Preschool Homeschool: Our days

Reggio-inspired and project-based homeschoolingOur 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.

Reggio-inspired and project-based homeschooling Reggio-inspired and project-based homeschoolingOur Preschool Homeschool Weekly Rhythm

Morning:

Usually about 9am

  • stories
  • 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.

Mid-morning

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.

Afternoon

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.

Mid-afternoon

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

Reggio-inspired and project-based homeschoolingSo 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.

The photos are from today’s project session. Jack has a developing interest in houses and buildings. Today he used Artline markers to draw our house. Later this afternoon, he extended on this session with some blocks.

23 Replies to “Preschool Homeschool: Our days”

  1. Alison Wells says:

    Lovely to see how your day is planned out…thank you for sharing that….

  2. This is a really interesting and inspiring post! We are planning to do preschool homeschool and then let the kids go to school at 7 yrs old like everyone else. For the past year my 4-year-old has been going to this playgroup twice a week for three hours at a time and he’s supposed to go three times now but he has completely refused to go and while I forced/manipulated him to go a couple of times, he is now at home with me and his 1-year-old brother. We could use a steady rhythm like yours but the little one is the tricky one there! How old was Sarah when you could really have her participate in the activities? I feel like right now all my attention goes to the little bro climbing everywhere and messing the older one’s work, it’s so frustrating 🙁

  3. lovely to see how you incorporate some sense of routine with child initiated learning. I’m working on a similar routine for my girls but not quite there yet.

  4. I love this so much! What a beautiful way to spend your days 🙂

  5. Lovely to read about how your rhythm has evolved, inspiring as always 🙂

  6. Lovely post, it’s really interesting to see how your days have changed. I’ve had a post about our days sitting in my drafts for ages – every time i go to publish it, our routine shifts! Writing it down helps to reflect on what you’re doing though, I find. This is really useful for me to get ideas about how to do things at home – it’s entirely different from a classroom environment which is what I’m used to. If I’m not focused on the children all the time I feel weird – which I’m finally realising is neither necessary nor desirable!

    I love that you’ve used a rainbow crayon to write some of your notes – I take it that was a ‘grab whatever writing implement is available’ moment?! That’s a proper working document!! I think I might try this way – I’ve been writing things on post-it notes and then losing half of them…

    It’s interesting to see how Jack’s project work is developing – you can really see him starting to ‘take the reins’ as he gets older.

    Can I ask – what do you do with your free morning? Do you use it for planning / blogging / housework? Or do you go back to bed?! 😉 I think I’d be tempted!! 🙂

  7. I just adore this time line. it has encouraged me to add more of a structure in a sense to my routine at home with little f. there may be too much play at the park, coffee with friends occurring at my home compared with life with my first who is now at full time schooling.

    1. There can never be too much play at the park 🙂 How old is Little F now…? Not too much older than Sarah, isn’t he? Play is always always a very good thing 🙂

  8. I like that you plan your next session as part of the conclusion of each project session. I find I have an idea, but I don’t want to explain it to JJ until after I’ve set it up, but she sees me setting it up and tries to join in and “ruins” my idea. I need to either a) plan better to I can set up while she’s not there or b) communicate my ideas (and incorporate her own) before I start. Something I need to work on. And I’m so jealous that Jack gets to go horse-riding! My little miss would love this. (As would I, if I’m honest!).

    1. Jack loves horseriding. Loves it! He learns all about how to care for the horse as well as how to ride. Making a plan at the end of each session really helps to keep motivations high and the project rolling. I would really recommend it. You could talk with JJ and ask her what she would like to explore next time and then follow through with her ideas. Often Jack’s ideas are very simple like draw the neighbours’ house but this is his project and although I could probably come up with something fancier, he will get the most out of being supported to follow his own interests.

  9. i read this post earlier in the week Kate but didn’t have a chance to comment. Loved it and so enjoyed reading about your days and how you all spend your time. Must say you sound a lot calmer than our household!

    1. Don’t be fooled Jode. We have plenty of crazy over here 🙂 Although you have those lovely twins and a whole bunch of new littles so I think you might win this one 🙂

  10. I admire people who homeschool so much! Love your note pad!

    1. Thanks Kelly. It’s a bit commitment but so far we are really enjoying our little journey. And hey you get to wear your favourite tiger suit when ever you want 🙂

  11. Love this post Kate! 🙂 So inspiring! I’m trying to plan to homeschool Miss Daisy next year.. she’ll be 4 next July so I’m keen to do some more ‘structured’ things.. the structure is mainly for me! 😉 Pinning this one, thanks x

  12. You are making it more and more inviting for me to homeschool the girls, Kate! I just love how super organised you are and how this allows your children to move fluidly through the day, following their own schedules. Thank you for being so amazing!!

  13. I want to thank you. You inspired me to look at reggio and pbh closer and it changed my world as well as a few friends of mine. I really liked looking at you journal page. Do you have other examples or could you do a post on your journal? It is very helpful to see. It has been the hardest part of pbh for me. Thank you!

  14. laurettabear says:

    How do you have all of the books, materials and supplies on hand you need to follow his lead? I’m really trying an approach like this with my almost four-year-old, but often he wants to do things with supplies we doing have (maybe the cotton balls are gone, or we need a washer or something random like that). I can’t possibly anticipate everything, and I can’t go to the store every day. How do you handle that? Also, do you ever guide your son to ideas and projects? If so, how do you do that without “taking over”?

  15. Hi! I am planning on starting up Tot School for a little girl I watch everyday. She will be 20 months and I really like the idea of focused learning through play. I’m in the process of doing some research to find activities to do…. really looking for some kind of “curriculum” calendar with things to do each week. What are you using for your planning?

    Thanks! Tina

  16. I know this post is very old, but I’m wondering about the amount of time you spend outside of the house. I am really working to have less errands to do by being more efficient with my trips out and meal-planning, but we still make trips out about 3 times a week. I feel this really cuts into being able to have a routine. Whether it’s going to the grocery store, the park, or a relative’s house, I feel like we are “on the go” much too often to have a predictable routine. However, a lot of it seems necessary. We have to grocery shop and if Grandma invites us over to swim, I hate to say no.
    Any suggestions to feel less busy so I can implement a real routine? How do handle errands and such?

    1. I felt like that too. I was always popping to the shops or running an errand. And it really does stop you from having a predictable rhythm. We still are out quite a bit but it is for the kids’ structured activities – like sport and things. I’ve scheduled time into our weekly rhythm for errands now. It’s one morning a week after one of Sarah’s activities – we are in town already so it’s a good use of time. I try to keep all my errands until then.

      I also realised that I needed to prioritise our homeschool – I don’t like to be tied down to a strict schedule or anything but well all are happier with a predictable rhythm. So we visit my mum one afternoon a week, say for example. She knows we are coming on that day. Of course, if it’s beautiful weather we can throw all our plans out the window and spend the day at the creek but I’ve realised that we can’t be spending all our time out and about doing.

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