How to go from "play" to "school"

Hello everyone! So I am curious how any of you that started with Homeschooling from the beginning. (your children were never in public school) Transitioned your kids from “playing” to actually doing “school” work. I am a preschool teacher gone SAHM since my children were born. I know I want to HS them but even as a preschool teacher I am at a lost as how to train their brains that certain times are going to be “school” and not just time to free play. I know that there is a lot of learning to be done in play (one of my biggest reasons for wanting to homeschool) , and I am not talking about making them sit down for hours to do seat work. But I really am at a loss as how to really get started. They are already use to being home, and we do lots of learning throughout the day, but I know at some point a more focused learning time (that is a good way to put it!) is going to be necessary. So how did you start doing your school work? What did you do on that “first day of school” to help your children learn to have a scheduled focused learning time? Thanks!!

Hi there @MomMichelle I also started homeschooling from the beginning with my children. My daughter started homeschooling Kindergarten while my son was 3 and I was pregnant with my youngest at the time (he was born that September of our first homeschool year :slight_smile: ) My daughter is now in 3rd grade and we are still going strong with homeschool. I, too, came from a background working with preschoolers and wondered how my own children would do with changing over to “school” time. Looking back, from what I can remember there were some days when my daughter wanted to just go play, but mostly, she was so excited to have Mommy at the table directing her and working with her (so much is interactive and parent-directed in that first year especially) that I think she saw it as bonus Mommy time! And since Kindergarten especially involves so much creative work and enjoyable activities, she really didn’t struggle much with it. Even my 3 year old son wanted to be in on the action most of the time. I am sure there were days as we got a few weeks into it when she realized this wasn’t going to end (lol!) and she wanted her “old” life of playing back again, and we had to talk a bit about how this was school time and there was going to be “table work” that needed to be done (even in Kindergarten there were math, reading and handwriting lessons that we did in our seats, etc.) but there wasn’t much of that to work through, really. I don’t know where you are, but our state requires 4 hours per day of homeschooling. So we mixed that up with about two hours in the morning/before lunch, another 90 minutes after lunch, and a half hour of reading together after dinner. I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to send along any questions if I can be of any more help! :slight_smile:

Hi MomMichelle :smile:
I was also an early ed educator as well -before I became a stay at home homeschooling mother of two. When I started we would have our normal routine ( worship, breakfast, chores, playtime) and then I would start off with having them sit with me in the family room singing songs/finger plays, read alouds based on a theme and we would transition to our morning board (lots of good ones on pinterest I took pieces of mine from MamaJenn, homeschool creations, and 1+1+1=1) and continue singing days of the week song, weather song/graph the weather and talk about the season… (I used youtube a lot for days of the week/weather and phonic songs to introduce letters) We started out with learning a letter per week and a sight word through Reading the Alphabet from it is a wonderful free resource- and we would just slide into her kid friendly hands on activities. My kids loved doing all the activities. I also took advantage of organizing their day through the workbox system to help keep them on track and looking forward to what was the next activity they would do. It also helped having them know that when they finished all of their boxes they were done and could have more play time afterwards. Other things I would slip into their workboxes were preK packs I found on pinterest- 3 and royal to name a few to go along with our theme. Hope this helps, let me know if I can be of anymore assistance. If your excited about learning they will be too!!

Thank you! That is very helpful @Forchristandkids As our kids are almost the exact same ages that yours were! :smiley: Our DD is 5 (6 in Aug) our DS is 3 (4 in April) and number 3 will also be born in April! :slight_smile: So I really wanted to try to start the “transition” here at the beginning of the year and give our DD a few months to get adjusted before the baby gets here! So that I can give her the attention that she needs in that Focused learning time. Did you start out with any sort of curriculum or just use your teaching knowledge and pull ideas from that? I would love to hear what you used and liked or didn’t like, as I am also at a loss as to use my preschool materials and printables from the internet or to try a curriculum? I have been considering hands on type programs like Math-U-See, and AAR although I know alot can be accomplished especially in K with just a printer and a few games! Thanks again for you helpful reply!

