Archives for June 2015

Homeschooling: The Early Years

Realizing that I needed one, I have been taking an extended break from homeschooling Larkspur and Beatrix, and over these weeks, making my plans for our next school year.  I promised that I would write about this a couple of weeks ago, and I think I am finally ready!

The three “Rs” are my primary academic focus during the early years, and there are years during which that is all I am able to accomplish with my younger children.  In our upcoming school year, the girls will be learning religion, history, science, music, writing, and more at the once weekly co-op that we will be participating in.  (This will only be our second year in a homeschooling co-op.)  Were we not participating in the co-op, I would use Mater Amabilis for these subjects.  We also focus on plenty of unstructured time spent outdoors, reading aloud together, and on creative (ahem, messy) pursuits.

To make it simple, I’m just going to talk a little about the three programs I plan to use, and why:

Math:  When I was only homeschooling a couple of kids, I used Rightstart Math.  As our family grew, and I became aware of the different ways that each of my children learn, I began to phase in some different programs.  Currently I have two children using Saxon math, one using Life of Fred, and for my little girls I am using Math Mammoth.  While I did like Rightstart Math for the early years, it is very mom-intensive and I don’t have time for it anymore.  I have been using Math Mammoth as an alternative for a couple of years now thanks to the recommendation of a friend, and I am finding that it works for us.  It is easy to implement, and it is economical too (printable ebooks).  This curriculum does not rely on manipulatives, though it is easy to pull them out to illustrate a concept when desired.  If I am able to, I would love to supplement with Life of Fred.  (Seth is a huge fan of that program, and is using it exclusively for his high school math.)

Reading:  For the past few years I have been using All About Reading for phonics instruction.  I really love this program and recommend it again and again.  I used to be far more spontaneous and creative in teaching reading, but really appreciate this scripted program as it serves us well.  I don’t have to plan lessons, and I don’t have to worry about missing something.  My girls seem to enjoy it as well.  This year Beatrix will be continuing Level 1, and Larkspur, Level 3.  I highly recommend All About Reading for both busy (overwhelmed) homeschooling moms and those who have it all together.

Handwriting:  This is where I am changing gears.  My children do not have nice handwriting!  I have used Handwriting Without Tears from the start, and must not be doing a great job implementing the program.  I also have some children who just generally struggle with handwriting.  I read this article last week, and decided that I am going to work with both of my girls on cursive handwriting this year.  (My boys are going to have a cursive review, though I haven’t broken the news to them yet!)  A friend recently shared the Queen Homeschool Pictures in Cursive program, and I fell in love with the concept and the beautiful artwork.  I ordered workbooks for the first three levels for my girls, and plan to work through them over the next school year.  Dare I say that I am excited about handwriting for possibly the first time ever?

Please ask me any questions you might have in the comments, and feel free to jump into the discussion and answer each others’ questions as well! 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Nova Natural Toys & Crafts {giveaway!}


Nova Natural has been my favorite place to buy high quality children’s toys for many years now, so it’s always exciting for me to share their business with all of you!  If you’ve been reading here for the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen some of our favorite things, purchased from Nova, here on the blog.  I am often asked about our nativity, and then there are our favorite interlocking blocks, and more recently this crossbow that we bought for Silas.  Larkspur is using the high quality watercolor set that she received for her birthday on a daily basis.  Oh, and these sailboats!  They are fantastic, and really last.  I could go on and on!

From Nova Natural:
Nova Natural is a small, family-run business based in Vermont. It was created around the mission of providing natural, wholesome products that encourage every child’s individual spirit to flourish.  We practice sustainability by working with small businesses and artisans to offer high quality, long lasting products with a high play value. That means they don’t get used once or twice and then tossed aside. Rather, they’re made to last, sometimes for more than one generation.



We’re excited to offer some great new products this summer that encourage outdoor play. For days at the beach, we have sturdy BPA and phthalate-free sand toys. Choose from several different sets, including one sized perfectly for toddlers. We have new kits for exploring your own backyard: a botanist’s case, which includes a flower press, magnifying glass and notebook, and an explorer’s kit, complete with binoculars, a compass, rope and a satchel. Also new this summer are outdoor hammocks! Hang one up outside and leave it out–they’re perfect for reading, relaxing or just creating a cozy place for watching the clouds go by. For children who like to work with their hands, we have two new wooden tool boxes with real, child-sized tools. Who knows what you might build this summer? And of course, we are well-stocked with classic toys for summer: kites, boomerangs, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and more!

sidewalk chalk

For the giveaway, Nova Natural would like to offer one winner a $50 gift card.  In addition, when you join their mailing list (scroll to the bottom of their homepage, and you will see the place to enter your email address), you will receive a coupon for $7.00 off your order.

To enter this giveaway, start by leaving a comment on this post.  Then be sure to enter the Rafflecopter widget below, logging in with either your email address or your Facebook account for your chances to win.  You will need to start by selecting the option to leave a comment on this blog post.  In addition you can receive two chances by joining the Nova Natural mailing list, and another chance for following @novanatural on Instagram!  The giveaway will end on Monday, June 29nd at 7 a.m. EST.  The winner will be announced later that morning within this post and notified via email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway