Meet Ashley! A fellow blogger and Teacher Turned Homeschool BoyMom!
Tell us about you and your family.
Our fun family of 5 live in Austin, Texas (#1 Homeschooling city in the US according to us and Homeschool Life Magazine…Whoop! Whoop!) I am a “public teacher turned homeschool mom” to our 3 boys Jackson 7, Nixon 5 and Mason 3. My amazing husband is a groundwater scientist for the USGS (which comes in handy because he tackles teaching the boys computer programming and math skills)
When I’m not schooling my own, I am teaching educational workshops for parents to attend and learn with their children. “Mommy’s Little Learners” started back in 2011 when I hosted a literacy playgroup within my home. God has now open doors, beyond our home, and my boys and I (yes they come with me) have taught multiple workshops from a Writer’s Workshop to Kitchen Chemistry.
How long have you been homeschooling?
When my in-laws (both former educators) approached us about the idea of homeschooling in 2011, I began “flirting” with this homeschool concepts and began “tot schooled” Jackson when he was 3. Oh, that first born – they are always the “guinea pigs”! So I guess to answer this question honestly…about 5 years.
Tell us about your homeschooling approach.
This question always gets me! We swing back and forth from “Child-led Learning” using Unit Studies and/or Project-Based learning to Unschooling to Traditional. When I first began, I was trying to do “school at home” and that was wearing US out! In February of 2015, I discovered a homeschool hero, Kathy H. Lee at a local homeschool convention. The Homegrown Preschooler’s curriculum/theory led me to freedom! I went from “playing teacher” to “learning and teaching through play”. It was a huge breakthrough for me and my kids.
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling for this teacher turned homeschool boymom?
Year-Round, for us! We take breaks to visit family or go on work trips with my husband. We actually like the idea of beginning our school year in January and we are hoping to implement that in 2017. We have big plans, this year, to “road-school” the months of October (to the mountains) and April (to the beach). We are so blessed that my husband has a teleworking type job that allows us the freedom to do this!
Tell us about your homeschooling routine.
I like to “sprinkle” our learning throughout the day. Because I have a 3 BOYS we need to get our wiggles out! Keep in mind that it doesn’t look this formal every day…but we do try to stick to this schedule 2-3 days a week while we are “learning at home”. But I have found that we work best with structure and schedule.
- 7:30am – boys are up and play quietly in their room.
- 8am – breakfast and bible (we use the Jesus Storybook Bible…love it!)
- Clean up and play
- 9am – quick calendar lesson (for the 5 and 3-year-old) while the 7-year-old “warms up his brain” by practicing piano and/or doing a quick Daily Math Problem.
- 9:15am – We will break for some yoga (via YouTube) or play outside.
- 9:45am – Reading usually happens in the morning for everyone. 15 minutes with each kid, even the 3-year-old because he deserves some Mommy time and wants to do everything his older brothers do.
One of our favorite things to do is ride bikes to the neighborhood park, play first, read with Mom, play some more than ride home. I alternate who reads with me and the park always keeps the others entertained and occupied.
- 11am – Math with Mommy (15-20 minute “sprinkle” for the 7-year-old and sometimes the 5-year-old)
- 11:30am – PLAY! while Mommy fixes lunch
- 12pm – Read-aloud and lunch (I read them a book aloud or we practice our Reading Strategy cards)
- 12:30 – Clean up lunch and “team clean” the house aka quick pick up. Then…PLAY!
- 1pm-3pm – quiet house…shhhhhh! 3-year-old naps! 5 year old sometimes naps or reads/plays quietly.
- Within that 2 hours of silent blissfulness, the 7-year-old and Mommy work on Writing or Computer skills/Coding (which we are learning together!) Sometimes, the 5-year-old joins us.
- 3pm – SNACK and PLAY for the rest of the day!
2-3 evenings during the week – My husband does “Daddy Math” with an individual child (alternating). While the other 2 kiddos help clean up dinner and dishes.
So if we added up the minutes of our “sprinkled learning”…it’s about 2 hours. So sweet! We play and explore all of our other waking hours.
Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
Outside, at the park, teaching workshops together or learning with other homeschool friends.
I hosted a 4 week “Writer’s Club” co-op in the Fall and Spring. I taught writing skills to my 7-year-old along with 8 other homeschooling friends. Our club would walk to the library (3 blocks away) while the littlest learners stayed behind at home with other kids/moms for some social playtime. After class, we’d walk back home, have a picnic lunch/play (of course) then have a “Share Chair” session in my living room. This is when the Writers would read their work for the kids/moms. What a beautiful experience for ALL!
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
Don’t freak out…but I don’t buy or use a curriculum. Because of my past profession as a 1st-grade teacher and Reading Coach, I understand this age. But ask me this in a few more years…and you’ll probably get a different answer. I do pull out some of my favorite “teacher resources”:
- Reading – Reading Strategy Cards by Celebration Press, good ole library books and “out of adoption” public school guided reading books. Our favorite author is Joy Cowley!
- Phonics – “Making Words” by Patricia Cunningham
- Writing – Kid’s Email so that my kids can read and email family members each day. I’ve dipped in and out of this teacher resource, Units of Primary Study for Primary Writing by Lucy Calkins
- Math – Instant Math Centers by Janet Bruno
- Science – The Bearded Science Guy on YouTube
- Art – Art Hub for Kids (also on YouTube)
- Computer Coding – Usborne Children’s Book – Coding for Beginners using Scratch
List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
- The Homegrown Preschooler by Kathy H Lee and Leslie Richards
- Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight – Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years by Heidi St. John
- Project-based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners – by Lori Pickert
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?
- Legos! Legos! and more Legos!
- Our Jesus Story Book Bible
- Spiral notebooks with empty pages and pencils
- iPhone to document our learning through pictures and videos, also for listening to music and podcasts.
- a BIG bag of M&Ms – Using these, I can teach math to my 7 and 5-year-olds, review colors and counting with my toddler, and they mix well with anything for a tasty, road trip snack!
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?
I would “let them be little”! I started “school at home” WAY too early with my 1st born. Coming from a teaching profession, that was all that I knew. Is he “ok” from being “the guinea pig”?…absolutely! It was something that every “teacher turned homeschooler” (or even public-schooled parent) probably has to experience before their “Ah-HA!” moment hits them. Do I regret the hours spent planning on Sundays after church for hours just for a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old? No! Do I beat myself up over researching blogs, printing coloring sheets, and laminating activities only to discover that my boys learned so much through play? No, because that’s the journey that has lead me to my peaceful and happy heart that I have now for homeschooling my children.