I started teaching Elias first grade in Oklahoma in July. We moved to New Zealand in August and are now over half way through! It has been a learning experience for both of us, very fun, but also challenging.
We chose to homeschool for a variety of reasons, one of them was that we wanted to have a flexible schedule so we could travel and have adventures when Daddy had days off. We pretty much plan our school schedule around his working schedule and have the same days off. That in itself has been excellent for our family. We can complete our school week in 4 days, working 3 or so hours per day.
As far as curriculum, I did some research and asked a lot of questions from wise homeschool moms, and we chose the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Charlotte Mason lived the late 1800s, early 1900s and was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of children's education. It's worth spending some time reading about her and all she learned through a lot of time spent with children and teachers. An online curriculum has been created using her philosophy complete with weekly schedules and booklists. To sum it up, she encourages lots of time outside exploring and learning from nature, and an emphasis on reading classic, good literature together.
Some of the books on our booklist that we have really enjoyed this semester are: "Paddle to the Sea" by Holling C. Holling (great story to learn the Great Lakes), "Aesop's Fables", "George Washington" by Ingri D'Aulaire, James Herriot's Treasury for Children (great animal stories from a British vet's view in early 1900's), "Just So Stories" by Richard Kipling (mythical stories about how animals got their individual characteristics), and "50 Famous Stories Retold" by James Baldwin (historical/mythical stories about kings, knights, and noble people that teach a good moral).
These books in addition to others make up our history and literature. We also read Bible stories every day from different children's Bibles, and our writing is composed of Bible verse copy work. For science we have been keeping a "Nature Notebook" since May 2001. Now once a week we focus on something particular from our outdoor adventures, draw a picture of it, research it, and tell a story about how we saw it. For those of you who know I like to draw, it has been particularly fun for me. The artwork is "teamwork." Elias chooses what we will draw, I outline it, then he colors it and I add final details. We decided to do it this way so it's a good representation of what we saw. Then he tells the story and we work together to record it. I highly recommend this whether you are homeschooling or not. It's a great way to record family memories and it incorporates art, science, writing, english etc. as well. Here are a couple of our recent entries.
We've read poetry from a couple different sources this year too. One thing the CM philosophy recommends is memorizing poems, Bible verses, hymns, etc. Elias chose a poem from "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson to memorize and then he wrote it all out and illustrated it. He chose "Moon." Here is a picture of the first page of his final draft. Not a big surprise he chose that because he is still obsessed with space. Speaking of that, he was the first one to try out my new easel and his first acrylic painting is below.
Sometimes Daddy jumps in as teacher for some variety, but I do a majority of it.
In addition to that, we are learning french and study a composer and an artist once a week. We started with Mozart and Monet so that was a very fun combo. We also spends lots of time at the library here and reading lots.
There is a great homeschool group here and we have joined in many of their activities. Here are some pics of the cross country race they ran on a families' farm and a sculpture we made out of veggies.
As for Cohen, you may be wondering, he basically joins in what we're doing or is playing n the same room or is in his own "room time." He likes to repeat the french words with us or hold the cards we're using for a math game. We complete the things that take more focus (math, writing, and french) in the morning and then do most of our reading and other stuff during Cohen's nap in the afternoon. We take breaks for picnics by the lake with friends, grocery shopping, fun hikes etc. but manage to get done what we plan at some point in the day.