Barefoot in Suburbia

Homeschooling & Special Needs, Inspired by the Montessori Way

Homeschooling the big kid March 30, 2011

Filed under: Lower Elementary — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:11 pm

As I mentioned earlier this week, we have made the decision to pull Jedi from his montessori school at the end of the year and homeschool him for 2nd grade.  It was not a decision we made lightly, due to many factors.  First, Jedi has autism.  He has made significant progress in the past 4 years (at 2 years old, he was non-verbal and tested as severely autistic.  Today, after a lot of therapies, he has been rediagnosed as 2E…gifted with asperger’s syndrome with sensory processing disorder).  Despite the progress, he still has a long way to go.  Obviously, our first instinct was to want to keep him in school because he’d constantly have a social network he’d have to navigate…it turns out that the social network was part of the problem.  Some of the things that we saw happening with his peers were really not appropriate, and not something we want our child to see as acceptable behaviors at all.

Because of his autism, he is on the Ohio Autism Scholarship program, which requires the use of an IEP (individualized education plan).  That is something that most homeschool families don’t have to deal with…afterall, homeschooling *is* an individualized education plan!  But by state law, if we pull him off his IEP, he loses his scholarship and can never get back on it.  We need to keep the scholarship an option until we know that homeschooling will work for him (the scholarship helped pay for his therapies and private school).  So, we will need to work with our local school district to continue to develop IEPs every year.  That, in itself, should be quite the interesting challenge!

Despite these challenges, we are really looking forward to having Jedi home all year.  And as an extra bonus, the homeschooling schedule is something I get to set–so he’ll be going full year and taking multiple shorter breaks throughout the year, instead of having a long summer break.  Children with autism tend to regress after lengthy breaks in a routine, so this might help prevent that.  Plus, it gives us the freedom to travel when we need to, take breaks around holidays our family celebrates, and just have a bit more freedom with our scheduling.

Now, Jedi has been going to a Montessori school for 3 years now, and we know that hands-on learning is the best approach for this particular child.  So, in order to find curricula that would work with him, we had to do a lot of research.  We came up with a plan that we think should work really well:

Math: Rightstart Level C

Science: REAL Science Odyssey Level 1

Writing: Handwriting without Tears 2nd grade

World History: History Odyssey Level 1 and Hands on History Levels 1 & 2

Reading: We’ll be using a montessori album for this

Ohio History: Kids Love Ohio and Along the Ohio Trail ( a free book written by our state officials)

PE: Jedi takes martial arts classes for 2 hours a week.  Plus we are using Horizons PE curriculum for pre-k through 2nd grade

Health: Horizons Grade 2

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) Level 1

Geography: Little Passports & Expedition Earth (EE is from

Music: Stories of the Great Composers and Alfred’s Piano for Children

Art: Artistic Pursuits books 1-3 for K-3 year olds

It seems like a lot, but we will be using an extended school year, plus we have a weekly schedule so we aren’t doing ever subject every day.  Wish us luck!!  Jedi gets out of school the first week of June, so we’ll take a week or two off and then start his 2nd grade homeschooling sometime in mid June!




Toddler Tuesday March 29, 2011

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 12:56 pm
Tags: , , ,


Bitty Bug is 2 years 2 months old


As Bug gets older, it’s interesting to see her natural progression from the work of an infant/young toddler to the work of a preschooler.  It seems like Bitty Bug is starting to resist the work that’s been set out for her, and more and more she is gravitating towards the preschool level work.  Unfortunately, she gets very disappointed that she’s not really ready for that work–while it looks really interesting to her, bead chains just aren’t appropriate work for a young 2 year old. 😉  Part of me thinks she’s just trying to copy what her sister does, and if she was in a regular classroom for kids her own age, she’d probably still be gravitating towards the younger works.  But part of me also sees that she genuinely is curious about the work for older children.  She already knows her colors, can count to 10 (in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese (thanks to the Vietnamese language CDs we play for Monkey), and is so proud of herself when she does that.  So, I see her trying to work on things like Color Box 2 or work where she has to count the objects.  So, it really is interesting to me to see her progression!


Bug really enjoyed the turtle lesson....and she loved wearing the turtle shell on her back!

Working on her dot art

The spring sensory bin...hay, silk flowers, pots, gravel (easier to clean off the carpet than dirt...LOL!), ladybugs, butterflies, birds, eggs, & nests

A nest with baby birds and eggs


Pots, gravel, & flowers

Bug and Monkey using the sensory table


Montessori Monday, plus a big kid! March 28, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 1 month old

This week has been really busy for us in terms of homeschooling, but not so much with Monkey.  We have begun the first steps to pulling Jedi out of his school and homeschooling him.   With him, it’s a bit more complicated because he’s on an IEP and the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program.  But, it became clear in the past couple months that his current placement at the Montessori school just was no longer working for him.  We’ll have him finish up the year at his current school, and then beginning in June, he’ll start full year homeschooling for 2nd grade.  So, last week was a blur of paperwork, planning, ordering curriculum, and revamping our school room so that we have a place to homeschool someone who is far above the preschool level.  This week gets to be a test week since he’s home on spring break, so he’ll get a whole week to “practice” homeschooling with the girls.  So, soon, I’ll start a new weekly post with our curriculum choices for Jedi (and then in June, his weekly recaps).

