I almost can’t believe the school year has started already! After a year and a half of no school, homeschool, part-time school, and a mix of other options, it feels surreal getting back to a bit of “normal” life.
What We Did For School Last Year
When our neighborhood public school did distance learning for most of last year, we decided it wasn’t the best option for family. With 3 kids in school, and 2 other little ones at home, I knew we wouldn’t do a very good job of managing a million Zoom calls. My kids weren’t super into the idea of distance learning, either, so we decided to try out homeschooling.
It was something I’d considered for years but had never done because my kids weren’t interested, and it’s important to me that they have a big say in their educational opportunities. But with no one else there in person, either, it was the perfect opportunity. And we loved it!
We really enjoyed the curriculums we chose, especially for language arts and math. We also really enjoyed our homeschool schedule since it allowed us to add in things that were important to us (global education, lots of outdoor time). It gave us a lot of flexibility in terms of being able to teach to my kids’ levels (it was easy to do more advanced material). And perhaps best of all, it gave us so much wonderful flexibility in time on a daily basis, as well as across weeks and months, for travel, exploring, playing, and more.
It was also hard. Dan and I were both working at home while managing schooling and toddler-wrangling and RV travel. It was a lot.
What We’re Doing For School This Year
That said, I truly would’ve happily chosen homeschool again if my kids wanted to do it. It was so fun to explore and learn together and to pursue individual interests.
But my kids wanted to go back to in-person school. We really love our neighborhood school and the teachers and staff. My kids also saw a lot of advantages to learning at home, but in the end, decided they wanted to be in a classroom with friends and peers, and I wanted to support that.
Happily, it’s worked out well for our schedules, and all three of my kids got AMAZING teachers. I feel so so grateful to them – they’re already challenging them and connecting with them and truly teaching them as individuals. I am so thankful.
What We Chose For Preschool
With my “big” kids headed back to public school, we also wanted to figure something out for our almost-4 year old. My other kids started preschool when they were 3, but he obviously didn’t in the last year. My 4th kiddo has really needed some sort of special outlet just for him, especially in the midst of a year when he’s gotten much less attention than his siblings did at that age since we were focused on so many other things.
So we found a delightful little church preschool nearby and he was over-the-moon excited to go visit. We loved that they do a monthly cooking class, weekly music time, have lots of play, and have an extended-day lunch options. He’s going 3 mornings per week and it’s perfect for him. He was ridiculously delighted to find his very own name on his bag, hook, cubby, and more. It’s so nice for a younger kiddo to feel special and important and have his very own school and space!
Home Preschool Learning
For the days he’s at home, we’re also doing a couple of fun learning activities together.
- Learning To Read. He’s been very interested in learning to read (we’re using this book, and here are all the other resources I use to teach my kids to read), so we’re practicing for about 10 minutes each day.
- Read alouds. It’s nice to have some time to read a younger chapter book geared to him instead of the older ones we tend to choose for family read alouds. We’re currently reading this one.
- Violin. I started teaching him the violin a few months ago and we mostly took a break for the summer. It’s so nice to get back to practicing just a few minutes each day. We’re using the same very simple and short lessons in this introductory online violin course I created for young children.
- Play. We’re spending lots of time on free play, both at home (inside with toys and outside in our backyard) as well as going to the playground.
- Math. This will mostly look like counting steps up to 100 while we walk to the park, and doing some fun numbers sequencing puzzles (I love this train one). We’ll also do some simple addition and subtraction while cooking, or if numbers come up naturally in conversation to keep it engaging and fun.
Our Morning Nanny
Finally, on the mornings our preschooler is at school, a nanny will come and hang out with baby M so Dan and I can work. We are so grateful to have found a wonderful nanny through this site who is trained in a preschool setting, has nannied for other families, and will be engaging and fantastic for her. We’ve used this site to find babysitters in the past and have always had great experiences, so I have high hopes that this will be a great fit.
She’ll also do dropoff and pickup for our preschooler, so I’m very excited to minimize the shuttling. And I’m excited for baby M to get some dedicated book reading, play, and more!
We’re really thankful that all of our care providers are vaccinated and also comfortable and supportive of masks indoors. It feels like a safe option for our family that I hope continues to work out.
I’d love to hear more of what you’re doing this year, and feel free to let me know if you have any questions about our setup!
It’s so nice that the older kids are able to choose what they’d like to do this year – and that they got to experience new types of learning! My preschooler is headed to a church preschool this year too. He’s a fall birthday, so even though he’s almost 4 this would have been his first year of preschool either way! I hope everyone enjoys back to school.
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