We have mostly homeschooled since my daughter was born (almost ten years ago), but this season marks a return to homeschooling after worldschooling in Lyon, France, last fall. The previous year was also quite a different experience as our children attended a private school three days a week while I taught French. It's refreshing to be homeschooling again after more than a year of formal schooling. Here's what bilingual homeschooling is like for us this year with my four children (from 11 months to almost ten years old):
My infant son wakes me around 7am and I get us both ready for the day—a task that seems to revolve around keeping him from crawling into our walk-in shower while I am in it. My seven-year-old son wakes early and spends his early morning time reading a book or tinkering with robotic parts, having already eaten a small breakfast made by my husband who left earlier. I drink warm lemon water, make a hot breakfast, and help my four-year-old son get dressed before my nearly-ten-year-old daughter joins us and we all eat together. Afterwards the children head to our schoolroom and start a few habits: reading their Bible, checking off their chore chart, noting the weather, making origami, or reading about the bird on our bird-a-day calendar. Meanwhile I make myself a matcha latte and read my Bible for a few precious minutes.
Once I join my kids in the schoolroom, I pray and the kids light a candle to signify the beginning of our morning time together. I help my four-year-old finish charting the weather in his calendar book or using the French perpetual wall calendar, then we all sing. This is my daughter's favorite part of our homeschool! We sing hymns in English (or German songs at Christmastime), then songs in French. We've sung classic French songs and comptines like Au claire de la lune, Christian songs like Si j’étais un papillon, and contemporary kids’ songs like Polyglotte by Henri Dès. Our youngest guy grins broadly when he hears us sing.
Memorization comes next: we recite a Bible passage (like 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 this month), an English poem, a French poem (such as those for children by Marice Carême), a passage from Shakespeare, and math, science, or history facts—often pulled from a Classical Conversations guide. (We're not part of a CC group; I just find inspiration from their lists.) Listening to Mackenzie Koppa’s The Same Page podcast has really streamlined our memorization this year as it helps us with ideas for what to memorize and how to practice reciting. It also allows us to learn about the U.S. Presidents. (Meanwhile, my standing infant is yanking books off his preschool brother's desk faster than a KonMari convert.)
My middle children (boys ages 4 & 7) tend to grow restless during memorization, and my infant needs a morning nap, so I move us into independent work. I get the older two students started on Singapore Math workbooks (in French); my 7-year-old son also works on cursive writing practice using this French cahier while I leave the room to put the infant down for a nap. When I return, I answer math questions and give a French dictation to my daughter. Occasionally we swap dictation for French verb conjugation or we all write letters to worldwide friends.
Other subjects are rotated in on a loop schedule depending on what we've done in prior days. Sometimes we choose a species from the Smithsonian Natural History Guide to draw in our nature notebooks. Other days I read selectively (in English) from Susan Wise Bauer's History of the World (I've stopped trying to translate this on the fly) but I try to supplement this ancient history study with French children's books, from Asterix to documentaries such as les Gaulois. My daughter and I are delighting in learning Latin for the first time using the British Minimus textbook, and I'm still marveling at how our French knowledge has made Latin easy and accessible!
We wrap up morning time with two awesome little calendars that provide handiwork and nature learning: The Cornell Bird-A-Day Calendar has a QR code on each page that lets us immediately hear each bird's songs on my phone, while our Easy Origami Page-A-Day Calendar has helped my older children and I to go from inept and frustrated folders to fairly competent creators. These two little desk calendars have helped to keep each day's learning fresh and joyful!
At lunchtime, I read aloud—either an English novel (like The Wheel on the School) or French stories like the humorous Le Petit Nicolas. If I'm especially hungry we will listen to an audiobook (like a biography from WYAM's Christian Heroes series) so we can all eat at the same time.
My daughter plays violin after lunch, and I encourage the children to play outside afterwards. One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is seeing the creative things they choose to do with their free time. Right now my 4-year-old wants to bake snacks and help cook every meal, my 7-year-old shoots hoops outside using a rope-and-bucket pulley system he has rigged, and my daughter is teaching a neighbor how to rollerblade. My daughter also loves writing stories.
Additional Learning and Activities:
Our local library is a key resource for our learning. I reserve books on a bi-weekly basis (like those from Sarah Mackenzie's monthly picture book suggestions) and the fresh reading is a feast for us all. My two oldest children participated in Sarah's Read Aloud Challenge this past January, and it was awesome to see my son take off in his reading skills. I've also been buying more French books since we discovered more favorites in France during our recent stay, but when I'm not buying books regularly, we love renting them from Les Petits Livres.
My daughter chose to take up horseback riding lessons again this year, and while she always enjoys the lessons, we are looking forward to the longer spring and summer days that will permit her to ride outside the covered arena. This June my three older children will take swim lessons again at our local community college. In the fall my seven-year-old son hopes to begin learning to play the guitar. I will be thrilled to support his musical learning since he didn't take to the violin at a young age as my daughter did.
On Fridays we go to a local elementary school where I help teach English to refugee mamas. I absolutely love this, and I hope it is good for my children to meet these diverse women and to see the importance of helping and of literacy. Friday afternoons we often meet up with friends for outdoor play or a hike.
Reflecting on this season of homeschooling:
Because our homeschooling began directly after we left public school in France in late fall, and with an infant keeping me busy, I wasn't able to plan ahead and map out our learning as I prefer—I just launched into our home learning rhythms the best I could using resources we already had. Nonetheless, we've found our morning time rhythm and it has helped us to be consistent in doing memory work, math, and language studies. I would love to prepare more hands-on math learning, and to use more visuals with our history curriculum. I would also like to get back to regularly testing out experiments from our Mason Jar Science book. Finally, I feel that learning for my four-year-old has been overlooked a bit since I don't push academics at his age, but I'd like him to have more manipulatives and activities to do just so he enjoys our learning time rather than seeing it as something he has to do alongside his older siblings.
I've included our current favorite resources for learning here in this post (some as affiliate links). What do you love about your educational experiences this year? What area of learning do you most enjoy focusing on?