We are coming to the end of our first year as a homeschool family. So I have been taking time to review how our year went. What were our successes, stumbling blocks and how can we make our upcoming years more … successful? organized? better?
In a nutshell:
Homeschooling is truly amazing.
Homeschooling is hard.
Sometimes the kids won’t want to do any school work.
Sometimes I won’t want to do any school work.
The house truly becomes a work horse. Every inch is used in new ways every day.
Keeping up with house work is suddenly way harder than I thought it would be. All of our systems needed reworking.
There is so much to learn about your children that you do not get to access to when they are taught outside of the home. I was very surprised by this considering the amount of homework time and life learning we had done with the kids.
There are so many activities for home schooled children it’s hard to stay home!
Finding a balance between family time, school time, and alone time can be challenging.
I have treasured the opportunity to include so many life skills lessons into our daily routine.
Are we glad we are homeschooling? YES.
What will stay the same?
Work load: We will stick with a four day work load with one day a week set aside for field trips.
Curriculum:We will be sticking with our Classical Conversations Main Curriculum, also using books written by Susan Bower co-author of The Well Trained Mind. Typing, coding and handwriting will all remain next year as well as our spelling choice.
Daily schedule: I have plans for our daily schedule, but I think that the most consistent thing that will remain about our schedule is that it will change often. My husband’s schedule is all over the place, so we accommodate his days off within our week.
So what will look different next year?
The first big change is that we started with a school room. The boys were sharing a room at the time and we were hoping to have that last for a while. About half way through the year, we decided that giving the boys individual space would help with the fact that they were now spending a majority of their time together. It was a great move to have them in their own rooms, but now we had a home office and school room displaced. Our house is 1370 sq ft. so we have had to get creative. The main school books and our home office desks are now in our master bedroom. YES. You read that correctly. I really didn’t want to turn our living room into a school room. That may change if I can figure out how to arrange everything nicely, but for now our current arrangement is working. Our bedroom is set up on one side of the room and the desks are on the other side. The boys love laying on our bed to do school work and read. Our rising 5th grader often goes into his room to work on assignments more independently as well.
Work load: Our boys attended a year round public school prior to homeschooling. So we attempted to stay on the same calendar schedule in order to be accessible to friends. This will have to be tweaked for the next school year as we are signing up for a co-op that runs on a traditional calendar. The co-op only meets once a week, but there will be school work that will have to be done during the week. I will most likely intentionally plan a heavier work load when all our friends are in school and a lighter school load on those weeks they have off so that we are still very flexible.
Curriculum: We may be changing our math curriculum to a more visual approach than what we are currently using.
Daily schedule: Our schedule changed several times over the year. This was one area that I knew would be a bit challenging. The boys were still on a “I go to school Monday thru Friday” mentality, but we would be taking days off during the week in order to spend time with my husband on his days off. Some weeks we doubled up on work, some weeks we worked on the weekends. Some days we started the day early and were done by lunch, most days we started about 9am and finished about 3-4pm. The boys really enjoyed long leisurely breakfasts, followed by big snacks about an hour and a half later, followed by another leisurely lunch. We usually only got through two subjects in between all that eating and had the bulk of our productivity in the early afternoon. Based on this, we may move reading and a few electives to the morning. I used to save it for the end of the day, but the boys always wanted to start with reading and this would allow me to get my tasks done in the morning. Then I will not stress about how little we got done by lunch. I will mention that this may really have been an issue since I was comparing our days to what I heard before we started to homeschool. I heard, “we school for four hours a day”, “we are usually done by lunch”. I thought there was something wrong with us since we were not following the same pattern. Homeschool rule #1: Do not compare.
We live in what is called the Triangle area of North Carolina. There is no lack of field trips options, and homeschool groups to meet up with. I mostly limited ourselves to one field trip a week and a few playdates in order to stay on schedule. Some weeks we had a few field trips and some weeks we had none because we were busy playing with friends. We are committing to two co-ops next year, so it will be interesting to see how that affects our flexibility. I think we will be learning to fit school into corners of our days and weeks that we haven’t before.
Which brings me to my next topic. Mom’s need community. I didn’t realize that I was missing out. I talked homeschool with my sister in Florida and chatted with the other moms at field trips. I thought I was getting plenty of support. But it really took almost the whole year to get to know everyone. It has been so nice to talk about curriculum, and work flow, science class options and start to think about car pooling to activities in the future.
So that is what our first year looked like in a nutshell! It was so great to sneak away during the week and take in field trips without crowds, experience how the boys learn and what they are interested in and see them have the chance to experience classes they would have not been able to take if they were not homeschooled.
Do you homeschool? Have you ever considered it? Do you have any advice for my second year?