If looking at my homeschool curriculum list gives you the impression that I have it all together, I'd like to put the record straight: I do not have it all together! There is no such thing as a perfect homeschool. I am not a super-structured or organized person at home when it comes to scheduling the school day. If we start doing "school" by 9:00 in the morning than we are WAY ahead of normal (to say nothing of the fact that we're usually still in our pajamas until 3 o' clock when I start teaching piano lessons).
I'm still, after over two years of homeschooling, trying to figure out how to schedule the day so I don't feel like I'm living in absolute chaos. The "to do" lists the kids use for their work help the chaotic feeling, but more often than not we reach the end of the day and I ask the kids,"Did you finish all your work today?" and they look at me like I'm speaking another language. "Um, I didn't finish my ___ and my ___ because you were doing something else and couldn't help me." Or they answer, "Yes, I finished it all," and then when I look over their assignments at the end of the week (because I can't seem to motivate myself to check their work each night) I discover that NO, they did NOT finish their work. Arghh!
Then you throw my 5-year old into the mix. She's "supposed" to be in kindergarten. And even though skill-wise she's doing just fine, if you ask me what curriculum I'm using for her, I'd say…um, well her math curriculum is on the way in the mail (which it really is. Joely is asking everyday when her Math-U-See blocks are going to get here.)
You could say that I've ended up "unschooling" Joely by default because I can't figure out when or how to "do school" with her on a regular basis with the older two kids' schooling. I'm trying to stop giving myself a guilt trip about it because she IS learning… incidentally—either by listening in on her siblings' lessons or when I get the sudden motivation to whip out the Cuisenaire Rods to practice patterns and addition and the like.
And phonics? Well, that is definitely NOT structured either. Thankfully, Joely has a natural desire to learn to read, so she is constantly writing things and trying to spell words, and she is gradually—haphazardly—picking up phonics. She's known her letter sounds for probably two years now, so I've been introducing blends and digraphs whenever the mood strikes. She knows the sound of "sh" and "ch," not because I've had her do phonics worksheets, but because every so often I ask her "What sound does 'ch' make?" and we practice it.
I know I've got to stop feeling guilty for not "doing school" with Joely because she really is learning, but I guess I'm still trying to overcome the public school mindset that I'm not doing it "right!"