3 under 5 – homeschooling with 3 crazy kiddos all 5 and under

     Hi! Melissa here! When Valerie mentioned me writing a post about homeschooling with multiple small children at home, I was like “ Yeah, that’s right up my alley,” and then I actually stopped and thought about it. What am I going to write? I don’t think I really have a “how to.” We’re more of a wing it style of family right now. But after sitting down and thinking about it, here is what I came up with –

     As you may remember from our brief intro’s,  I have 3 littles at home with my eldest starting kindergarten this year. He has a late August birthday, so we decided to wait a year with his schooling and start this May, before he turns 6 and before McNeal baby 4 arrives. . (I’m SO glad we made that decision, but more on that another day.) His siblings are 3.5 and almost 2 right now, and we have another bundle due in June! So our days are organized chaos to say the least. No two days really look the same right now, and I’ve learned I have to just roll with it about 90% of the time. I’m sure when we start K in May, we’ll have some better consistency. Or so I hope!! This post will be broken into 2 parts – What we’ve done up until now, and what our plan is for next year, so stay with me!

     For a long time, we only did simple school work during our two young kiddos’ naps. (I should probably note that our school work consists of a few different workbooks right now and doing activities G enjoys.) We would usually do a page or two out of one of our workbooks during morning naps and then read together on the couch in the afternoon. Simple, but effective. Once little sister decided she would be no longer be taking her naps, things got fun. Ahem. Pacifying her with a coloring book was working great until Christmas, but now she wants her own work. I broke down and bought her a little math book that is primarily tracing and simple counting. I scored it for $.50 at our local dollar store, which is great because now when she scribbles or doesn’t do it how I think she should, this control freak mama can breathe. Now we sit at the table together while G man works on more advanced work and she traces her numbers. All of this usually takes place while little brother is asleep in the afternoon. Occasionally I will give little man a piece of paper and some crayons for him to color while G man and sister work out of their books. It’s not perfect as you can tell, but it’s real life and what has worked for us. I’m aiming for them all to learn together after all, so they should all get used to the crazy!

     If I’m honest with you, most of our schooling happens outside of the four walls of our home. We love that because then it can become an entire family affair without major modification. We do lots of nature hikes exploring different types of trees and animal signs, as well as getting lots of “recess,” especially when Daddy is home.

     I’m not entirely sure what our daily schedule will look like next year, but we have planned to start schooling in May of this year with G so we don’t get behind after the baby is born. We plan to school year-round so we don’t feel as pressured to get everything in with so many changes headed our way. Our overall plan is to school roughly 15 days per month with wiggle room here and there. For our curriculum we are piecing together G’s kindergarten curriculum, and for A we will be using God’s Little Explorers at our co-op and at home. It’s a great 3-4’s curriculum that you can find Here .  We used it for G when he was 3 going on 4 in the co-op and it is a great resource! Well written, full of fun activities, and extremely affordable!

     My main advice as a not very seasoned homeschooling mom would be to take it one day at a time and to have realistic expectations. Set up a schedule that you think will work for you, and be open to adjusting it. I’ll be making a post sometime this summer to update on how things are going with new baby and the start of kindergarten, but for now, my overall view of homeschooling with multiple littles would be that it takes a good amount of patience, A LOT of prayer, plenty of forgiveness, and just enough crazy to get through the day! Until next time, wish me luck!

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     What are your tips and tricks for homeschooling multiple kiddos? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

– Melissa

 

Searching for Science

The curriculum fairs have begun again, the homeschooling conferences are in full swing, and couples across the country are debating exactly how much homeschooling should cost them next year. If you’re anything like me, you already have your lists of curriculum, costs, and extracurricular pros and cons set up for the fall.

As a third generation homeschooler, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what homeschooling strategies I liked, which curriculums I wanted to start with, and how I wanted to teach my oldest child – back when he was in preschool.

Now my oldest is about to enter 2nd grade, and after trying ABEKA and Apologia for science I didn’t know where to look next. ABEKA ended up being my boring supplement to library books.  Apologia had a great set up for different-aged kids, but the endless reading was too much to keep all my kids’ interests at their ages. In all fairness, Apologia is meant for 1st-5th graders, and my pre-k and 2/3 year old insisted on being a part of it, even if that meant dancing and singing in the middle of the room while I attempted to read it to my 1st grader. We already spend quiet time doing the first grade reading, so it was hard to make science just about my oldest.

I thought that my teaching style was “buy whatever curriculum for each subject and then finish it in a year.” Science was eluding me though. My firstborn craves hands-on experiments (I dread planning the grocery shopping/online shopping for those experiments), my almost kindergartener loves worksheets, and all three of my kids like books full of pictures (or even better, youtube videos on different subjects). I want to do science together with all of my kids because trying to keep the younger two out of it is harder than just adjusting to them being a part of it!

I asked my husband for some advice since he had been homeschooled as well, and he basically said, “Don’t use a textbook; I rarely did.”

