Reblog: Homeschool SOS

If you are panicking about school starting, if your rhythm is non-existent, if you haven’t planned one single thing for next year, if you have just made a last-minute decision to homeschool, take a breath. I promise you, this is a foolproof plan for getting started.

#1 Go for a walk in the morning. This is a great way to start the day. It gets everybody’s ya-yas out, and doing it every day after breakfast will begin to shape your rhythm. Just get outside. Don’t have it be a nature lesson or a historical walking tour. It’s fine if these things casually come up, but just get everyone out of the house and walking. Walk for as long as you can, building up to an hour if you have nothing else planned for the morning. When I first started walking with my boys, they were nice and tired when we came home. I gave them a snack, and found myself with some free time where I could do some planning. Usually I had a lot of ideas generated on the walk – getting them down on paper was a step in the right direction.

OK, after you’re walking consistently for about a week . . .

#2 Have afternoon storytime. I have written a lot about storytime. If you get a basket, put some really good books in it, and read to your children every afternoon, you are doing something great. Depending on the ages of your children, walking and reading could be enough.** Or perhaps, enough for a good long while, and then enough to build upon. If you are uncomfortable reading aloud, start with audio books. My advice is to go for the classics – these books have stood the test of time for a reason. You can take a look at our reading lists here.

There, if you are walking in the morning and having storytime in the afternoon, you have 2 anchor points during your day. Bonus points can be added if you have predictable mealtimes. Again if your children are little, especially if your oldest is under 7 or 8, relax. You’re doing enough** – or at least enough to buy yourself some time to get a solid plan together. However, if your children are older, and you want to do more . . .

#3 Do some math. I’m not talking about researching every math curriculum out there and spending a lot of money. Math can be baking. Math can be playing games. Math can be playing cards. Math can be skip counting, times tables with beanbags, baseball stats, football scores. I have some cheap and easy math ideas in this post and this post. The idea is just to begin introducing math into your homeschooling day. See how your children learn. See what they like. My favorite resource for beginning with Waldorf math is Melisa Nielsen’s math book. It is simple, yet thorough, and not expensive.

OK, you can feel good about getting some math in. And now, last but not least . . .

#4 Recite some poetry. This could be nursery rhymes, tongue twisters, seasonal verses. This could be simple songs. Interacting with language orally promotes literacy on so many levels. Check out a book of poetry from the library, and read it together. Pick a poem to memorize. If you really want to impress your kids, memorize “The Jabberwock” by Lewis Carroll and recite it to them one morning after your walk. Donna Simmons suggests this in her book Living Language, and it is a sure fire way to generate some enthusiasm around poetry.

Do these four things consistently for 3-4 days a week with your children, and you are really doing big things!! Add a baking day. Add a library day. You’re doing it. You’re homeschooling. You’re starting a rhythm. Congratulations!!

**Obviously you need to check the homeschooling regulations for your particular state, as they vary widely. However, my advice – no matter what rules need to be followed – would be to start slow and to start small. Build a solid foundation and move on from there.

17 thoughts on “Reblog: Homeschool SOS

  1. Our Western Adventure is drawing to a close in the next couple of weeks and, as Home draws nearer and the beginning of “not unschooling” comes closer, I’m glad for your reassuring reminders that much of what we do just because of who we are is a very firm foundation. Thanks xoxo

  2. ack! thank you so much for writing this! so i just scared myself to death the other day reading other peoples blogs of all the amazing things they do for first grade…as i start our first “real” homeschool year with our 6 yr old…no, its not our first year. all the things you describe here we were doing regularly this past winter and spring…but with 6 upon us i now feel like i need to be “real” you know? i have a plan in mind but i feel this need to “plan” and get it all “figured out.” i needed to hear this post, that its okay to ease into it, build it up, work it out as the year moves along. THANKS!

    • Hey Sara,
      I didn’t start formal homeschooling with my oldest until he was 8 1/2. That was also when I discovered Waldorf. I wished I knew about stuff like rhythm and the importance of work and movement before then, but hindsight, you know . . . Glad this post spoke to you, and I’m glad you’re here.

  3. Love this post! Thank you :-) I have been doing something similar, but I think I am putting too much pressure on my son. The other day he said “if you don’t teach me how to read, I want to go to real school!” So I tried to start teaching him, and now he gets all mad when it’s time to work on reading. So I’m going to back off. I just fluctuate so much between feeling like I’m not doing enough, to feeling like I’m doing too much. This post makes me feel better. Would you email me, or maybe post some of the chapter books you felt were good for the boys? Isaiah really liked Treasure Island, Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Dr Doolittle, My Father’s Dragon, The Children of Noisy Village……
    I would love some more suggestions!
    Thanks for everything!

    • You can find all our reading lists here. (They are listed under “reading lists” on the menu under the photo at the top of my blog.) Some of Jude’s favorites have been the original Winnie the Pooh, The Raggedy Ann and Andy series (huge hit), Paddington, the Ramona books, Pippi Longstocking, Stuart Little, Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

      I think it is hard to find the right balance, but at 7 I think they need to play and be outside more than anything. I didn’t start formal academics with my older son until he was 8 1/2. I use main lesson for Jude more as an anchor for our rhythm than anything else. For me, the repetition of doing something everyday is more important than what we actually do.

      HTH,
      Sheila

  4. I thought this was a wonderful post the first time and I continue to think so — even more!

    I just realized that the last time I commented on this post was exactly one year ago today. Our year of “not unschooling” went and is going swimmingly and I’m so glad to have shared our year with you xoxo

  5. Thanks for re-posting this. Although my current work schedule makes the lengthy morning walk together not possible, S is walking the dog himself each day which is good. Also he is in charge of feeding chickens, dog, and cat each morning so that kind of sets the rhythm after breakfast bc they get really loud if they aren’t fed by 8 AM:) I love the spirit of this post, and have gone back over the notes you sent me on planning…it is helpful. The same concept as in the classroom…big picture and then fill in details, seemed more daunting with so many subject areas. But I am sticking to the idea of rhythm, and depth instead of just breadth.

    • You know what Jean Miller would say, “Go deep, not wide.” I know that just makes your 4-soul sing.

      You guys are going to have a great year.

      Actually, I’m scrapping the walk this year. I’ll tell you more about when I post our rhythm for the year.

      So excited to be on this journey with you, my friend.

    • Hey Emmie,
      I thought this might be helpful for you. Jean and Alison gave this rhythm of a lesson for middle school – might be applicable in your situation too.

      1. Informal check-in (check on work in progress; see how they are doing)
      2. 10 minutes of exercise (running around the block; shooting hoops; whatever it takes to get the blood flowing)
      3. Review of yesterday’s material
      4. Presentation of new material
      5. Something artistic to go along with new material

      Also they gave advice to mix it up. Change locations; go into a different room; move around; work individually then work together. Keep it active!!

  6. Thank you, this just what I needed. I took the decision to home educate a week ago – the boys have had a week off for half term and I have been doing lots of research in between our activities and catching up with friends. I have nothing in place and was starting to panic – no structure – a head full of information and ideas – how do I get them motivated etc etc, but I think we just need some time to readjust and slow down to the pace of life, build from the bottom up, one step at a time, no rush, no urgency, no pressure – just natural learning not forced. Looking forward to our new adventure!

  7. I love this. Even though this is an old post, even though its mid school year, even though I’ve been homeschooling for nine years. This is just what I needed to hear. :)

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