Homeschool…Island Style

Something about homeschooling in Hawaii just isn’t conducive to a stringent schedule. Too much of our day is governed by the tide, the trade winds, the sudden urge to hit the beach or the pool…
However, we do have a certain order we tend to do things in. We wake up when we’re done sleeping and have breakfast. Then we start school. Or we don’t due to some of the above mentioned interruptions. We have lunch around lunchtime and finish school. Or we don’t finish so the older boys have to keep working while the younger ones have their nap. Then everyone plays outside with their friends until dinner time which is whenever Dad gets home from work. See how difficult that would be to put into a nice little table with neat little 1/2 hour time slots?

But I do actually have a plan for what particular educational tasks I intend to accomplish each day of the week. Last year we started focussing primarily on one subject each day and it really simplified things, a lot less transitional time wasted, less setup/clean up, and a chance for our brains to really engage a subject in a deeper way. So this year we will be using the same format again. Here’s what it looks like…

We start everyday with devos which includes reciting a little prayer, singing our hymn of the week, reading scripture aloud and learning our memory verse. Then I read their poem of the week and our three older boys get to work on spelling and the youngest does an activity with our letter of the week. The older two are working through Sequential Spelling together and our first grader is working on sight reading words of my own selection.

Math Mondays consist of our morning devos after which I introduce our Letter of the Week which they copy onto their little chalk boards, the youngers in printing, the olders in cursive. Then they copy their memory work into their notebooks and after that it’s nothing but Math. I give them their whole week’s worth of assignments from their Christian Liberty and Modern Curriculum Press books and they have until 3 (that’s when the other neighborhood kids come home from school) to finish it or they can’t go out and play with their friends. We started doing Math only on Mondays last year and found it was a great way to ease into our week by only focusing on one subject that didn’t require any teacher prep and it saved me from facing the “I don’t want to do Math battle” everyday.

Textbook Tuesdays start with our morning devos and spelling and then I read aloud that week’s section out of the Apologia science textbook while the boys color in their bird coloring books and we work together on the chapter assignments. Then the older two do their week’s worth of reading and assignments out of their Rod & Staff Building Christian English textbooks while I spend some time with our first-grader in his Abeka phonics text.

Reading/Writing Wednesdays begin with devos and spelling then it’s on to writing in their notebooking journals. Then it’s Modern Curriculum Press phonics workbooks for the younger two and handwriting, composition, and independent reading for the older two.

Deep-Thought Thursdays start with devos and spelling after which we break out the art supplies and let them illustrate what they’ve been writing about in their notebooking journals. Then it’s time for a fun bird-related activity like a craft, puzzle, or an outing. This year we are also taking the next step in our “Jerusalem, Judea…Ends of the Earth” approach to the social sciences by introducing the study of U.S. Geography into our curriculum. We are doing this through a study of state birds combined with the reading aloud of a book called “How the States Got Their Shapes.” While I read the boys have a variety of state birds and geography themed activity books and puzzles to work on.

Facts-Only Fridays begin with devos and spelling but the rest is reserved for math tests, spelling tests, timeline additions, flashcard work, reciting their memory work (this includes our A-Z memory verse as well as their choice of a little prayer, poem or our hymn of the week) and typing up our blog post.

Dad takes over in the evenings with music (he’s teaching them all the Ukelele and a neighbor has offered to give free piano lessons this year!), P.E. (they all play on a local hockey team and enjoy tennis, golf, soccer, swimming, snorkeling, SUP boarding, and even paddling with Dad’s canoe club in their free time…did I mention running, jumping, climbing, wrestling, rough-housing, and bouncing off the walls? I’m pretty sure that counts as P.E. too), and literature (we’ve decided not to make this a school subject at this point but rather a lifestyle. Reading good books is just what we do.

After 26 weeks, our focus is going to shift from birds and U.S. Geography to a unit on the State of Hawaii. Our oldest will also be doing a state report at this time and our third-grader will be working on his first science project.

So that’s how we do it here on the Big Island, being careful to keep a thorough record of all we do according to this state’s laws. Blogging is a great way to keep a record of our schooling. I was able to download last year’s blogposts onto a disc which was included in the boys’ homeschool file. You can visit that site by clicking here.


25 thoughts on “Homeschool…Island Style

  1. I had a long comment typed here (Are you surprised?! No!) Then I made the mistake of clicking on your 1st picture before posting the comment. My long comment is long gone.

