Homeschool

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As we embark on our second year of homeschooling I have been looking forward to the new year ahead, whilst taking a moment to digest all that we accomplished last year. I feel pretty lucky to get to spend my days with these two little monkeys and can’t believe how quickly the days together go by. I have spent a little time this week getting our schoolroom in order and Maya started working on the covers of her new work books.

While our school days hold hours of self-directed learning and free play, we also manage to do a lot of ‘work’ in what seem like a short amount of time. I realised pretty quickly that a couple of hours a day of school work can produce meaningful learning and that combined with lots of excursions and getting together with friends (Like below in the longhouse our homeschool friends Lisa & Family made in the woods) makes for a nice life. Learning experience really are everywhere!

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One of the best things about homeschooling besides being together, is that we do not rush. We have such slow days. Days in pajamas, and days just of drawing. Days of playing in the woods, days of reading, and days of adventure to amazing places.

Once again I will model our studies on what and how I learnt at school as a child, combined with the children’s interests. We start each day with reading, writing and arithmetic, and then proceed into either environmental, history or geography studies, craft or art. This year Elle is of kindergarten age and she will be more involved in formal lessons. Along with the basics Elle is going to work on an animal book, and study animals (her choice).

As Maya is entering 3rd grade, we are adding more focus to traditional themes of geography and history studies, along with the topic we are most excited about, the human body (her choice). Maya is a great student and I love that we can take time to do things with lots of effort and detail. Each of Maya’s lesson books is a work of art. I am a proud Mama. If you ever come over to our house, I will run and get her books to show you! The girls books become keepsakes (instead of stuffing for the recycling bin). I just can’t wait until she starts working inside her human body book!

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I feel we did a good job last year, but I also feel like the children were able to play more than they had been made to work, so this was a win for me and them. Play is so very important for children. Free play, and hours of it. I don’t want my day filled with directing the girls from one task to the next. You will hear me say…”I need to work on my thing, so you go and work on your thing” I do not care what their thing is, they just have to have something that is a spark inside. I want them to do what they want to do and have self-directed interests that they give their attention to whole heartedly, which for them is play. Self directed imaginative lay makes for self directed creative adults. I feel fortunate that the girl’s play is rich, that they have each other, and that we have sweet home school friends to play with too.

This year we will be adding more household responsibility into their day was well. Good old chores!  Folding the washing, doing the dishes, sweeping and cooking.

I have included in a gallery below some of the school work ( 7yr old ) Maya did last year. We do not follow a curriculum, I make up the work as we go along and we generally work in small blocks. For example, a block about pollinators or a block about shelter. I research on-line and use the local library to source age appropriate reference books. I base our studies roughly on what the average child of the same age is learning for standardized maths and english testing and supplement this with Waldorf (Steiner) philosophies and ideas. I ask the girls what they want to study and I also dive into themes purely because I am interested myself or I need to study it for my work purposes. I love how I learn right along with them and our interests are interwoven. We have studied things from the nitrogen cycle through to Marie Antoinette … and many things in between. This year we will likely re-study and build upon a lot of the things we did last year. Some of which I think are particularity important for this day and age, like the carbon cycle. Every child and adult in the world need to have a firm understanding of this.

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My personal preference is that we do lesson from scratch by hand, writing and illustrating it all the old-fashioned¬†way, as I did as a child, and so I do not generally use commercial activity workbooks. I adore Maya’s illustrations and depending on what it is that needs to be drawn, if she can not just draw from her mind, I will set her up with an image from either a library book or from the computer to use as reference.

I find that by writing out Maya’s maths each day (sometimes she makes up her own maths, and writes out her own problems), and setting her english and grammar tasks, I can tailor them to our life personally and make things relative to us, which makes the learning closer to our heart, and us more present with it.

For example here is a Maths problem I might write for her: “Maya wants to buy a dollhouse from Acorn toy Store in Brooklyn. The dollhouse cost $150. Maya has $23 in savings only. Mum and Dad said they would give her $5 for ever hour of reading she would do (Maya needs to embrace reading). How much money does Maya need to raise, and how many hours of reading would this involve to reach her goal?

This in fact is a real life scenario, so it has purpose. Maya likes it if she has reason to work out an equation, and I enjoy doing these things with her. Maths can be really fun, I truly enjoy maths and geometry…who does not find spirals interesting? We love that for the next few months the girls are both fib numbers (5, 8). We decided that because this is so, it is a special time for us. The magic of Fibonacci!

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At the end of this month, September 19 -21st, I will be speaking at Wild & Free, a homeschool conference in Virginia Beach. I will be talking a little about why we chose to homeschool, and more in depth about our methods of home school and how I balance life while working, and taking care of our home. There is still time to register if you are interested in attending Wild & Free.