As for Monkey, she did have a busy week, but no busier than usual.  We did a unit on worms (which unfortunately, I didn’t keep my camera near by to document.  But, it was really cool, and she really loved touching the worms…and apparently we discovered that you can make a composting worm dance by putting it on the table’s surface.  LOL!!  It was rather funny to watch!

She also had another belt test in her Tang Soo Do class, and did really well!  She’s now a white belt with gold stripe. 🙂

Here’s a little recap from our unit on turtles that we’re working on…

A large turtle shell I put on the shelf, and the parts of a turtle puzzle.

Turtles of Ohio 3 part cards

A close-up of the cards

Turtle stenciling with dot painting

Turtle books

Monkey working with the stencil

Working with the metal insets

Jedi helping Monkey make a maze

Walking the maze

Monkey doing her balance beam walk from gymnastics through the maze

One of the Bob books I have out for Monkey

Our schedule board for today

Our "Ohio" wall!

The school room all dressed up for spring 🙂


Toddler Tuesday (on Wednesday) March 16, 2011

Filed under: Toddler learning — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 2:21 pm
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Bitty Bug is 2 years 2 months old

Yesterday got away from me pretty fast apparently!  So, here’s Toddler Tuesday, a day late. 😉

Bug was *all* about the different colors this past week. She's actually really good at naming most of her colors (Brown trips her up sometimes, but other than that, she usually can name all of them). However, she was a bit disappointed that color box 3 was not appropriate for her age. She really wanted to make a "sunshine". So, I helped her make one with color box 2--I did the initial circle, and she matched all the colors.

Color Box 2 came back out while we were reading a story about matching colors.

Bug also liked matching the baric tablets and telling me which things were cold, and which were warm.

Bug and Monkey working on the sound cylinders together.


Montessori Monday March 14, 2011

Monkey is 4 years 1 month old

The past week was much slower than the weeks before, in part because things were so busy with the family as a whole.  But, Monkey was able to do some work…especially the nature based work (mostly because I teach nature studies for preschoolers at Monkey’s homeschool co-op).

We did a in-depth unit on frogs & toads this past week. Here is one of our favorite books (Uncover Frog), and our guidebook of Ohio amphibians.

Our "life cycle of a frog" display--frogs/tadpoles/eggs in acrylic

Parts of a frog puzzle

Life cycle of a frog craft

Life cycle and frog figurines (I have no idea where the tadpole went...the kids had it when they were working with it, but when I went to take the pictures, it was gone)

Number rods & sandpaper numbers

Color box 3


Around the World–Japan

Filed under: Geography & Culture — Barefoot in Suburbia @ 6:42 pm
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I have a couple posts to write in the next couple days because I fell a bit behind last week, and then by the time I had time to sit and blog, it was already close enough to work on this week’s posts.

First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with every one of my readers who is in Japan or who have family and friends there.  What an absolutely devastating week the nation of Japan has had.  Obviously, it was not the end of our month-long unit on Japan that we were anticipating.

(And I’m a little afraid for France, which will be our next unit.  After our Brazil unit, there were horrible mudslides that caused many deaths, and then at the end of our Japan unit, there were earthquakes and tsunamis.  Hopefully the world will calm down soon!)

To conclude our unit on Japan, the kids and I did some origami, of course!  Jedi had a *ton* of fun with his Origami Yoda (the instructions were at the end of the book ‘The Case of the Origami Yoda’) –I’m pretty sure he carried it around with him everywhere for a couple weeks.  Until our dog, ironically enough named Yoda, ate it.  And thus, Origami Yoda’s demise came from a furry 4 legged Yoda.  Go figure…

Our origami animal collection--bird, snake, elephant, crane, and fish

Bug created her own origami...she said it was a house for the elephant! LOL!

Jedi making his origami


Toddler Tuesday March 1, 2011

Bitty Bug is 2 years 1 month old

Bitty Bug has been trying to do more work with Monkey in the school room this week.  As a result, the school room usually looks like a tornado hit.  So, we’ve also been working with Bug on putting things back on the shelf.  This is a slow-going process for sure, but I think she’s starting to finally get it!  At first, she resisted a lot, as toddlers tend to do.  But slowly, she’s starting to come around and at least make an attempt to put things back on the shelf!

While Monkey was working on sorting coins this week, Bug wanted to work on dry pouring the coins.

Using a spoon to transfer little glass pebbles into the ice cube tray.

Pinning clothes pins to the rim of the basket.

Working with her wooden rainbow. She was naming colors and attempting to sort by size.

In size order.

As always, Bug loves playing the musical instruments!

Bug had a lot of interest in exploring the geometric solids this week as well. She liked to feel which ones were smooth & round, and which ones were pointy.