This past week officially finished up our year of homeschooling. Schools here do not get out until July 3rd so we roughly went with the same schedule. It worked well as we had taken some time off right after Maisie’s birth.
We had a great year. When I zoom back and focus on the year as a whole, I’m kind of amazed how far my kids have come. That is one reason to write this post! It’s easy to get caught up in the details and forget just how much everyone has learned.
In January we switched things up quite a bit and started to find our homeschooling groove. I expect there to be a lot of adjustments along the way, particularly in these early years where we are doing a lot of experimenting, but I’m really happy with where we are at right now. I learned so much about my older kids learning styles and I feel like I have a much better handle on how to tailor their learning experiences for them. I still hope to figure things out more clearly along the way, but thankfully I have plenty of time to observe and listen to my kids and adjust things as needed. Homeschooling is very much a journey and I expect we’ll see lots of changes along the way.
I have absolutely loved reading aloud to all the kids, but have seen a marked difference in Stefan during our discussions. He is really able to pick up on larger themes, and makes connections with other books or things he’s read or learned about elsewhere. Sometimes the connections amaze me and are things I never would have thought about. This was probably my favorite aspect this year. It is so exciting to have good conversations and hear what the kids are thinking.
Favorite read-aloud: Little House in the Big Woods
More than anything, I realized that consistency is important. Really and truly. Whether it was math, reading, handwriting, or piano, consistency mattered more than anything else. We had good days, we had bad days, we had awesome days, and we mostly had just plain normal days. In the end, though, a little bit each day was our key to a successful year.
I knew this in my head, of course, and years of piano teaching have showed me this in piano practice, but what I noticed was how freeing it was in homeschool. I let go of a lot of anxiety by not worrying about where we should be at any given time, and just focused on my motto of “a little every day.” Truth be told, we ended up getting a lot farther than I would have “planned” had I laid out specific goals for the year and we were all happier during the process.
We used curriculum for two subjects this year: Saxon Math 2 and All About Reading. Both were just what we needed. The only time I would find myself stressed, or the kids interest dying, was when I was doing something “just because the curriculum said” even if it didn’t fit my kids needs or personalities. That’s when I would step back and ask myself a few questions. What is our goal? Are we achieving that goal? Can our goals still be achieved without this part of the curriculum? If the answer was yes, than skip it and move on. A curriculum is a tool, a suggestion. But it is not a master. By constantly keeping this as a focus I was able to find a comfortable balance.
The most surprising thing, however, was how much Stefan loved having a curriculum for math. Turns out he loves the predictability and sequencing of a math curriculum. Occasionally we did things orally, just to give him a break since he prefers (and is good at) mental math to having to write things down. Being free to not be so serious about it, helped us all enjoy it. It works, so I don’t plan to fix what isn’t broken.
Stefan made the most obvious progress in reading this year and is reading comfortably and confidently more and more challenging books–and enjoying it! I haven’t found anything he absolutely loves yet, so I’m on a mission to find some books for him. Any ideas? Please share!
Olivia had been begging to start reading, so even though she won’t be in kindergarten until this next year, I finally started with her in January. All About Reading fit her perfectly and she took off immediately. I don’t really need to teach her, but she still loves the reading lessons so we’ll stick with them for now. She will read anything, anytime, and anywhere. She definitely has found her love!
Aside from math, reading, and handwriting, we did one composer study (Bach), one artist study (Rembrandt), poetry memorization, lots of reading, and of course still lots of play.
Favorite book: Mama’s voice reading anything.
It was a really good year. I found it challenging to homeschool with a toddler and baby and I need to rethink our routine for the fall and how it can work a little better with a baby and toddler. We learned and grew a lot and it was incredibly rewarding. It’s been a great fit for our family in this season.
I’m enjoying (and was ready) for a break. It will be a busy one as we are moving, but I hope to carve out some significant time to plan our next year. Here’s to another great year of homeschooling.
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