With the world all sorts of crazy right now, it’s helpful to step away from the madness in order to reflect on and appreciate some of life’s sweetness. I have enjoyed embracing Tsh Oxenreider’s “Good List” prompt of recognizing the good within four categories—a thing, a philosophy, a habit, and a work of art.

Since much of my life these days revolves around homeschooling Charleston (itself something topping my Good List!), I thought it would be fun to share from these four categories as they relate to our homeschooling life. Here is our homeschool good list in the fall of 2020:

A work of art: an alphabet quilt.

My amazingly talented mother-in-law included the most adorable quilt in Charleston’s First Day of Kindergarten care package, and our family agrees it’s one of our favorite quilts of the dozens she’s made us over the years. Crafted from 1930s-inspired fabrics, it is colorful and cheery and has served as a play mat, a blanket, a show-and-tell piece*, and a helpful tool in alphabet-related games as Charleston and I practice his letters and sounds. 

*Per Charleston’s request, we have show-and-tell in our little home classroom every Monday. I’m thankful for technology that allows us to share videos of these little demonstrations with people beyond our little class of one! 

A habit: one book per week.

Of the many habits and routines we’ve woven into our homeschool days and weeks, the practice of studying one picture book weekly is a hands-down favorite. While we continue to read a variety of books during our free reading time, I choose one high-quality book every week to be our focus. We read it once daily, and each day we follow up our reading by focusing on a different literature skill (characters, setting, story arc, asking/answering questions, vocabulary, etc.). Throughout the week, Charleston does activities and crafts related to the book, and on Fridays he gives an oral book report (recorded and shared with the grandparents, of course). 

A thing: math manipulatives.

I picked up this set of rainbow-hued linking cubes for less than $15, and they have been an invaluable resource as Charleston learns addition, subtraction, and number sense. These cubes have added a much-needed element of fun to our math lessons, and Charleston enjoys playing and building with the blocks outside of our school time. The set even came with a helpful activity guide for how the blocks can be used for teaching more advanced concepts, such as algebra and geometry.

A philosophy: learning is more important than checklists, and relationship is most important of all. 

As a former classroom teacher and a Type A, it’s easy for me to fall into the trap of simply moving through our daily curriculum without focusing on genuine learning. But a great benefit of homeschooling—and one of our primary motivators for choosing to do so—is that it allows us to move at Charleston’s pace, NOT one dictated by textbook timelines and schedules. Homeschooling also gives us the freedom to set official lessons aside for the day in order to engage in activities or outings that ultimately will serve Charleston better academically, socially, and spiritually. As this school year progresses, I am trying to be more intentional about capitalizing on these nontraditional teaching opportunities and giving myself grace when a true-learning moment or a needed mental health day pushes our school plans out the window for the time being. 

Another, somewhat related philosophy I’ve been clinging to is the notion that my role as Charleston’s mom comes before my role as his teacher. I never want to compromise my trust with him or our comfortable dynamic because I’m obsessing over getting our schoolwork done for the day. Setting the books and momentary frustration aside for some laughter and hugs is ALWAYS a good plan.

Are you a homeschooler? If so, what is on your homeschooling good list this fall? And if you aren’t teaching your kids at home, what are some non-schooling things, pieces of art, philosophies, or habits that are giving you life this season?

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