A lot of people, when they find out that we are homeschooling, are curious what exactly that looks like…so I figured I’d show you. The beauty of homeschooling is that it can be tailored and tweaked for every family and every child, so what we are doing is probably not ground breaking but it fits our family life. There are literally countless methods, philosophies and resources for homeschooling – some great, some
appalling not so great. I’m not saying ours is the best, I’m saying it’s the best for us right now.
For some ridiculous reason , ever since moving into this house I seemed to think of the front of our fridge as sacred ground. It was absolutely clean, every day. This summer I finally realized the pointlessness of this OCD activity and gave in to the freedom of sticky putty. The white sheets on top is how I keep my life organized, a vertical daytimer of sorts. All the fun colorful stuff, is our system for homeschool preschool.
It came out of necessity more than anything else. It was a way for me to build some structure (not too much) for learning and help both Kade and me from falling into a rut with activities. I also wanted to help him start to understand the flow of our days and weeks, but since a 3 yr old has an attention span of about 15 minutes, I did NOT want to break out a 14 hour day into 15 minute slots – that would have taken our entire hallway, not just the refrigerator door.
Things I needed in our homeschool preschool:
- Flexibility – absolute #1 priority (you never know how long Berlin’s nap will be, or how long errands will take, or what kind of mood Kade will be in)
- Variety – although Kade tends toward a Type A personality like me, preschoolers use every learning style at this stage of the game (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) plus I want to make sure I provide avenues for growth in all areas, not just the ones that come easily to him.
- Accessibility – floating around in my head are all kinds of educational philosophies that I’ve researched, conversations I’ve had with my mom about her homeschooling experience, ideas from other moms, resources on the internet, books I’ve read, etc. I’m so thankful for all the information but when Berlin’s crying and my hands are in soapy water and Kade wants something to do, I need to have access to ideas NOW, not after I go search for a file on my computer.
So this refrigerator mayhem is what I came up with.
There is a column for every day of the week and each color is a type of activity:
- Orange = meals
- Yellow = outdoor activity
- Purple = activity that requires my undivided attention (crafts, reading to him, etc)
- Red = “official” learning activity (games, activity pages, lots of Montessori influence here, etc)
- Blue = quiet activities that he can do on his own (coloring, chalkboard, etc)
- Green = other toys and games
- Pink = activities that he has no “choice” in but still happen (naps, errands, church, park, etc)
The idea is that, at a glance, I can look and see what areas we are lacking in and suggest those activities. Now I can’t possibly list every single toy or game or circumstance that might come up, so these are the common ones and if we do something different that day, I just write on the back of one with a dry erase marker (each card and the white sheet are laminated).
Also, each week or so, we have a particular theme or lesson that we’re working on. For instance, our Thanksgiving week. So the weekend before a new theme, I put together ideas on how to cover it and prep any activities that need forethought so they are ready to go and I don’t have to think about it during the week. For me, the difference between our great weeks and our mediocre ones is planning. I am not good at spontaneous decisions and under the pressure to think of something RIGHT NOW, I cave and draw a blank. So having it already up on the fridge has been a life saver for us.
This system has also been a great way to get Kyle involved. One of Kade’s favorite things to do when dad comes home, is to take him to the fridge and tell him all the things he did that day. Plus then Kyle knows what things Kade has been working on, what lessons he can help review and he gets to enjoy a nightly show’n'tell.
This particular day, Kade was enjoying the chalkboard, practicing his animal drawing skills (no ligers yet). Above is his pig with a big nose and below is a giraffe with a long neck.
Now I realize this system won’t work forever. Eventually he will discover that a 2 hour “nap” card is the same size as a 15 minute “coloring” card. But like I said at the beginning, the beauty of homeschooling is its adaptability. So we’ll change it when we need to, but even so it will be great to have something in place when Berlin is ready for it. Until then, we have lots of Legos.
Although we don’t let Kade use our computers alone yet, we did give him this old keyboard to play with. He took the end table in our living room and made his own desk and then he scoots the table and chair around the house, “plugging in” his computer to various crevices (between the couch cushions, the side rails of a bed – just so long as the end is hidden).
And what does Berlin do when all this “schooling” is happening? She does what any girl would do, she tries on clothes.