My first thought was “Excuse me, no. I do not un-school or do Charlotte Mason – I want someone else doing the organizing and putting it together!” Then I stopped and thought about it:

  • I had basically been putting my own science stuff together for years by getting books from the library to make science more interesting to the kids anyway.
  • I also have an entire cabinet of books on different science topics I got from my mom (the benefits of being a 3rd generation homeschooler).
  • I’d already bought a huge book on easy experiments that we could do without buying weird extra items we’d never use again.
  • Pinterest is alive and strong, filled with worksheets for homeschoolers (as I’ve learned from planning curriculums for our homeschool co-op).
  • Youtube is also filled with plenty of Magic School bus and Bill Nye clips to go with any topic I wanted.

So I wrote out my plan using my cabinet of books and the internet, and now we are covering a variety of topics next year, including weather, plants, biology, chemistry, and physics. For every week I have books, an experiment, possibly a worksheet, and a youtube video… because despite my hatred of technology it really helps my kids understand stuff.

Now I think I’m happy with my curriculum plan again – Sing, Spell, Read and Write, Math-u-See, Life of Fred, Story of the World, Intro to Spanish, and Science… created by me.

Here’s to hoping it works!

– Charity

Contributing Member Introductions

Hello, and welcome to the Honeybee Christian Co-op blog! Here we will post about co-op, our faith, homeschooling, parenting, and just whatever is on our hearts. We can’t wait to share all the fun and craziness that comes with homeschooling our crew! Here is a quick introduction of our contributing members!

Hello! My name ispulk49 Valerie,  and I am a catholic homeschooling mom of 2. I have an energetic 5-year-old boy and a sweet little 6-month-old girl. Giving birth within a week of starting our first official year of homeschooling has made things interesting, but we are so very blessed. In my “free”/me time I enjoy sewing, crafting, reading, watching Netflix, and all things Harry Potter. I’ve been married to my husband, Stephen, for 7 years now. As a family, we enjoy spending time outdoors, going to concerts, and just getting together with family and friends. My son has high functioning autism, so you will occasionally see me post about ASD or special needs topics. Our homeschooling style is very eclectic. We pull from Charlotte Mason, Reggio, Montessori, and Unit Study methods. The biggest thing I have taken away from our first year official year of schooling is that my son will learn things when he is ready, and trying to rush him will only cause both of us frustration.  I look forward to sharing our journey with you!

I’m Charity and I’m mom of 3 kids. They range from 1st grade down to 3 years old so I’m
charityconstantly balancing teaching different grades, keeping up with the house, and getting as much social time as we all love! I have been married for over 8 years and my husband and I were both homeschooled so to us the easiest choice at this point is to homeschool – but we know that any year that could change for any of our three kids. We moved here from out of state 2 years ago and from the beginning, Honeybee Christian Co-op has been our most profound circle of friends. I have learned so much from seeing the different teaching styles of other moms and having this close group of friends for my husband, kids and I to bounce ideas off of, encourage, and pray for. I live for playdates and love visiting playgrounds, libraries, or hosting random playdates at my house. I studied Marketing in college and sometimes do some small marketing jobs from home but most of my time is spent in keeping up with my kids and hanging out with friends at playdates.

Hi! I’m Melissa, wife, and Mama to 3, almost 4, littles. Ages 5,3,2 and one coming in June! Needless to say, our arms are full, but our hearts even more so! I had 0 intentions of homeschooling our kmelissaiddos, but the Lord has used countless ways to open my eyes and more importantly my heart to educating our children. I would say when it comes to homeschool style we are an eclectic family because Mama can’t seem to settle on any one idea or style. Ha! We love to learn through play and exploring the world around us. We love trying new things and meeting new people from all walks of life. I spend most of my time with my little family, but also enjoy studying God’s word, being an active member of my church’s women’s group, spending time with friends, all things crafty and supplementing our family budget with my small photography business. I’m looking forward to sharing about our experiences in homeschooling and hope they will help to encourage others, because if the Lord can equip me to do this, He can equip anyone!!!

Hello! I’m Katie, and I have four sweet little munchkins: triplet daughters who are six 6B382F4F-9D36-41CE-AF8B-5267D1884F03and one three-year-old son. I was homeschooled through high school graduation; my husband Jonathan was homeschooled for several years, as well. We passionately believe that home education is not simply something you can fall back on when running from other options; rather, home education offers so much to families, it is a choice to run toward! We love homeschooling for far too many reasons to list in a short paragraph, but I look forward to sharing some of those reasons with you in my posts! Our own homeschool, with three children finishing first grade and another entering preschool, is an eclectic blend of several styles, but overall, we lean toward the Charlotte Mason method. Our family is very social and we greatly enjoy getting together with friends. I love being with my family and most of my interests flow out of that. I am passionate about quality children’s literature!! I also enjoy reading, writing, hiking with my little family, and encouraging others with the truth of God’s Word. I’m excited about being part of this blog and I hope you are encouraged by it!

30264629_10103714902822104_4075783883545640960_oKaitlin is a homeschooling mama and part-time speech therapist and autism researcher. She and her husband Ted, the fisheries biologist, have four children ages 7 and under. Neither of them were homeschooled or had any experience with homeschoolers growing up, but knew early on in their dating relationship that it was the plan God had for their family. Homeschooling in these early years consists of morning prayers and Bible readings, nature hikes and outdoor adventures, lots of family read alouds, and occasionally a math or phonics lesson. She loves Charlotte Mason, audiobooks, and firmly believes that Cindy Rollins is correct and “reading aloud and narration cover a multitude of sins.”

Hope you enjoyed getting to know us a little better!