Meet Amanda and learn why this is only the beginning of her homeschool journey!
Tell us about you, your family and your homeschool journey.
Hey there! I’m Amanda and we live close to Baltimore, Maryland. I am a former teacher turned stay at home mom. My daughter, Sicily, is 17 months old, and we have another little bundle of joy due in February. Since my little one is still a baby, our homeschool journey is just beginning. I currently blog about our homeschooling adventures over at Sicily’s Heart and Home.
How long have you been homeschooling?
My adventure is a bit different than everyone else you have read in this series because Sicily is only 17 months old, so our homeschool journey is just beginning. I always knew I wanted to homeschool my children, but after struggling with teaching against my believes in education through the public school system, we started a bit earlier than expected. Sicily and I don’t technically do homeschool right now, but we do Tot School. We have been doing Tot School since she was 12 months old.
Related: The Adventures of Tot School
Tell us about your Tot School approach.
Figuring out our approach is ever changing. I know in the back of my mind how I want things to go, but putting them into action is another story. In the few short months that we have been doing Tot School, I’ve changed our environment and ways of learning several times.
I design a mix of Reggio Emilia and Montessori into our Tot School experiences. We learn based off of Sicily’s interests and I give her as much time as she needs to explore. I am hoping to follow this type of learning style throughout our whole homeschool experience. The majority of our day and activities is play based. Here is an example of a typical week: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Tot School.
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling?
Since Tot School isn’t officially homeschooling, we do our school days year round. When we begin “real” homeschool, we will still follow a year round schedule, but summer will be more laid back and focused solely on their interests.
Tell us about your homeschooling routine.
We start every day with breakfast and stories. It’s a great way to connect and start the day on a happy note. After we get ready for the day, we do our inquiry work. Right now, Sicily is loving sensory bins. Every week I put a new material in our bin to play with. We actually have two bins right now, beans and noodles. As Sicily gets old, our inquiry work time will be child-led. She will decide what she wants to learn about and how she wants to go about finding the answers to her questions. My job during this time is to provide materials and help guide when needed. All the work is done by the child and I only interact when asked or if she is really struggling.
Next we have some free time. The majority of our day is based around free play. During this time, Sicily can play with any of the toys that I have laid out. Sometimes I will set up an invitation to play to see if she develops an interests in a particular topic or skill. During this free play block, I am the observer. I sit and watch. By just being there I am letting her know that she is valued. I am merely a puppet in her play and do as I am told. I don’t show her the “right” way to play with a toy. I let her figure it out on her own. When she is frustrated, I am there to encourage her.
We end our morning with outside play. After lunch and nap, we have another learning activity. Typically this activity is based on core subjects, like math and literacy. Right now we are working on colors. Today’s learning activity was coloring with blue. We were learning how to hold a pencil, how to use both hands at the same time, and the color blue. We end our Tot School day with more outside time.
Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
Our homeschooling happens all around us. I am a big believer that the world is our classroom. We are constantly learning, even while grocery shopping and making mud pies.
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
I have spent the past few months searching for the perfect preschool curriculum that meets all my needs, but I can’t find it anywhere. Even if I mix curriculum together, I still will not have the one I truly want, so I am creating my own. I have created a list of skills a two year old needs and am starting the process of designing activities and routines to meet those skills. Since Sicily will be more verbal, we will definitely be delving more into her interests during our inquiry time next year.
List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
There books are not necessarily homeschooling, but they have a huge impact on my teaching style.
- Loose Parts 2: Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky
- The Hundred Languages of Children by Carolyn Edwards and Lella Gandini
- Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky
Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, you must homeschool the kids while traveling and you can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you. What would you take?
Honestly…absolutely nothing! We can find the materials we need in nature. We can use sticks to make letters. We can practice writing in mud, and we can count using rocks. The world is our classroom.
If you had the chance to start homeschooling all over again today with the knowledge and experience you have now, what would you do differently?
Right now, we are still in a transition phase. The purpose of Tot School is to figure out our rhythm and style. I’ve changed our ways many times already, and I’m sure I’ll chance is many more times. I’m hoping with Tot School and Homeschooling preschool, that we will figure out our ways before we start “real” school.