Monday, January 4, 2016

A New-ish Year

'Tis the season for setting goals and making resolutions. Personally, I prefer a more year-round approach to personal growth and learning through change, but sometimes that return from a nice, long holiday break provides a great opportunity to experiment.

This year, I am planning to try some new things in our homeschooling life and in my mama life (as if those two things could ever really be separate) and continuing other things that we started to experiment with last year. Here are a few highlights:

Morning Basket

I have been mulling over the idea of a Morning Basket for awhile after listening to some of these amazing podcasts from Ed Snapshots; however, our actual Morning Basket will be brand new to our homeschool routine in 2016. Previously, I did a more traditional, school-like morning meeting with calendar time, counting days of school, graphing the weather, and so on. As it turns outs, that really was not working for the sprouts, and they were tuning me out before the day even started. I like the idea of the Morning Basket as gentler and more connected way to start the day. A lot of ideas for the basket include religious texts, but as secular homeschoolers, I prefer some of the ideas presented in this blog post from Choosing Our Own Adventures. Our basket is not nearly so extensive-- at least not yet. Right now, we are using Mother Goose rhymes for memory work and the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang as the source for our read-alouds. I plan on mostly ambushing the sprouts with the read-aloud at breakfast time (a captive audience!) but I also plan to include a fine-motor activity during read-aloud time for the days when things don't go according to plan.

I have also decided to include a math manipulative in our basket each week as a way to reconnect with hands-on mathematics and to bring some playfulness back into our math routine. This week, I included pattern blocks on our basket, which are always a hit. That brings us to a grand total for four things in the basket (memory work, read aloud, fine-motor manipulative, and math manipulative). It's not much at the moment, as I'm a big believer in starting small and working our way up from there. The basket was well-received this morning-- knock on wood!-- but we shall see how the sprouts respond in a day, a month, or even next year.

Project-Based Homeschool

We started Project-Based Homeschooling last year, and we loved it so much that we will definitely be continuing in 2016. I already wrote about getting started and setting goals for PBH. I'm looking forward to writing more about our experience this year, as it will likely be the majority of our schooling for the time being. The sprouts really enjoyed the experiment in December when Project Time was their only school work. They were focused, motivated, and fairly productive. I do want to keep introducing some skills that I think are important, so that's why I feel like the Morning Basket will make a nice complement to the PBH approach.

Bullet Journal

This is a new practice for me, but so far I am completely in love. If you haven't heard of it before, it's basically a list-based journal that is indexed--and later, archived-- for quick reference. Personally, it appeals to me as a homeschooling mom because I finally feel like I have something to show for all of my work. Rather than wadding up my Post-It note  at the end of each day, I can preserve my list as a record of what I accomplished. I have also decided to include a one-sentence summary of the day in each entry so that I can preserve my memories efficiently. I have done long-form journaling off-and-on throughout the years, but this feels like something I can stick with in spite of-- or rather, because of-- my busy schedule.

Capsule Wardrobe

I actually started building my capsule wardrobe in November after reading this post on mom uniforms from Quill and Camera and this post on capsule wardrobes over at Dallas Moms Blog. As a homeschooling mom, it's easy to fall into the pattern of wearing a sweatpants and a t-shirt most days or spending the whole day in a nightgown during hot summers. Even when we left the house, I was never super motivated to dress up since I would be toting kids around. However, I started to feel like maybe that was having a detrimental impact on my psyche. I wasn't taking myself seriously, and I wasn't taking care of myself as a result. Now, I haven't turned to a style maven by any stretch of the imagination, but I am dressing more like a grown up. Paring down my wardrobe and making sure I only kept (or bought) mix-and-match neutrals that I loved, has made getting dressed much more enjoyable for me. It helps me feel more put-together, more confident, and happier as a result; I'll definitely be keeping up the capsule wardrobe for 2016.

These are kind of the highlights right now. I feel like we're in a messy exciting transitional stage with homeschooling, so I am looking forward to posting more updates on how things are going as the year continues. I sincerely hope that everyone reading this is off to a good start for the New Year, but if not, please remember that change can start any time of the year. Until next time,

Happy Learning!