first grade homeschool :: weeks 4 through 6

She illustrated and wrote all of the parts of the seasons calendar herself, and was so proud.  I just made the circles and went over the words in sharpie.  It is now cut out and attached to a piece of cardboard with a brad so we can spin it.

 practice, practice, practice

 we have a tendency to really spread out!

 she is working hard on compiling a species list of birds that she can continue to add to and illustrate

I finally stopped procrastinating and spent approximately 2 minutes filling out an online form in order to register our homeschool with the state.  I'm not sure why it took me so long, but now it's done.  We are now officially White Oaks Schoolhouse.  There are three large white oaks in our front yard (they are big players all around the neighborhood) and I knew I wanted to go with a plant/tree name, so it seemed a natural choice.  We got a little hung up on Academy vs. School vs. Schoolhouse, and I admit in the end I just filled out the form with the one I personally most preferred.  Academy seemed a bit much, school seemed not enough, and I found schoolhouse quite charming in a simple and old-fashioned kind of way.  Plus, well...... it's a school in a house, so it seems fitting.

Our last few weeks have continued along in much the same fashion as the first few.  We are finding our groove, learning how to go with the flow, and working to create an overall balance.  And truly, I think we've just about got it.

We are continuing with our routine of meeting at the dining table not long after she rises, and we get started on a bit of schoolwork before breakfast (or while I am making breakfast) and then continue afterwards, typically for a total of 1.5-2.5 hours (though that is flexible, naturally, in the event of horseback riding lessons, walks to the library, hikes, visits with nana, etc).

Recently she has done a lot of practicing her lowercase letter formation and practicing letter blends. We are also just getting started with cursive.  She thinks it is fancy, of course, and even asked me how to 'speak in cursive', which I thought was pretty cute.  She continues to love the Explode the Code workbooks and has worked through books 1 and 1 1/2 and is now a few lessons into book 2.  We have been reading chapter books at bedtime for a couple years now, and last night we finished the second book of the Birchbark House series (oh she is loving that Omakayas!) and tonight we started The Little Prince (which I've never read before and I kept finding myself wondering if it was totally bizarre to her but she seemed really into it).

Math lately has been a lot of addition/math facts worksheets, (>, <, =), figuring out the missing addend, playing shut-the-box, and reviewing geometric solids.  We also do some counting of coins and place value work, and I remain on the fence as to whether or not I will order a math curriculum at this point.  I'm thinking maybe next year, but we'll see.  I both don't want to miss some-big-something she'll need to know and also don't want to forget that she is but 6 years old.  Balance.

Our geography/history focus has been on North America lately and will be for a while.  We've read lots about the crossing of the land bridge and about the first people of our continent.  We focused on Greenland for a week (and I learned way more about the country than I ever knew before), and are finishing up some reading on Canada before moving on to the United States (which I imagine we will stay focused on for some time) later this week.

Aside from some fun, dynamic discussions (globe in hand, pretending the table was the sun, etc.) about day/night and seasons, and some more talk about food chains and the difference between being endangered and being extinct, our science and nature study lately has been largely focused on observations and identification of butterflies, spiders, and birds. We successfully raised and released 4 monarchs, have been watching all the butterflies in the yard, and happily found that a garden spider has spun her beautiful web in a place that is easy for us to observe her, which we have been doing several times a day.  The thing I'm loving most about homeschooling is the way we can so easily and naturally move in whatever direction we are called to move in.  Our monarch raising led to other butterfly observations, which led us to spy the spider, which led to learning about the parts of a spider, and so on.  I keep being so pleasantly surprised by the way things just lead into one another so effortlessly, but I suppose I ought not to be since that is, after all, the beauty of it and perhaps the very nature of learning when it is allowed some flexibility.

Another thing we are really enjoying is memorizing seasonal verses.  We are particularly loving the ones pictured above (my favorite is the one by Robert Louis Stevenson, hers the one by F.D. Sheeman) as well as this one, which we'd memorized last fall and came back to:
Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves,
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves;
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white.
Autumn, good morning!
Summer, good night!

-Florence Hoatson
All in all, this is what our days are looking like.  I'd like to do some more home-ec stuff like baking and cooking and handwork, etc. and so I plan to work that in a bit more (though no doubt our cider pressing last week would have filled that category nicely- I suppose we really are doing that I'm just not looking at it as 'school' now that we have gotten so much more organized regarding lessons, etc).  I'd also like to focus a bit more on music (maybe get her signed up for lessons with some instrument of her choosing- something aside from our fiddling together on the ukuleles- which is totally fun but I know it'd be good for her to have another non-parent mentor and teacher). 
We get quite a bit of schoolwork done in not a terribly long amount of time, and then we have our late morning-early afternoon somewhat free before heading to work to do art with kids.  It's working, I love it, I am beyond grateful that we are able to make it work, and really, I am learning so much myself.  What fun.  If you are homeschooling your kids (or if you are not) I'd love to hear about the routines, rhythms, etc. that you are most enjoying with your own kiddos.  Are there resources and references that you love most and find yourself going back to more than others?  Favorite children's literature magazines?  Favorite educational games or tools?  Favorite online subscriptions/'clubs'?  Let's inspire one another and keep the support and encouragement flowing!  I would love to have an ongoing discussion, if anyone is interested.


  1. So much to love in this post - and late Happy Birthday!!! What are you using for your butterfly guide at the top? And also, from where are your seasonal verses? Claire's handwriting is so nice!

