I consider myself to have been a home schooling mother for over 14 years, now. I begin by reading the Bible to my children while they are in-utero, and then we do small lessons for their age, starting at birth, with certain colored baby toys, etc. Before they are four, they know the letters and their sounds, the colors, shapes, how to count to at least 20 or higher, etc. At age four, they learn how to read and write. All of my children learned to successfully read at age four. That is a great age to sit down with your child and teach them phonics. They can retain and can be very receptive at that age, if you are patient.
If you've read much of my stuff, then you know that I lean towards the Trivium, or classical approach in schooling my children. I am not strictly Trivium, but that is probably the closest box you can put me in.
These days in home school, I have two in elementary grades, one doing Jr. high, and one doing high school. We do most of our formal schooling at the dining room table. On one of the dining room walls is a large, dry-erase, whiteboard. On it I list the children's main assignments for the day, do example math problems, keep track of their Bible assignments and our family Bible studies, and more.
I mentioned that I keep a list of the children's main assignments for the day on the whiteboard. I do not list all of their assignments. For example, I don't list our family read aloud time, or the lessons my husband gives in the evenings, etc. However, the children love the list. Each child has their own color of dry-erase marker, and as they finish each assignment, they put a little mark next to the item on the list. This is handy for me as well, because this means I don't have to look in their workbaskets or interrogate them on what they've finished yet. I can just look on the whiteboard and see what is checked off, and in what color, and then I know which child has finished what. The children also like that they can do that list of assignments in whatever order they'd prefer, and it doesn't have to be in the order listed.
Each evening, I set up the next day's schoolwork. Included in that setup is making sure the list for the next day is on the board, and ready for the children to utilize. When I write specific assignments on the board for specific children, I write it in their assigned color. This way, I don't need to use up space writing their names. They see their color on the board, and they know it's for them.
I have two small sets of wire shelves I keep against the wall in our home school area. One has three shelves, and that is where I keep my teacher's manuals, our current read aloud book, and books that the children and I go through together, etc. The other set of small shelves are more like wire baskets connected to little shelves. Each child has their own wire basket shelf. Each evening, when I am setting up for the next day's school, I put in the books, charts, worksheets, and papers needed for each child, in their assigned shelf.
In the morning, the children begin with their listed assignments until breakfast is ready. Then, we clear the books off of the table and eat, then do quick table chores, and back to schoolwork. When each child finishes an assignment, it is returned to their basket shelf, and later in the day, I take the completed work from the shelves, and "grade" them. I don't actually give a letter grade or percentage score. Instead, if one or more thing is wrong on the page, I mark it with a 'W.' If it is illegible, then I mark it with an 'I,' etc. Then, I call the child over to make the needed corrections. They are done with home school for the day when all assignments are completed and are completely correct.
Some assignments on the board require me to teach or explain, before they can do that assignment. I usually do this during the morning hours. Then, if the kids have any questions, or I find I need to explain and expound on something more, then that occurs through out the day as and when needed.
One of the reasons I love teaching my children to read when they are four, is that I think it makes home schooling overall easier. My children can sit down with a book, read an assigned amount, then come and tell back to me what they read in their own words, or when older, can write it down in their own words, and illustrate it with a picture, graph, or chart.
I don't utilize the comprehension questions at the ends of chapters and sections in textbooks such as science or history. Instead, the children make narration pages. They tell back what they read either out loud to me, to a sibling, or just in their mind, and then they write it down. I believe children absorb and learn more of the material this way, rather than just trying to memorize answers to dry questions. Learning in this manner leads the child to form an interest in the material presented, and assimilate it as a whole, rather than cramming rote info into their minds, simply to pass a test, then later forgetting a percentage of what they supposedly learned.
How do you home school?