My recent posts about my current “homeschooling-rut” have been therapeutic for me to write. I’m still searching for a better math fit and I’m steadily working my way out of my current sense of homeschool-ennui. In writing these posts I realized it’s pretty easy to focus on the negative when you’re in a funk. Once you pass over a certain threshold it’s hard to get out. It’s like being bogged down in “Le Curricula Tar Pits” and once you step foot there- you’re stuck.
It’s hard to extricate yourself from such a sticky situation. I’ve decided that the key to breaking free is to take my energy and inner-analysis and focus it on the positives in my routine and quit freaking out about the other stuff. Who knows? Maybe highlighting the things that are not only working- but working WELL will be just the push I need. (Some of the following links are affiliate links, just FYI.)
So first up is All About Spelling and All About Reading. It’s been awhile since I gave an update and now that we’re incorporating 3! of their programs at once I figured I’d share with you how I tweak these products to work for my family. I hear from some folks who think it would be too hard to juggle these programs for multiple children in their home and I want to show you that not only is it possible- but it’s extremely rewarding. Both All About Spelling (AAS) and All About Reading (AAR) are scripted curricula. That means they are parent-intensive. It’s not the sort of curricula where you just throw a workbook at your kid and hope it sticks. This requires active parent participation (and in the case of AAR’s PreReading Program it also involves puppet participation).
But just because it’s parent intensive doesn’t mean these resources take tons of times to plan or prepare. In fact, I personally take little to no time to prepare. Yes, you heard me correctly.
Most days I just take a minute or two to preview the lesson prior to starting and make sure I have any coordinated activity pages or new learning tiles if needed. But really, the resources are written so you can just pop it open and go.
- One of the biggest components to AAS and AAR is the use of the colored magnetic tiles which allows for tactile learning. The use of our Magnetic Board is a staple for our lessons. Here I have all the tiles prominently displayed.
My younger children focus on just the vowel and consonant tiles while Mira utilizes the complete set in her lessons. So far, this hasn’t overwhelmed my younger kids and it saves me time by not having to take off and put on different sets of tiles repeatedly.
- Stagger your heavier subjects into more manageable bits. Spelling and math are two of the meatier subjects in our school and I try to plan them in a way that won’t overload my kids OR myself.
Since Mira is the oldest and currently the only one of my children “officially” school-aged she gets the most rigorous schedule. Mira is in 2nd grade and we do spelling three days a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for about 20-25 minutes a lesson. In order to avoid constant interruptions during Mira’s lesson I place my younger children on their laptops where they play More.Starfall.com or TeachYourMonsterToRead.com which supplements their own reading lessons. (When they were younger they would watch a LeapFrog video in another room.) Since math is being done everyday, these three days tend to last a bit longer than the rest of our week. Therefore I utilize the off days on Tuesdays and Thursdays to work my younger girls with their AAR lessons instead of doing it all on the same days.
- Use your children as teacher’s assistants while reinforcing their learning.
I’m always amazed at how happily my girls volunteer to help me teach their siblings. They enjoy assuming the role of teacher’s helper and I can use it as a way to reinforce their own learning. For example, it took Stella awhile to grasp rhyming. It was a concept she really struggled with for a long time. Last week Lyra had her first rhyming lesson and I realized I could ask Stella for her help in directing the lesson while surreptitiously using it as opportunity to review her.
As those of you homeschooling multiple children already know, some days will play out more fluidly than others. The key to success is being open to change and adapt as needed. Some days your younger children might not want to be contained elsewhere while your conducting a lesson for an older child. Be flexible. Try to find a way to layer your lesson and incorporate them all.
Layering is an awesome way to keep all students in your one-room school house happy and the more you do it the more you’ll find layering opportunities pop up.
Layering doesn’t always have to be as involved as having a student help with the meat of a lesson; it can be as simple as having everyone illustrate one of the older student’s dictation sentences.
For my family, All About Spelling and All About Reading have become highlights of our week. I look forward to it because it’s simple to plan yet a rigorous and thorough approach to teaching spelling; while my girls look forward to their lessons because of the ease and fun with which they learn them.
Do you currently use any All About Learning Press resources? Or are you looking to try them out for the first time? Good news! Later this week I’ll be hosting a GIVEAWAY where you can enter for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate to All About Learning!
Stay tuned for my upcoming post on how I tweak these resources to cater to my children’s unique individual learning styles!