    1. thank you!

      the butterfly field guide pictured is the Golden Guide to Butterflies and Moths (https://www.amazon.com/Butterflies-Moths-Golden-Guide-Martins/dp/1582381364).

      I've been finding the verses here and there on the internet, but have found it super easy to find several at once if I do a pinterest search for "Waldorf Seasonal Verses" or "Seasonal Poems"- I still have to weed through a lot, but there are plenty of good ones hidden in there. Here's my homeschool board so far, with the seasonal verses I've saved up to this point: https://www.pinterest.com/awriley/homeschoolish/

      thanks! she is working HARD.

  2. Hi Amanda! I really enjoyed reading your post about your homeschooling experiences with Claire. I'm also a homeschooling mother. I have two boys, ages 7 and 9. So much of what you write about resonates with me.

    I love the fact that you're memorizing seasonal poems. I like to focus on the seasons with my boys. In fact, I had my 9 year old write a poem about September last week. I had the idea to have him write a poem for each month and then make a book out of it. We'll see how that goes! Where do you find your poems?

    Have you tried any of the Handwriting Without Tears books? My boys seem to like them for penmanship.

    At the moment, we're focusing on European geography and the middle ages. This has been fun because it has led us to read some of the legends of King Arthur as well as several Shakespeare plays (written for kids). I also just bought a "pin-it map" kit to use with them for geography stuff.

    Also, last year my son and I really got into bird watching. We actually watched birds at our feeder for about 10 minutes each day and then he would graph what he saw. He ended up making a bird book with pictures of birds and facts written about them. It was a lot of fun!

    It sounds like you're doing a fabulous job. Like you, I want to include cooking and art in our school days. For me, the biggest challenge is not stressing that I'm not doing enough. Even though I know that we're doing plenty, I find myself worrying about this.

    I look forward to your future posts!

    1. Hi Maggie! Thanks for your kind words, and for sharing about your homeschool days with your sons.

      So far I have been finding most of the verses through pinterest- searching for 'waldorf seasonal verses' or 'seasonal poems' seems to yield the ones I am most enjoying. (my homeschool board with some of the saved verses are here, if you are interested: https://www.pinterest.com/awriley/homeschoolish/).

      A friend of mine passed on one of her Handwriting Without Tears teaching guides, the Kindergarten one I believe, and I did use that for the order in which to introduce the lowercase letters and I found it helpful. Aside from that, we haven't used it much- but I am holding onto it and plan to keep referring to it from time to time for pointers, and I may purchase a student workbook for Claire now that I know how much she seems to like workbooks!

      Your European geography (etc.) focus sounds really interesting~ I can see how that would naturally lead you in all sorts of fun and varied directions for sure. And these books you are doing with your sons sound great- the poems and the birds..... what a fun way for them to compile what they are learning in a nice, dynamic, and easily savable format. I also really like the idea of graphing the birds at the feeder- we have a feeder hanging right outside Claire's window, so I think we just may have to try that ourselves!

      I remind myself that the cooking/art/etc often happens naturally throughout the day anyway, whether or not I consider it a 'school' thing or not. It is easy to stop and worry from time to time, for sure- but then I try to remind myself how rich her individual educational experiences can be (whether we cover lots of things in a day or just focus on one very specific thing), and it reassures me a bit. It sounds like your sons are enjoying their homeschool experience, and like you are providing a great educational environment for them!

      thanks again for sharing your thoughts :)

    2. Thanks for sharing your pinterest homeschool board with me! It will be so helpful and useful! Happy weekending!

    3. you are so welcome! I've been spending a lot of time fidgeting around there lately, looking for new inspiration and weeding through old pins. lots of good stuff out there!

  3. I didn't know you had to name your school, that's kind of cool in a way! I love the photos where the table is filled with papers and writings and art supplies :) That is the best part of childhood and adulthood!!

    1. I think it varies state to state. Here in NC, you must register as a homeschool and if you don't choose a name yourself, your school automatically becomes "yourlastname school".

      That is what our table looks like most mornings, just with various papers and books scattered all over- I love it, too. And I am working at putting it all away after 'school' is done for the day, but I have a ways to go ;)

  4. Amanda, If only I had a young child at home to homeschool:)...we would be sharing and learning along with you. However, both of my children are grown and both are now teachers in the school system in Kansas. I was never able to homeschool, but thru the years we always supplemented their education with lots of additional home learning and all of our vacations were educational...Dinosaur, CO, following the Pony Express, the Mississippi, the Oregon Trail, etc. etc. We had bookshelves and bookshelves of reference and I learned right along with them. Every summer, our dining room turned into the science room. Most weeks now, my daughter comes home with lists of things she finds in our craft supplies to use in her classroom. It is always fun. I am so thrilled that you are living this dream and plan to follow your posts on it. Your writing and teaching style remind me somewhat of Kim's from Mothering with Mindfulness, so I am enjoying following both of you on this journey, even though I have no one to homeschool:( Thanks so much for the sharing and keep up the great job with Claire. I can tell she is a very willing student!

    1. Oh it sounds like you had such fun with your kids as they were growing up and that you were exploring and learning right alongside them! That is exactly what I hope to do with Claire :)

      I consider that a compliment~ I know Kim (well, I 'online' know her) and I enjoy her writing.

      A willing student, indeed! (well, maybe except for when we've just gotten a new audiobook and that's all she wants to pay attention to for the next several hours) ;)

  5. Amanda, I love this post. You all are doing great work! I am so impressed - your school looks beautiful and sound like a great experience. Love the school name too!


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~