Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thoughts on Homeschooling...

I am getting really excited for my next year of homeschooling. I think this is a good sign. We are still a little behind for this year, so I have felt a little stressed the last few weeks. But, the relative pain of getting back into the routine of school is overshadowed by how much the kids have learned! My overall goal for the year was to see what homeschooling would be like and whether I thought this was something that would “work” for us. Boy has it! I was not expecting to cover as much information as we have. We have had a great year. I think I have learned as much as the kids have. As I look to the future, there are a few things I think I am going to try to remember.

First, the Sonlight curriculum we are using is there to provide a general flow for the year. It is not LAW, it is a guide. They tell you this, of course, but I think I am getting used to what to include and what to skip. I say that now, but I know that “what to include” will likely look completely different next year. That is okay, though. We have the flexibility to make those decisions as we go. We can see what is working and what is not and use it to our best advantage.

Second, children need to be able to work with distractions, so I don’t need Pookie to be quiet in the corner during school time! At the beginning of this year, I definitely made sure that Pookie had her own area to play in, both by herself and with big brother. I wanted to make sure that Princess had enough time to work without any other activity in the room. This is not so easy to do anymore. Pookie is growing and is the type of personality that wants to be where the action is. When Little Man is home, that is fine. She can follow him around and play with him. However, when he is at Preschool, that does not happen. I have come to realize, though, that these built-in distractions are actually good for Princess. She is going to have distractions in education – home or otherwise. So, it is good for her to get acclimated to that now.

Third - Planning is ESSENTIAL! This year, I would plan each week what work we were going to do. Then, as I got used to it, I would plan three weeks ahead. This coming year, I think I am going to plan much more ahead than that. The things that I was able to plan enabled us to continue doing some of our schooling while we were traveling. (We took 4 road trips from January to April!) However, there were many things that we could have worked in that would have made our catching up time now much easier. I think it also would have helped on the days when we got done early. We could have done some of the more fun activities on those days. (What a great reward that would have been for being hard working!)

Finally, of the BEST things I did this year was to make as many things as possible printable.
  • I made a copy of the Instructor's Guide (IG) pages that I would write on so that I could write as many notes as I wanted without having to erase anything to use it again or to sell it later.
  • I purchased a series of handwriting fonts that allows me to make handwriting practice pages, so I can just print what I need when I need it instead of having to use the ones from the IG.
  • I came up with a weekly schedule of the times we actually do school activities so I can see where each subject fits in our day. I put the schedule into Excel and am able to see what from the IG is going to reasonably fit into the time we have. This has been especially good for the “catching up” time, since we are WAY ahead in reading, but need to catch up on reading in other subjects. It allows me to move History/Geography and Science into places we would have been reading stories. The great thing about that right now is that the kids love reading all of it, so they don’t care. *smile*

When I found that we were behind after all the travel we ended up doing, I was a little overwhelmed. However, as I got back into the habit of planning, I realized we were not as far behind as I thought. Then I realized that it really didn’t matter anyway. When I look at our learning journey as a marathon, instead of a sprint, I realize that it doesn’t matter whether we “finish” our school year in May or August – we will be doing some sort of learning activity anyway. The funny thing is this: we get more done when I worry less about the time line because we are all having fun together. Our box of books for next year is on its way…I can’t wait to read the first one. I bet we will start this summer, and I bet it will be because the kids asked to get into the books!

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