I was babysitting my friend's daughter, Arianna, so she got in on homeschooling that day too!
I'm not using a particular curriculum for homeschooling. Ali is only 41/2 and though she is very bright, I didn't feel she was ready for a full-fledged Kindergarten program this year. So, I decided that we will work hard at mastering letters and sounds and basic reading and save the additional Kindergarten subjects for next year, unless she happens to want to fly along at a rapid pace! At some point I may use a curriculum package but not in the first couple of years. Jer enjoys doing the activities too and I just give him easier assignments or help him with the crafts.
My mom is a teacher at a Christian school and has scads of teaching stuff/curriculum from 25 years of teaching Sunday School, homeschooling, loving children's books, etc. Other homeschooling moms who have older kids have given me lots of workbooks and things. Our church uses Funshine Express curriculum for the little kids and each week there is a cute craft project to do and enough materials for about 20 children. Because there are usually less than 20 in the class, the "extras" are unused so a gal at church who sorts through them gave me a ton of these little preschool Bible craft projects, materials are all included! Super easy for me! After a month or two of reviewing letter sounds and learning to write all of the letters we will work through the book "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons."
The schedule below is my "Ideal Homeschooling Day." I know, of course,that life is unpredictable and life with littles includes Dr. visits, last minute field trips, sickness, emergency errands, etc. that can cause this schedule to shuffle around. But this is what we're striving for this week as we begin and this is what will be my goal for this school year:
6:30 Wake up and give Justus his bottle/sippy of milk
6:45 Do planning for the day/devotions while Justus goes back to bed or plays quietly
7:15 Daddy and kids wake up for breakfast
7:30-8:30 Kids get dressed, Mommy showers, everyone picks up the house, makes beds, cleans up breakfast, etc.
Prayer and verses from the Bible
Review what we learned yesterday
Look at the chore chart on the kitchen wall and talking about daily chores/expectations
Go over the alphabet and number charts on the kitchen wall
Color a preschool work-sheet or do a craft
Texture play like rice/beans/cornmeal/shaving cream/paints/playdough, etc.
Read a few stories together
Work on the Bible passage we are memorizing as a family (we're wrapping up 1 Cor. 13 which we've worked on all summer)
Mommy starts working on the dishes while kids are coloring
*Justus is back to taking morning naps (yahoo!) after a couple months of refusing them so he is sleeping during this school time)*
Mommy quickly checks e-mail/facebook, cleans up morning school stuff, preps lunch, switches laundry, handles a phone call, etc. while kids play outside or with toys
10:30-Kids can choose to either play with a play set from the closet, play a game with Mommy (Alphabet Lotto, Memory, Go Fish, etc.) or do some more coloring worksheets
Perhaps a walk on the riverwalk next to our home could be squeezed in here
11:30 Mommy starts prepping lunch, kids play or do chores (they are assigned extra chores when they are naughty)
12:00 Daddy comes home for lunch and plays with the kids afterwards while Mommy cleans up
1:00 I read aloud from The Little House on the Prairie series (we're almost done with Book Two). Boys go down for nap and Ali either lays on the couch or does her Day-of-the-Week activity box and looks at books. Mommy blogs, reads, catches up on bills, does dishes, switches laundry, etc. Did I mention chocolate! *Naptime is Mommy's chance to sneak in a piece of dark chocolate, a microwaved s'more, or a mug of hot cocoa*
3:00 Boys wake up and everyone has a snack
Mommy starts prepping dinner
Playdate, errand, or walk often occurs in late afternoon
While Mommy finishes dinner prep kids can watch a short movie or do a tracing/coloring worksheet at the table
5:30ish--Daddy comes home, we all have supper, then kids wrestle with Daddy
7:00-Kids get ready for bed, Daddy reads a Bible story and prayer, Mommy reads chapter aloud from the Bible and we pray for folks out of our Christmas Card stack
Obviously there is a lot I left out of my day on this barebones schedule! Like rescuing Justus from certain death numerous times, cleaning up the toddler's catastrophes, wiping poopy bottoms, reminding Jer to go potty, sweeping endless crumbs, etc. But this will give you an idea what our day looks like. Because my kids are so little, homeschooling is very flexible, and very easy. There isn't much, if any, prep work or grading and if they are tired and cranky we can keep school shorter and if they are eager to do more, we can work on extra projects.
Fridays are going to be "Fun Days." Ali is taking her first ballet class ever for her Phy Ed. and it's on Friday mornings. We may also swim on Fridays once a month, and on the days we don't swim we will do a playdate, go to the Children's museum, or do a nature thing like a hike, go to the Pumpkin Patch, or throw rocks into the nearby river. Other extras we may try, one at a time: winter swimming lessons, community rec soccer in the spring, weekly library story time.
I don't feel that a kid has to be schooled before they are 5 or 6 and I do believe they need lots of time to just play and explore. But I've also noticed a couple of things about homeschooling:
#1. Having a plan and doing learning activities with my kids makes life go smoother.
When I concentrate on teaching my kids in a set routine they fight less, we have more fun together, and I'm less distracted when I consider my primary job to be teaching them. The more you have to do, the more you tend to get done! Maybe this is why "Lazy Saturday mornings" seem to culminate in a house that looks like a disaster-area and cranky, fighting kids?
#2. Homeschooling tots/preschoolers is EXCELLENT practice and discipline for me in my journey as a homeschooling mom.
Starting with a morning chore routine and an hour of preschool activities today can lay a strong foundation for our family's schedule and discipline tomorrow as we get into habits that we can build upon year after year as the kids begin to study more subjects, and I am teaching multiple grade levels at once. If you are hoping to homeschool eventually, I'd encourage you to prepare for that today, even if that child is just a tiny infant, by growing in your homemaking skills. This is one reason I have been working on getting my Master Meals List done, have gotten all the kid's clothing sorted and organized this summer, have de-cluttered, and have asked my hubby for a dishwasher. Each step you take towards learning to run a home more efficiently will serve you in homeschooling.
One of my goals for this year is to get plugged into the homeschool group in our town and meet some other homeschoolers. I'm also hoping that we can go to the WY state homeschooling conference in May next year as a family.