Thank you @Marie! I have been “stalking” most of those webpages for about a year! LOL I have a large file compiled on my computer of ideas! There are so many great ideas and I want to try them all! :smiley: How many boxes did you start off giving each kid? Did you put just one activity in each box? (I have read about the system but there are so many variations that people use, curious what worked for you with young children) I may try something like that for my DD so as you said she has that visual goal of when she will be done!

P[quote=“Forchristandkids, post:2, topic:2329”]
I don’t know where you are
[/quote] we are in NC, from what I have read I don’t think we have to keep up with a certain amount of hours per day. Especially since we can’t even file our intent until our oldest is 7.

@MomMichelle I will send you a message :slight_smile:

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I know how you feel MomMichelle there are so many resources out there it can get overwhelming! I started workboxes last year when my daughter was 4 and my son was 5. They started out with doing 8 boxes each some of them were the same and some they each had different activities depending where they were at for example tracing letters vs. writing letters on their own. Sometimes I had scissor skills in one child’s box and not the other. Also keep in mind the items in the boxes were not all paper pencil activities. They loved number clips with clothespins, playdoh letter formation/sight word making, paints, cutting/pasting activities, sequencing activities, letter beads to string words… I did keep one activity per box and when they were done (if it was a worksheet) they turned it in to the top of the workbox station where I put a tray. I use the 10 drawer multicolor organizer that can be found at JoAnn’s I think Michael’s has them as well. They each have their own supplies crayons, glue, markers, pencils in a little caddy they keep on top of their turn in tray. When its time to start workbox activities they carry their caddy to the kitchen table to complete activities. Something to keep in mind… for one on one instruction I would start my youngest with coloring by number or tracing letters something she can do independently while I work one on one with the other on his reading and I will flip flop with the other child as well.
I cannot say enough good things about the workbox system!!
I hope this helps:wink:

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Thank you for sharing your set up! It is always helpful to hear first hand accounts of things that work and things that don’t, even though all kids and parent teachers are different :slight_smile:

Hi! Our kids have never gone to public school, so we started from prek with our oldest and just kept at it. It is a little bit of a transition going from play time to school time, and honestly it’s kind of just been a natural progression for us. It was hardest for our oldest who was having to do school while her siblings were playing, but really easy for the rest of them because we were already doing school, and they just started in when they were old enough.

I usually start getting more firm with them finishing what i set out for them around age 5, kindergarten. In preschool I was a little more flexible with allowing them to choose what they did and didn’t want to do.

One thing that helped me tremendously with the transition from optional to required school work, was the workbox system. As you probably know I have the Ikea drawer units that hold up our desktops. In them are their assignments for the day. I think it’s easier for a younger child to “SEE” what they have to get done in any given day and be able to empty out their boxes as they work with a sense of accomplishment. That way they learn that they have to finish whatever is in their drawers, but once they’re done they are free to go play and have fun.

I also tried to make sure to mix in a lot of fun stuff into their boxes so it wasn’t all boring worksheets and such. That way they had some motivation to move from one box to the next. I even used to put snacks in their drawers which they still like. Knowing that a snack is just a box away is always good motivation LOL!

There’s also a bit of discipline that will come naturally as well. We did have to explain in kindergarten that they were in real school now, and they were required to complete their tasks. I always explained that school isn’t optional just because they’re at home :smile: And that their day was largely dependent upon them. They could choose to procrastinate and take all day, or get through their work in a timely manner and go play.

You can see what we’ve put in our workboxes over the years here. my older posts will have some of the fun games etc we used when they were younger:

And here were a few fun box items we included too:

Hopefully that helps give you a start! :slight_smile: And don’t get discouraged, it’s just like any new routine. It takes some getting used to, but once you get in a groove it will come naturally to both you and your kiddos.