Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite things from our first week back to homeschool for the 2020-2021 year. We made some big educational changes this year – and I’m loving it!
I may be compensated for some items linked in this post at no extra cost to you.
Before I talk about some of the curriculum and structure related changes we made in our homeschool this year, allow me to get straight to the point and link my Friday Faves for you in case that’s specifically what you came for! If you want to read ahead, I’ll be linking each item individually with pictures and commentary below.
Back to Home School Favorites
- Anatomy Model Bundle
- Awaking Wonder by Sally Clarkson
- Magnetic Human Body Puzzles
- Who Was Books
- The Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner
- My Human Body Wooden Peg Puzzle
2020 Homeschool Changes
I’ll be writing a detailed post on this topic where I share our current curricula, what we’ve used in the past, and thoughts moving forward. But to sum up the changes I made prior to starting the 2020 school year, which is our third year of homeschooling, I:
- ditched the ever popular – the Good & the Beautiful
- put a lot more focus on the heart of our homeschool than the curriculum
- set up a dedicated homeschool space
- leaned into advice (a.k.a. books, podcasts, etc.) from very seasoned moms rather than going along with every popular, new homeschooling trend or wave.
I really, really wanted to love TGTB and gave it an entire year. But my kids did not like it, at all. It was like pulling teeth to get them to complete a lesson. We ended up skipping most of the content.
This year, I’m much more focused on reading aloud, verbal/oral work, child-led learning, the Bible as our focal point and foundation for everything, and lighting that fire for learning that I KNOW lives inside of every child.
It’s funny, these ideals are no different than what I envisioned when I set out on our homeschooling journey 3 years ago. But it’s taken me that long to truly unlearn what I learned education “should” look like over the course of my own 18 years of traditional schooling.
Also, I will add that my husband was very wary of homeschooling until Coronavirus. He’s generally wary of anything that goes against the grain/norm. Which is downright hilarious if you know me. I literally live swimming upstream – willfully. Our differing views made the journey more challenging for sure! But – our family experienced a major silver lining in this whole Coronavirus fiasco – his shift to supporting homeschooling 100%. I’ll take it!
To sum it up: this is the first year I am homeschooling with confidence. Yikes! But hey, it’s all part of the journey, right?! ANd that’s not to say we weren’t learning over the past two years. We were just finding our way.
OK, onto my favorite new-to-us things this week in our homeschool!
I knew I wanted to focus on the human body for first our science topic, as we are reading through Genesis with the Simply Charlotte Mason History/Bible/Geography Lesson plan.
My kids LOVE puzzles and models of all kind. Basically anything with lots of little pieces – they love it. So I ordered each of them a different puzzle/model set related to the human body, wrapped them in wrapping paper, and gave them to the kids the night before we started school as back to school gifts. They tore right into them that night!
The kids got to play with their puzzles/models as I read and talked the next day about God creating man in His image.
Althought I technically bought this for John (8), Vivi (7) has definitely taken to this particular model set the most and she’s such a wiz with putting them together!
The age recommendation says 5-10 years old in one place, and then 3-13 in another. I would say this set is probably best for kids over 6-7yo. It’s not easy to put together even with the directions! But not in a bad way, its just challenging to truly grasp the positioning of each piece.
Usually, if my kids are going to end up not enjoying an educational – I know so within the first 48 hours because it gets tossed aside and forgotten. This set has been played with for at least an hour a day for a week now and the kids have been asking great questions about anatomy, which ties into God’s creative works!
I read a few homeschooling books over the summer, listened to some podcasts, and prayed a lot about the direction we would take after powering through the previous year.
Of all the materials I consumed – this book (the last one I read this summer) by seasoned homeschooling mom Sally Clarkson took the cake.
I’ve now ordered all of her books, subscribed to her podcasts, and welcomed her into the exclusive content creator hall of fame in my brain.
This book is honest, its inspiring, it practical, and it contains some much needed calls to action. I was convicted to look within myself and examine my heart for raising my children. This book has changed/is changing me as a mother in a way that I will remember as pivotal in my journey with my children.
Each child has great capacity for growth, strength, virtuous character. They will become more likely to exercise more of their capacity if we speak to them of their ability to access their potential, and then allow them to make their own decisions to grow and make commitments and become strong inside and out.
When children are small, you protect, instruct, love, model. Don’t pressure your children toward performance, especially when they are just learning, playing, pretending, laying foundations. Let them have the gift of being innocent children. Then, little by little, as they grow older, you expand their responsibilities and decision making while they are still with you so that you can support them.
Motivating children to make and fulfill their own goals keeps them from living by performance for us, their parents….Controlling a child’s decisions or life never builds strength.
Often, as parents or teachers we want to retrieve our children from difficult or challenging circumstances. Yet the only way muscle is built is by pushing against resistance or pressure. Learning when not to save my children from potentially difficult circumstances took prayer and searching for wisdom. Letting them feel the consequences of life but walking beside them in encouragement meant they grew in character and insight.
Of course, we must be sensitive to age, capacity, and circumstance and not push our little ones into a strenuous situation. Children need the gift of innocence as long as possible.
Thank you, Sally, for the encouragement for this mom to lean into the calling to a gentler, child-led education.
This was Vivi’s human body back to school gift. And once again, it was a hit!! Just in the week since I first posted about it in my Instagram stories, I’ve had a handful of friends purchase it and give it awesome reviews as well.
I really like the the set comes with cards for several different languages. I speak Spanish to the kids every day in little bits, but I’ll be focusing on teaching them more and I’m excited to use this piece to help with body parts!
Even Hank (5) has been loving this one and especially enjoys putting together the “red guy” (muscles). So darn cute I hate to correct him!
I see this set being a favorite for years to come.
Who Was Books
We live in central Missouri, so field trips to the Daniel Boone home are pretty much non-negotiable.
When we visited a few weeks ago, I saw these Who Was books in the gift shop and planned on buying a few, but got side tracked. Later that week, I noticed a few homeschooling moms I follow on IG raving about them, so I knew they must be legit!
My kids LOVE historical biographies, and these books are by far the best we’ve read yet, complete with black and white illustrations, timelines, and important historical events noted throughout for reference.
So far we’ve finished Who Was Daniel Boone, and have moved onto Sacagawea.
My kids have been totally immersed in imagining life on the frontier. They’ve built countless cardboard forts, tipis, and homes while I read. They’ve drawn pictures of + narrated scenes from our readings in their creative writing journals. And even little Hanky couldn’t wait to tell Big John all about “SacaJulia.”
As much as the kids are loving these reads, I think I’m loving them even more! I get so into reading with dramatic voices. It’s just pure joy to see actual sparkles in the eyes of my little people, waiting to hear what happens next.
Although this is the only homeschool planner I’ve used, I spent time reading reviews for and checking out several of the most popular choices.
I like that this is a day planner with space for up to 4 students. I don’t use all the features like the meal planning or grading sections. But, all in all I’m really liking the pretty, straightforward design!
This little wooden peg puzzle set was Hanky’s (5) back to school gift. He plays with it quite a bit and can now name each body part listed by memory!
He and Vivi compared these puzzles to the anatomy models, identifying different parts on each one day while I was reading. I’ve yet to discuss function formally, but they’ve learned a lot by asking questions.
We discussed what a cell is, and that it’s the building block God used to create the human body. Just like legos are building blocks that can be put together to make larger creations.