What is “Closet HomeSchooling”?
When I was pregnant with my first (10 years ago), I informed my husband, Adam, that I “reserved the right to homeschool.”
He was (skeptically) agreeable, so I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about homeschooling in case the day ever came when I felt that I could do a better job teaching the kids than our local school.
We now have three little girls: 9 1/2, 6 1/2 and age sixteen months. We’ve moved a few times since I “staked my claim” to homeschool ten years ago, and now live in a very good school district.
so my kids go to public school (the baby is home, of course).
The children are happy, and are thriving. They continue to excel in class and are all naturally inquisitive and have a thirst for learning.
I’m happy with a lot that the school provides, but continue to supplement at home as much as I can. I try to be “around” the school a lot, which allows me opportunity to see firsthand behavior issues, and the time wasted moving from activities or lessons.
I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing–it’s just something I’m very aware of. Adam says I’m keeping score. Maybe I am!
I’m greatly looking forward to having the kids home with me when school lets out (8 days!). No matter how involved I am in the school, during the school year, Adam and I are not in charge.
The teacher is.
I wish I could say this doesn’t bother me, but I’d be lying. The school calendar dominates our day to day life, and I’m looking forward to getting a more natural flow to our days.
It’s Pretty Much “After-School” Homeschooling
I have gotten a few emails in the past week or so asking what activities I do with my children during the summer. My oldest is going to attend a 2-week enrichment program (3 hours a day),
[updated, 6/1: just got an email that the program has been canceled due to lack of funds/enrollment. NOT HAPPY. ]
and my 6 year old will attend a gymnastics class twice a week. I’ll probably throw in a week of swim lessons, and we’re hoping to get a sponsor for a late-summer book tour to Albuquerque, and will visit the Grand Canyon.
Otherwise, our days will be pretty loose— park trips, library visits, and playdates. The television will be turned off for the day by 10am, and the kids will have free range of the art supplies, books, games, and the back yard.
will they fight?
will I lose my temper (more than I should)?
will they complain that they’re bored?
W.I.T.H.O.U.T. A. D.O.U.B.T.
I can not wait.
Resources shown above, and what I use in our (closet) homeschooling curriculum:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons — I taught all three kids to read with this book. It’s actually not shown in the above picture because I lent it to our neighbor to use with her 3-year-old.
I do not use the writing exercises at all. At the end of the 100 lessons, your child will be reading on a 2nd grade level.
I started just for fun at around age 3 1/2 with my girls. I followed the lessons in order, but didn’t have a set time frame. If the kids wanted to sit with me and practice, we did. We would go months without even opening the book, but sometimes we’d do 4 lessons in a day. They each finished the book in it’s entirety before entering first grade.
BOB Books. — I’ve put these books away until the baby is ready. Warning: they tear easily! These are fun, whimsical books that teach reading both through phonics and memorization.
I actually think it’s mostly from memorization, but many disagree. Empowers young children that they can read an “entire book.”
Brain Quest decks — we have at least a dozen of these decks. I love giving them as gifts, and love receiving them!
I toss a deck into the diaper bag to pull out at restaurants when we anticipate a long wait, I use them in waiting rooms, in the car when waiting for music lessons to dismiss, etc. I keep a basket on the shelf on the end table and the kids pull them out when they’ve got some time to kill.
Brain Quest Workbooks — we were given a few of these, and the kids use them, but there’s definitely a workbook feel. I keep them “out” and sometimes they’ll do a page or two on their own, but mostly they are used for playing school with playdates.
Summer Bridge — I bought a set of these a few summers ago mostly to pacify myself that the kids were on the right track and their brains weren’t turning to mush.
I’ve since relaxed a bit on worksheets, but if you are a person who likes order and want the confidence of knowing the kids are *actually* learning or your kids like completing worksheets this is a good summer project.
Never Bored books — Mazes, word searches, brain teasers, coloring pages, etc. My kids like these better than traditional workbooks. I would recommend buying up an age group for a bit of a challenge.
Some of the activities require scissors and glue.
We only have the first book and are only a third of the way through. It starts with Ancient Times: Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor. The book is written in story form, and is written from a secular perspective.
The Daring Book for Girls and The Dangerous Book for Boys — We have both of these books. Practical guide to pretty much anything: letter writing, fire building, camping, tying a variety of knots, how to be a good friend, proper restaurant manners.
These aren’t books to be read cover to cover, but used as a reference guide. I like to give these as gifts.
The Little House on the Prairie books — I have girls, so I’m not sure how well this series would fare in a house full of boys.
I read this series outloud to my big girls, starting when my oldest was 6 (I skipped over some of the Laura and Alfonso stuff). Reading this series outloud was hands-down the best history lesson my kids have ever had (thus far. they are still quite young!). We refer to “Laura and Mary” quite often in our house, and apply the knowledge of this time period to other history lessons to provide perspective.
I plan on rereading the series in a year or so to refresh all of our memories.
These are the easiest-to-understand for little kids drawing guides I’ve found.
Soduku Unifex game — If you’ve never played soduku, or are intimidated by it, this is a FANTASTIC way to learn the game– for little kids and for grown ups! This is a one-player game, and once the fundamentals are learned, soduku is a solitary game enjoyed throughout your whole life.
Math, reasoning, strategy, and spacial awareness are all key aspects of this game. The box says ages 7 and up. My kids enjoyed playing (with help) at age five.
We play a lot of board games! These are our family-favorite board games.
Carcasonne — medieval strategy and “empire-building” game — easy to understand even for the little guys since it’s practically like dominoes
Blokus — great strategy game — similar to Tetris. Requires thinking ahead, spacial awareness, strategy to block opponent
Apples to Apples Jr. — great grammar and reading game that is fun and entertaining for the whole family. This is a rated G version, the adult one can get racy.
Kid Charades — sure, you can make up your own version of charades, but this is made specifically for kids and the cards have a few prompts on each one.
Cranium — one of our absolute favorites; a few different games all in one box!
Clue — classic board game, teaches bluffing and keeping a poker face/strategy
UPDATED APRIL 2020:
So now we ALL seem to be “homeschooling” right now, due to the coronavirus.
I’ve gotten quite a few emails from readers asking what I am doing, if anything, to supplement my kids home learning.
I currently work for a school district (not the one my elementary school age child is in) and can see firsthand HOW MUCH WORK IT IS to be a teacher.
HOLY FREAKING BANANAS teachers all need a raise.
Actually, they need their salaries immediately doubled, if not tripled.
Teaching is not just about academics — it is teaching the *whole* child —- it’s taking care of all of their social and emotional needs in order for learning to happen. If a child does not feel safe, does not feel secure, and does not have his/her social-emotional needs met, then learning CAN NOT HAPPEN. It simply can not.
That said — if you are finding that you need to supplement with some things at home I stand behind the above mentioned resources, and want to add in:
so you can print out some supplemental worksheets, word searches, puzzles, and fun things that also promote learning.
Zearn.org is a great math program, but please remember to not overwork your kids — let them play and goof off and have more outside time and playtime than screen time.
speaking of “goofing off” — KrazyDad.com is fantastic for handing your kid a maze to do right before you hop onto a conference call. 😉
Lots and lots and lots of love to you —- just by reading this it is OBVIOUS that you are a completely and totally awesome parent.
We will get through this.