…as usual. Bella’s attitude is this: “if it can be done with Nikolai, it should be done with Nikolai.”

Continue reading Helpful


Bella’s School

I haven’t updated on Bella’s schooling lately. We actually haven’t done much in the past two months. I decided to go with more of an “unschooling” approach than I had been. Bella liked school and wants to learn, so I thought she would ask to “do school,” as she puts it. My plan was to not do specific letter/color/number/etc. oriented teaching unless she asked, but to continue our usual baking/cooking/cleaning/life “teaching.”

My plan went awry.

It turns out that Bella is quite content to just play with Declan. She doesn’t ask to learn something new unless she is reading an alphabet book, in which case she wants me to teach her all of the letters right then. She also started “acting out” more often (Bella? Bad? Never!) and had way more unused energy. And with this two-month-long experiment, I learned something. I should have stuck with what we were doing. Yes, it took extra time. Yes, it took extra thought. Yes, sometimes we did skip a day or two because it just wasn’t fun or convenient then. But it worked.

Bella is the type of child who needs more structure than just the breakfast, lunch, nap, supper, bath, bedtime routine. I’m not going to plan our days down to the minute; no “math at 8:15, letters at 8:35, shapes and colors at 9:05” stuff for my family! However, I am going to have a plan for each week.

We are going back to school. Bella and I both need it!

Homeschool Preschool, Day 1

Bella and I both really enjoyed school today! We started with singing our Bible verse – Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth” – to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?” We then read parts of the creation story, days 1-3 using numbers with creation pictures in them. Every time “God saw that it was good,” we did a thumbs-up. Continue reading Homeschool Preschool, Day 1

“Look At What I’m Learning!” Board

I made a simple board to display what Bella is learning each week. It is currently hanging on my kitchen wall, thanks to Danny. 🙂 The ABC Jesus Loves Me website has a printable page that can be used for the same purpose, but we don’t need more papers around, and I wanted way to display her work. I found the idea of using poster board on Baby Gator University and loved it!

When I was shopping for my poster board, I saw the foam board and decided that it would hold up better.

Once home, I started by doing a basic layout of my board. I knew I wanted places for  Math, Number, Letter, Bible Story, Bible Verse, and Song. I also knew I wanted a title- “Look At What I’m Learning!” and her name. So I took what I had and arranged it until it all fit. I then glued clothespins onto the board using a hot glue gun. I used scrap booking tape “tabs” for the headings. The picture above is the board BEFORE we did anything; notice how all of the coloring pages are blank?

As Bella does paintings, drawing, coloring, etc… I will hang them up. I also added one more clothes pin to the left of the pipe cleaner letters- I’ll use it for anything that doesn’t fit under a heading. After having completed this board, I will say that I think it would be better to buy TWO foam boards instead of one and stack them one on top of the other for more space. With the way mine is, I have enough room for about 1/2 sheet of paper under each clothespin.

Tactile (or Sensory) Letters and Numbers

With Bella starting “school” , I needed a way to teach her the letters and numbers. However, her fine motor skills are not quite up to writing letters yet. We’re soooo close, but still not there. So as an alternative to writing, we are using “tactile” letters. The idea is that you teach the child to trace the letters with their fingers; the texture of the letters grabs their attention more than a simple printout letter would. The ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum suggests using yarn, glitter, or sandpaper for the letters. Yarn is difficult. Glitter is messy. (Thank you, Danny for reminding me of that fact!) Sandpaper is a little too expensive.

We used pipe cleaners.

Continue reading Tactile (or Sensory) Letters and Numbers

Bella is starting “school”!

After a reading “Parenting on a Penny: Affordable (Or Free!) Preschool Resources” written by Erin at The Humbled Homemaker, I decided Bella would start pre-school on Monday. No, I’m not sending her to a daycare; we’re doing it at home!

Danny and I have talked about the pros and cons of sending our children to a Christian school since Bella was born. (Yes, parents DO think ahead!) We finally decided (tentatively) to home school. Danny was home schooled throughout most of his school years. I grew up in a Christian school, so it was a harder idea for me.

When I was pregnant with Declan, my midwife told us about her children’s school, an “unschooling” school. The basic principle of unschooling is that children do not need books – specifically a curriculum with a set schedule and a set amount of paper work – to learn. Children learn through wanting to learn and doing. For more information on unschooling, read “What is Unschooling?” 

Danny and I were intrigued. Especially after we read “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Learn.” We could see the good points of unschooling… but also the bad. I don’t want my children to be 13 years old and not be able to read because they prefer to look at the pictures. (Okay, that’s a little extreme, but you get the point.) So, until this week, I was stumped. I didn’t know what curriculum – if any – I would follow when Bella was starting school.

Now I have a plan. We are going to combine traditional schooling with unschooling. I am going to follow the ABC Jesus Love Me curriculum for the most part, but also continue with our normal activities: cleaning, cooking, reading books together, just interacting. As her interests grow and change, our studies will grow and change. Books and papers are great, but we will try to use other methods of learning. 1+1+1=1 is also going to be a great resource for me. We are going to do a lot of hands-on learning, which is the best kind for small children.

I know she’s learning without the books. She can tell you most of the ingredients for most of my dishes- pizza, bread, cookies, cakes, etc. She can give basics on how to cook rice, eggs, and pasta. She can tell you her colors and shapes. She can count to 14 very well, and with guidance can count to 100. (I have to name the 10’s place, she can count the 1-9 with the correct ten’s place attached.) She knows her letters up to E very well, and we are working on F and G. She knows a lot just by watching and participating; with teaching she will learn more. We are starting a wonderful journey on Monday. I so look forward to spending more time with my intelligent daughter!