    So, here is the shortened version… sort of…

    I love catching up with you! I just typed in your new address without checking my reader because I miss hearing from you! You are my best blog friend! 🙂 We are still praying and praising for your family and sweet Gideon, so I think about you all often.

    Love seeing what you are doing this year. Neat, scheduled boxes don’t work too well for us either. Learned the hard way! 🙂 WHAT was I thinking?! Island time rocks! “We wake up when we’re done sleeping.” Love it.

    I thoroughly read each page last time I visited, and you amaze me, as always! You make me think! Love reading about the Jerusalem, Judea, … approach to history. I don’t have too much family history that I’d like to revisit, so we are sticking with our Abraham, David, etc family history! Ha ha! You’ve made me really consider plans for now and for the future!

    I don’t enjoy math and getting it all done in one day sounds perfect!

    I thought that you were 4th and 2nd Grade this year. You have a 3rd grader? That’s what Leven and Catherine will be working on this year. I guess I’ve gotten confused.

    Well, it looks like a great year in store for you! You are one amazing mom! Is that Arkansas on your plans?! Can we help with anything? Send souvenirs your way? 🙂 Blessings for a super year!

    The coffee looks delicious!

    1. Hi friend! My oldest 2 are 18 months apart so yeah, we have one in 4th grade, 3rd grade, 1st grade, and a pre-K, oh yeah, and the 3 week-old muffin (but mostly he just eats and sleeps…thank the Lord!). We’ve got Arkansas slated for week 2, so if you want to email us some fun facts on your fine state that would be awesome! Oh, and just a teensy, weensy disclaimer…school doesn’t actually start for us until next week, so as impressed as you might have been by the confident tone of my planning…none of it has actually been put to the test yet…:)

  2. #1 – So glad I finally found your blog!
    #2 – I’ll have to hook up with I Have No Greater Joy because she writes nearly as many words as I do and obviously loves you, too (in a blog-friend kind of way) … and we picked the same things to comment on. I literally lol’d when I read “We wake up when we’re done sleeping.” That’s when we get up, too! (In Ohio.)
    #3 – Can’t wait to read more, but I’m only down one cup of coffee and the day is moving on without me. Better wait until later to read. :/

    1. Courageous Jane! I’m glad you found us, too!
      #1 – You really do need to hook up with I Have No Greater Joy because you are both awesome!
      #2 – I’m glad to hear someone else believes in getting up when you’re done sleeping. Now please tell me how I can get everyone in the house to be done sleeping at the same time, preferably right after I’ve showered, had some quiet time, and at least 2 cups of coffee 🙂

      1. Definitely! My husband works swing so some of them like to be awake when he gets home. Some can’t make it that late. We have lots of dif ages so everyone hits the hay at dif times. For the most part the little boys are in bed by 1030 and the teen girls by midnight.

  3. I love your Math Mondays idea! I feel like I’m fighting everyday with the boys about their math. I might try a modified version of that this year so they have 1 or 2 non-math days. Thanks for the idea, sis-in-law! 🙂 Excited to see how your year goes. We start on Tuesday also.

    1. Sounds like giving Mama a hard time might be in their DNA. 🙂 I’ll let the boys know their cousins will be starting on the same day. Blessings to you on your school year!

    1. Thanks Christie! I owe that one to my husband, the English major. He’s great at reading aloud to the boys every night and instead of your typical bedtime stories he chooses classics that have some sort of adventure in them he knows the boys will like. Most of the time, they’re way above our sons’ grade/reading level and sometimes parts are above their comprehension level but they’re getting exposed to really good quality writing that way and soaking in some precious time with Dad. I want them to really enjoy good literature and be able to think about, talk about and write about what they’re reading without it being a dreaded assignment. So we do all that casually as part of our everyday family life instead of incorporating it as a school subject.

  4. This is such a great idea. I am so NOT a schedule person; this would be way more manageable for me when Bean is of school age than trying to cram everything in every or every other day, or trying to maintain a daily schedule. Routines are definitely more my speed and this seems like a good one. 🙂

    1. Thanks Tara! I found with a traditional schedule that I was getting overwhelmed by all the prep, set-up & clean-up required to do each subject for a short time each day. It’s so much easier for me the night before to think about getting ready for one subject instead of five!

  5. I’m late to the party, but I’m looking forward to slowly making my way through your blog! I like the way you’ve decided that the schedule was created for man, and not man for the schedule! 🙂

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