early Years Volume 2 almost a year ago, an picked through it on weekends and days off together. So we are moving on to their Kindergarten curriculum. I scrambled to find all of the books, resources and items needed to get through the first few weeks and was excited to have a new plan in place!
Although Bram isn't eligible for public school kindergarten until Fall 2021 I was comfortable starting the BR Kindergarten knowing I would have age appropriate expectations of him and could easily scale the projects as needed.
Overall it was a great week, I am really enjoying my new work role, and being able to spend so much time with Bram. The hardest part is the last hour of work in the mornings when he is just done being independent and wants my attention which is distracting. We're working through that and are hopeful he will sleep in longer and will become more independent as we go.
This was our first "official" week of homeschooling and me working remotely super early each morning. It was a learning experience for all of us!
Overall I have to say it went very well. I intentionally went into this week without any planning or pre-conceived thoughts of how it would go. I wanted to see what would happen naturally.
Most mornings Bram stayed in bed until 6:45-7:00am, then he would play for a bit, then I'd make him breakfast and he'd watch TV until I concluded at 9:00am. It was great on Monday to have a family day together, something we don't get to enjoy often.
Two major lessons learned:
Friday was Bram's last day of formal Preschool!
He joined STEEC in January 2018 when he was two years old! Before that grandma and a family friend watched him 3 days a week, I worked from home on Fridays and Lee was home on Mondays.
The transition to group style care was not easy, for any of us. The school was a big jump in cost, but we felt comfortable with their level of care and attention, and honestly with their willingness to work with us through the transition. Bram had difficulty napping (so much so one of the teachers held him for naps for several weeks!), with staying engaged with activities, and yes with being very physical with the other kiddos. I think with many other schools or centers we would have been asked to leave but STEEC was always a partner with us.
I have been fortunate to get the opportunity to work from home part time to be able to facilitate this journey of homeschooling. I have worked for the same company for 12 years as an Office Manager of a large accounting firm. I oversaw the operations and administrative team for the four DC area offices. It has been a great career, and company, I've really honestly really enjoyed what I've done. When we made the decision to cut back my hours and educate Bram at home I wasn't sure if it would even be possible to stay with them. In October I went to my boss and told her about our plan and exactly what I was looking for: 20-25 hours weekly, fully remote, and during non-standard hours; ideally 4:30am- 9:00am Monday-Friday, which seemed unattainable, but I really wanted to try to stay with this amazing company if possible. She was understanding and immediately said she would see what she could do. Lee and I were fully committed to beginning this journey so I know if they weren't able to that I would have started looking for alternative sources of income.
There is a fantastic movement that we are participating in this year. 1,000 Hours Outside believes that ... " Allowing children the time they need to play freely outside is not a new or original concept. Nature play is something kids have done since the dawn of time. From that perspective, this is the most ordinary thing we could be doing for our kids. And yet, current research shows that the average American child only gets 4-7 minutes of daily free play outside.
In just a few short decades, childhood has largely moved indoors and yet the basic tenants of child development have not changed. Kids still need outside play in order to fully develop in every facet.
By committing to nature play, you are giving your child the gift a beautiful childhood in the here and now as well as lifelong advantages for the time still to come.
For Hanukkah this year we were very intentional with the presents we gave Bram. We celebrated each night by lighting the candles on the Menorah and saying the blessing at sunset. Then he opened one gift which was a great way for him to focus and play and enjoy that one thing while Lee prepared dinner. Having our play area in the kitchen allows everyone to be part of the experience.
The great thing about Hanukkah is its pretty flexible in terms of when you celebrate with extended family..there are 8 nights to choose from! We got together with Bram's 3 uncles, and his grandparents on Friday night. It was chaos with 11 adults, 3 kids, and 4 dogs. All getting gifts, eating latkes, and having conversations, fun and warm chaos but chaos still.
This area is the "breakfast nook" in our kitchen on the main level of our townhouse. It has been his "playroom" since he was born. It held the pack n play as an infant, the baby exersaucer, the toddler play kitchen, and now its his hub of learning. I believe there is no line between play and learning... playing IS learning. Even 'just playing" is important at his age, at any age! So in this room not only are their workbooks, there are art supplies, crafts, various types of building blocks, super hero figurines, and even an Eagle Castle that has Scottish accented sound affects.
You can easily and quickly fall into deep dark rabbit hole when you start to research various methods or philosophies of homeschooling. Waldorf, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Religious, Unschooling, on and on. It can be very intimidating and confusing…. Just like any other important parenting decision. We learned very early on as parents that how things will go or what Bram needs to succeed or be happy rarely plays out exactly as we had envisioned or planned. So as much as we can try to prepare for the type of homeschooling we want or can provide I’m sure things will change along the way. What he has shown us is that he is extremely inquisitive, and when he is interested in something, he is ALL IN…. and when it’s something that doesn’t interest him it’s a challenge to keep his attention for any length of time.
Recently we made a decision which will drastically change our family dynamic, roles, experience and parenting style.... Soon I will be home full time, and we'll be taking Bram out of his current Preschool and will continue his education out in the world with me as his facilitator. We LOVE his school, and it was a difficult decision. For weeks after we decided to do this we still hadn't put the plans in motion we kept thinking.... "Is this the right decision?" The thing is as parents you never know! You can just do your best and hope it will all work out.