 

19 thoughts on “Homeschool

  1. This is very inspiring Kirsten, you’ve done so well to teach your children in a homeschool setting. The illustrations that Maya has included in her workbooks are really very beautiful and show a creativity beyond her 7 years. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Kirsten!
    This is also our second year of homeschooling and I have two girls myself (6 and 8, 2nd and 3rd graders). I really enjoyed this post and would like to know what kind of journal notebooks you are using. I’ve struggled to keep my children’s work together and this is such a great solution and of course, a wonderful keepsake. My eldest would be excited to do something similar for all her learning this year.

    Thanks!!!
    Bernadette

  3. Kirsten, you regularly inspire me with the beauty you and your girls create. This took my breath away. What a gifted education you are providing for your children! I can’t wait to learn from you and hear more of your processes later this month. thank you for sharing this. x

  4. I just want you to know: I have been about 98% sure I am going to homeschool my daughter next year and this blog post pushed me over the edge. I’m so excited. The workbooks in particular really struck me–they are incredible!!!! My husband’s first thought on her work was Leonardo DaVinci. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  5. Hello Aimee, Thank you for your kind comment, truly, I read it to Maya and it made her day. I am so happy that we helped make you feel good about homeschooling. Keep the spirit alive! Kirsten x

  6. Hello Bethany,
    Thank you so much, I cant wait to see you, hear you speak, and be guided by your wisdom too. We are lucky mothers! Counting down the days! Kirsten x

  7. Hello Bernadette,
    These workbooks are really great. They are called Strathmore Story Drawing Books. I get them off Amazon. I usually buy a few at a time. They are truly super for our style/age. Enjoy! Kirsten x

  8. Dear Kirsten,

    I am a 17 year young girl and your blog has inspired me tremendously! Your family is so lovely and refreshing. This post especially has finally encouraged me that when it is my time to have a family of my own, that homeschooling is key. I’ve grown up always wanting to be an artist and never really had the room in public classrooms to express myself since the school systems were crucial about textbooks. The way you educate your girls about everyday situations and surroundings with maths and nature is wonderfully brilliant! Not only are they actually experiencing those things, but they are learning it. I currently live in Los Angeles but my dream is to move to the East Coast because of the seasons and once I finish school at the National Gourmet Institute in New York, I feel like it’ll be ideal to start a family there. Your girls are oh so very lucky to have an inspiring woman and mother in their lives and I hope that someday I can have the aesthetics and wisdom like you. I read somewhere that your family is vegetarian and I was wondering if you have any advice or a blog post (if you wrote about it already) talking about how you raise your girls being vegetarian and such. I’ve been a vegetarian/pescetarian for 7 years now and going to school for the vegetarian/vegan diet and I want to raise my children with the diet that I believe is important but I don’t want to force them. Do you let your girls choose? I imagine there to be little struggle because of homeschooling and they are always surrounded by nature.

    Thank you all for sharing your intriguing, lovely lives with all of us. You girls are so inspiring to me! I am looking forward to seeing more beautiful artwork!

    – Janey xx

  9. so wonderful, I think you must be a very gifted teacher Kirsten, such an incredibly beautiful journal Maya

  10. This is an incredible post, Kirsten. So much goodness here for the homeschooling mom and child! Thank you for sharing. I admire your homeschooling ways so much, and truly look forward to what you will be bringing to the Wild + Free conference.

  11. Thank you so much Kirsty, I don’t know that I am a gifted teacher, just easily inspired and driven perhaps! Thank you! Kxo

  12. Thank you so much Ainsley, I am really excited to present, it will be such a fun weekend. Thanks for reading! Kirsten xo

  13. Hi Janey, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, It sounds like you have a bright exciting future ahead! My girls like being vegetarian. They have both tried fish and while Maya thinks it is ok, Elle does not like it. They can eat meant if they want, but since we vegetarians, they don’t want to. They all all sorts of wonderful food and have a great diverse diet.
    Warmly,
    Kirsten

  14. Hi, I met you at the Wild and Free conference. I was sitting in one of the rocking chairs on Saturday afternoon. :)

    I so enjoyed reading this post and seeing the notebooks and finding out even more about your homeschooling methods. As a writer and an artist I love this method of learning. It was largely the way I learned too (I was homeschooled all 12 years as a student). I hope to involve my kids in doing more art this year and in the future years.

    I worked for an art museum as a graphic artist and have also worked as a photographer. Now my work is mainly writing. I’d love to hear more about how you balance life and teaching with your own work from home too sometime.

  15. Hello Kirsten, I have just stumbled across your website via instagram and I wanted to tell you how glad I am that I did. I am a homeschooling mum of two little girls aged 5 and 2 and periodically I feel like I lose my way a little and start questioning ability to educate them at home. But this post just was so inspiring and encouraging, I feel as if you have reaffirmed for me why I initially chose this lifestyle for our family and gotten my creative juices flowing again. I’m going to try your workbook method as currently all our work is in bits all over the place. Thanks so much for sharing x

  16. Thank you so much! I really appreciate you comment! wishing you all the best on your journey with homeschooling.

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