Yup, Ivelina started her first year of home school today, August 25th. I have really enjoyed getting everything set up for her and getting her curriculum ready to go! I've been talking with her about "school" and showing her some of her supplies but I didn't think she would quite get it until today. The day went pretty well according to Jeremy. We started small and easy and will work our way up to a longer school day as she gets used to it.
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The decision to home school was an easy choice for us. Ivelina is eight years old, and if we tried to enroll her in public schools, she would be placed in a 3rd grade classroom most likely. I have taught 3rd grade before, and I know 3rd is not what she needs right now. We both decided that she needs to be at home around her closest family members learning English and working on developing at her own pace. I can't imagine her being dropped off at school with no one who can understand her and thrown immediately into standardized testing world. My husband was home schooled and speaks highly of the beauty of home schooling. I have been following several home school blogs for years now, and I have learned a lot from others about how unique and helpful home school can be. We don't know if this is something we will stick with forever, but we plan on reevaluating next summer. At that time, we will decide if we want to continue home school or try Ivie in a different type of school setting. I know not every family has this option of home schooling, and it's not the right fit for every child, but God has blessed us with unique schedules that will hopefully allow it to work for us.
I decided to purchase Letter of the Week curriculum from Erica @ confessionsofahomeschooler.com. She creates her own curriculum. This set is geared toward Pre-K students. I purchased it for a very low cost, and then take what I need to Staples to be printed off for us to use. I liked this particular curriculum because it is exactly what Ivie needs: letters, numbers, counting, colors, and motor skills. Simple and fun! Each week there is a theme that goes along with the letter of the week. I am not planning on doing the letters in order because the themes will work best at varying times of the year. For example, we are doing all the letters whose themes pertain to animals first so that we can take a field trip to the zoo in September! I am also trying a free trial month of abcmouse.com. If she loves it and if she is learning from it, we plan to use it for our computer time. Of course, I am throwing in a few of my own ideas and activities into the mix as well. Since I have a background in teaching elementary school, planning activities is fun for me!
Our school "room":
We don't really have the space to have an entire room devoted to school, but we have dedicated part of our kitchen to home school. We plan on using the back of our garage door shown in the photo to display some of Ivelina's work as well as posters when we need to.
This is Ivelina's desk. My sister picked this up for us for just $5! Ivie can choose whether she wants to work at the kitchen table or at her desk each day. Choices work well for her.
Beside her desk is her work box. I was looking for the perfect set of drawers (on wheels preferably), but I never found what I wanted at a decent price. So I bought three sets of 3 office drawers and stacked them. It cost less than $30 and I think it will work fine for us. Plus, the organizer on top is great for Ivie to keep her pencils, erasers, and glue sticks neat. Her daily activities will be placed in the drawers in the order I want her to complete them. Jeremy said that by the end of the day today, she was finally beginning to understand the concept of the work boxes. To me, it is a very visual way for her to understand how much work she has done and how much she still needs to complete before school is over for the day.
We also purchased a magnetic white board. Ours is only 2x3 ft. but it is just the right height for Ivelina to write on. It had a little ding on the corner, so I asked for a discount and got it at a great price!
Our back door is metal, so we can use it for a variety of (magnetic) purposes. Right now, I am going to try to build a calendar center on this door for Ivelina. I used to have gobs of great calendar stuff, but I got rid of it all when I stopped teaching full-time. I am looking for good deals on calendar items and plan on adding new features to this door as the school year progresses. Right now I only have magnetic weather signs ready, but we will add more features soon.
Of course, we had to have space to store all my "teacher stuff." When I quit teaching full-time, Jeremy installed these shelves for me in our garage. They hold all of my children's literature. There is a shelf with buckets of supplies like crayons, markers, and glue sticks. I have a one tub of literacy materials, one tub of math stuff, and one tub of science goodies + other random goodies. Then I have another small shelf with boxes of craft supplies. It's perfect because this wall of school stuff is right through our garage door and we can easily access it from Ivie's school space.
I am going to be responsible for all of the planning, prepping materials, and record keeping. Jeremy is going to be handling most of the execution M-Th. I will teach on Fridays.
I start the morning with morning routine, breakfast, and a Bible story from The Jesus Storybook Bible.
After Bible time, we will do our calendar activities and then move on to the work boxes. I will have to leave for work at around this time M-Th, so Jeremy will be taking over for work box time. We will focus on one letter each week. Each drawer will a have letter, math, reading, science, or motor skill activity that needs to be completed. Many of the activities for each letter will be super fun for Ivelina; they involved food and computer time and books on CD. Some of the activities I suspect she will resist at first: counting and puzzles. So, I will make sure to mix it up where she has some high interest and some not so high interest things to do every day. Some activities will be repeated throughout the week. Some will just be completed once. Once she finishes all the assignments in each drawer, she will be done for the day.
We will also have speech therapy appointments throughout the week too. There may be other therapies and medical appointments added in as we go, but we are hoping to schedule most of those for the afternoons. The beauty of home schooling is that we can be flexible and make these appointments without having to worry about Miss Ivie missing precious school time.
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I was so worried when I left this morning that Ivie would pitch a fit for Jeremy once she realized she could not play with her stuffed animals and blocks all morning. She asked about them a few times, but overall she did well for Jeremy. Later when school was over she was pretending to be the teacher for her stuffed animals. (sweet!) Before nap time, she kissed Jeremy and told him she loved him and wanted to do school again tomorrow. (double sweet!)
I am SO excited to see Ivelina learn. She has such a curious mind, and she is picking up on things so quickly....especially language...and medical stuff. I think with the time and attention we will be giving her she will thrive! That's my prayer at least.
Thanks for reading,