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1 month in...

I've gotten so many questions from family, friends, loved ones, and of course, concerned individuals, about how I'm homeschooling. Some of the pictures in this blog post have actually been shared on the Kids Xing IG page. What follows in this post is an elaboration of our experience as novice homeschoolers. This is part of our journey. This is what homeschooling likes like for us. This is our #HomeSchoolChronicles

SEPTEMBER always rings the start of something new

First things first...when & how to start

We decided to follow our county school calendar, so homeschool for the boys started on Tuesday, September 5, 2017. We also decided to use a "readymade" homeschool curricula for 1st and 5th grades. No, I was not about to go around putting together a homeschool curriculum all by myself. First, I did not have the time to delve into it, and second, I had no business venturing into it, with my limited expertise in educating elementary-level kids. I made a ridiculous amount of phone calls to my many friends with years of experience homeschooling their kids, including a previous professor of mine who made is seem so effortless juggling a graduate teaching career and homeschooling. What I took to be her greatest advise was "run far away from anyone who tells you that you do not need a curriculum for homeschooling." This is how I knew I was on the right track.

The Hubs and I compared different options. Poured ourselves into the different offerings: Singapore Math (aka Common Core) versus traditional mathematices etc. We interviewed the sales reps for homeschools. We wanted to ensure that whatever curriculum we decided on was the very best for our kids: one with limited screen-teaching (you know, one where the kid is pretty much being taught by a teacher on the screen 80-90% of the time), and access to an education advisor (aka counselor) to lean on ever so often. At the end, we decided on Calvert Education. It just seemed to be the best fit for us.

The homeschool curricula in a box...two, to be exact

My response to whether or not this is the very best curriculum on the market is: it's the very best curricula for our family. It's working very well for us. One of the things I appreciate about it is the placement test the kids took before we purchased the curricula. This gave us a good idea of where they are in their math and language arts skills.

Our daily routine

Confession...I was so scared of failure at this homeschool business that I put the kids through 2 weeks of a "practice" homeschool schedule. Poor kids! For 2 weeks, the last two of their summer fun, no less, they were up by 7:30 am, showered up by 8 am, had breakfast by 8:30 am, and began their daily educational lessons at the learning center...Kids Xing Learning Center that is. We began with "Circle Time," where we dance and sang along to nursery rhymes, to the edification of the then 2-year old and horror of my 10-year old.

Hanif al-Amin, hard at work

We would then review the date and day of the week - for some reason, this was important to me because I was afraid they'd miss out on something that basic since they were no longer in a formal classroom - and the day's objectives. What followed included a review of some basic teachings such as the alphabets, numbers, and colors - again, little Abdullah (the youngest) loved it, Hanif (the middle child) was okay with it, and, again, this irritated Umar (the eldest) a great deal. My response to this was to explain to him that our homeschool method is intent on helping educate each other.

Umar al-Farouq with the Qur'an teacher

After the Circle Time routine, I'd separate the kids: the youngest was off to play and the other two off to their respective desks.This rigid schedule only lasted a couple of weeks. I've since then relaxed a bit...I had to, or risk the kids loathing homeschool. I still get them up early, but my real teaching starts between 9:30 and 10 am. We go hard on Mondays and Thursdays! No out-of-the-home activities mean we're at the learning center until about 6 / 7 pm, typically covering 3 days worth of math and core lessons...with plenty of breaks in between!

Tuesdays are swim days for all three kids and STEM class for the eldest. And Thursday is reading class for the youngest at the library, library exploration day for the older two and tennis lesson in the afternoon. We're out and about pretty much all day on both days.

There you have it...our homeschool day, week, and month in a nutshell. This is our very own #homeschoolchronicles. So far, it's been a journey filled with plenty of thrills: from the excitement of getting our books and supplies in the mail, to adventurous lunchtime and recess fun. My next challenge, starting this week, is to balance homeschooling with my doctoral coursework.

Fortunately, I've had a week to work out the kinks in teaching the kids, now I must figure out how to make study time a priority for me. Fingers crossed!!!

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