Our homeschool preschool year has gone pretty well so far. I have noticed over the last couple of weeks though that our rhythm seems to be changing; Sarah (2 yrs) is sleeping less during the day which has meant that Jack (4 yrs) and I often don’t have the one-on-one time that we had at the beginning of the year.
We used to spend this time working on language and math. I have also noticed though that as Jack matures, and his interests in different subjects becomes more in depth, he is incorporating a lot of the language and math that we used to study separately, into his project work. In her book, Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners, Lori talks about this happening and so it has been nice to see Jack really motivated to write, read, create patterns and add as part of his project work.
Over this year I was also finding that as I watched Jack learn so beautifully and naturally by himself that my efforts were better spent providing an environment which inspires him to explore, create and learn; one which has beautiful materials readily accessible for him to engage with; an environment which reflects his current interests with interesting books and materials so he is inspired to play, read, think and learn, rather than me creating activities for him.
So I have been preparing less activities and spending more time observing Jack’s play and making little tweaks to our environment; our playroom, the dining room where our art supplies are kept, and in the yard.
This is what our week looks like now. I don’t use a curriculum, our focus is driven by our interests.
Usually about 9am
- project work
- free play
I will choose two stories (usually related to our project work) and Jack and Sarah will each choose one. We’ll sit outside on a blanket and some floor cushions and read together.
Project work usually goes for about an hour or so. At the beginning of each session I remind Jack what we did last time and ask him what he would like to do this session. I keep a journal where I write observations, any questions Jack has during the session and ideas for the following session. At the end of project work we always make a plan for the next session. Sarah enjoys participating in project work too.
There is always free unstructured play after project work. This is important for Jack as he will often reinforce some of the ideas from his projects into his play.
We prepare morning tea (snack) together and eat outside.
Usually about 11 am
- hands-on work
- play outside
Hands-on work can be anything where Jack and Sarah learn a practical skill; baking, sewing, handiwork, building, that sort of thing. At the moment we are focusing on gardening. We spend this time weeding, planting, pruning; learning about how plants grow and how to care for them.
Jack and Sarah spend the rest of the morning playing outside while I do a little cleaning. I try to spread my cleaning out over the day, that way I’m not stressed in the morning tying to get everything done.
We prepare lunch together.
Usually around 1:30pm
- quiet time
Jack and Sarah spend an hour in their rooms. Sarah will often sleep which Jack reads book and plays quietly.
Usually around 3pm
- playtime together
- play outside
- afternoon walk
We spend sometime playing together. This is usually where I’ll incorporate a little math, language or science using the materials on the playroom shelves.
Jack and Sarah spend time playing outside while I do my final cleaning jobs and start thinking about dinner. We then take a walk around our neighbourhood. We’ll often go in search of numbers or shapes, read street signs and talk about interesting plants and birds. Another simple way to learn naturally.
Fieldtrips & Activities
- We take a fieldtrip once a week
- Jack has sport twice a week (including weekends)
- Jack has horseriding once a fortnight
- Jack and Sarah spend one morning a week with my mum
So this is how our week looks at the moment. I feel like my role has changed a lot over this year, I am becoming more of a quiet mentor; making small changes to our environment and providing opportunities for Jack to manage his own learning. Both he and Sarah now spend a great deal of their days playing freely which I truly love.