Memoirs of a Homeschooling Hot Mess

Guys, listen. I’m not perfect. No where near perfect. My kids live for gushers, we regularly order pizza for dinner, and sometimes I allow YouTube to act as my babysitter. At this moment, I am wearing the trendiest of mom-chic couture: an oversized target sweatshirt, leggings that should have been replaced months ago, and my unwashed hair is rocking a traditional mom bun. So, please, PLEASE, don’t take this post as a pretentious “look-at-me-I’m-winning-quarantine” cry for attention.

I’ve simply found what works for us, and I want to share it in case you find that these same ideas and tools will work for your family too.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s that these kiddies cannot be expected to sit through a few hours straight of learning activities no matter how fun I think I’m making it. Their explorative minds want to play, build, and create. Consider breaking up your “school day” into short 15-30 minute segments that you can work in throughout your day without it feeling so school-like. I also want to point out THIS IS NOT what every single day looks like! 3-4 days per week? Probably. But some days, the kids spend their day on their iPads. I call it balance. I call it survival.

Without further adieu, a sample day in the life of this homeschooling hot mess. And remember, each of these numbered segments are broken up and introduced sporadically throughout our day.

1. Letter Recognition

For this example, I’ll be focusing on the letter D. We begin by looking at a flashcard of the letter in both capital and lowercase form. I’ll say the letter, and ask them to repeat it back to me. We will make the D-D-D sound together and think of words that make the D sound too. Then I will tell a story that I typically make up quickly on the spot, or sometimes find from a simple google search. The story will all be based around the letter D sound.

Daisy the dog loved to dance with her dad daily. Daisy did not love to dance in the dark. She and her dad would disco downtown.

While telling these short simple stories, I will hold up a photo of a puppy or other character to help put a “face” to the subject of our story. I always do my best to really emphasize the beginning D sound on each word.

Next, I breakout my laptop and head straight to YouTube. We are HUGE ABC Mouse fans in our house and they have all of their alphabet letter songs loaded to YouTube for free watching! This is typically easier and quicker to access compared to pulling up the app and searching through music videos. You can check it out here.

The last thing we do for our letter recognition segment of our day is a worksheet. I know, I know, worksheets are almost a taboo topic in our day in age. But I have personally found that as long as I’m working through it with my kids, it serves it’s purpose of driving home the message. I’ve mentioned before that I get a ton of my free resources here. But for this particular day, I used the worksheet pictured below. I’ve made it as simple as a click to save it for yourself!

2. Arts & Crafts

After taking a break and allowing the kids to build, play, and get their wiggles out– okay you caught me, sometimes they’re just watching TV– we move on to some sort of craft. This is typically late morning for us. I actually really love crafting with my kids! And it’s even better when I can relate it to both our letter of the day AND science! For this particular day, we were able to do just that.

If you haven’t already noticed, it’s the time of year that dandelions are everywhere. We headed outside for this one, and picked a handful of these weeds disguised as flowers. While we were picking them, I pointed out the “wish flowers” too. My kids were completely blown away by the fact that it is actually the same flower! We made wishes while I closely pointed out the tiny seeds that we were blowing through the air. Circle of life. BOOM, science. You bet your arse we watched Lion King that night too.

We took our handful of our freshly picked weeds inside to complete our craft. All it took was black construction paper, green, white, and yellow paint, and a potato scrubber (I literally have no idea what this instrument is actually called, but I personally use it to scrub dirt off of potatoes). We used our dandelions as paint brushes by dipping them into the yellow paint and dabbing them onto the paper. Next we used our scrubber to create the wish version of the dandelion. The kids then finger painted a green stem onto each flower. This was super cute & simple, and again was just a great way to drive home another message we had just learned about- all while still focusing on the letter D!

3. Preschool Math

After our craft, it’s typically just about time for lunch. Once lunch is done and cleaned up, we always have “quiet time.” This is one of my favorite times of the day if it goes as planned. Not only is it necessary for the livelihood of my business, I literally NEED those two hours of peace for my own sanity.

Once quiet time is done (around 2 or so) we try to incorporate some simple math and number recognition. I try not to be as structured as I am with letter recognition during this time. I keep things light and do my best to turn number practice into a game most days.

We begin most math segments the same, with a 1-20 “Number Hunt.” This is honestly a game that I came up with on a whim one afternoon. I have numbers 1-20 printed largely on neon printer paper and most afternoons I’ll scatter them out on the floor. I go back & forth between Jax & Reese asking them to “hunt” for the next number in our line up.

To incorporate our letter “D” dandelions back in, we sat for a few minutes doing our version of “addition”. I try to make sure not to make it sounds too much like we’re doing school work. Instead, I’ll ask the question as, “If I have 4 dandelions over here, and 3 dandelions over here, how many dandelions do I have when I put all together?” Both of my toddlers have slightly competitive spirits and work so hard to answer before the other! This is such a fun and simple way to introduce a concept that is honestly beyond their years. I believe that this basic understanding will help serve them down the road when their *real* teachers begin to teach them addition and subtraction.

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