Our family recently spent the weekend at a KOA campground outside of Dallas, Texas. I always seem to be more at peace when we are away. Some say it’s because I shut my phone off and don’t have to think about work; I think that is only a small part of the reason.
When we arrived home and I got back into the routine of home-life, I had a realization. I enjoy my time away because during those times we are living simply. We only bring the clothes, food, toiletries we need for that stay. We don’t have tons of toys laying around on the floor, sometimes we don’t bring along toys at all.
So, as I walked around my house the other day, I was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have accumulated. I am a former public school teacher and have held on to a lot of the books I used in my classroom. Also, my husband and I own a small business and homeschool our children, so the stuff just seems to grow out of the air sometimes!
At the beginning of the school year, I bought (what I realize now) too many resources – workbooks, printable worksheets, fiction and nonfiction books for a specific theme. Now that we have been schooling for a few months and have fallen into a steady routine, I realize that I don’t need all that stuff taking up our lives.
So, my advice for those just starting out – BREATHE and take it SLOW! The natural rhythms of your family will emerge over time and you will begin to understand your children’s learning needs and patterns and you will also find that you inherently have most everything you need to educate your family.
Making it Work
So, how have I started to live more simply? Well, for starters, I decided to drop the worksheets and use paper and manipulatives that I already have on hand.
Here are some ideas from a math lesson I did recently with the kids. My daughter is working on place value and my son is working on patterns and counting with one-to-one correspondence. He is also working on pre-writing skills.
All we used for this lesson was a bag of candy corn Autumn mix, some foam leaves, and paper!
The Autumn mix is perfect for the patterning, but if it wasn’t close to Halloween I would have used other items I have on hand. Some suggestions are: colored straw pieces, crayons, or even just small circles of different colored construction paper.
For my son’s pre-writing practice, I had him work on placing the leaves along a horizontal and vertical line. Next time we will work on diagonal lines.
For my daughter, we divided the paper into thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones. She grabbed a handful of candy corn and placed it in each column. Then she counted the amount, wrote down the number and recited the number to me. We did some mental math too – I asked her to round the number to the nearest hundred and tens. We also talked about comparing numbers (less than or greater than). She was excited to each her math project when we were done!