Our homeschool year in review
“The home is the first and most effective place to learn the lessons of life: truth, honor, virtue, self-control, the value of education, honest work, and the purpose and privilege of life.” —David O. McKay
A couple weeks ago we wrapped up our workbook portion of the school year. I always have a mix of emotions. A bit of fear, not knowing if they got a full education and wondering if they are "where they should be".
This was the first year I had a second child to official "school". It was more difficult than I imagined it would be, but it was nothing short of a success in our eyes.
Homeschooling multiple kids is definitely more difficult than homeschooling one. There was a learning curve for all of us. We had to learn time management, patience, and continual discipline.
However, just as it is with most things, what started out as chaos turned into a routine.
Jude had a hard time adjusting from having my undivided attention all the time since that was what he was used to for 2 years, but he learned how to be a more independent learner. I loved watching him take the work that he could do alone and just do it without asking me to be by his side or to help him with every problem. This gave me a chance to help Lila with reading; although she is my girl who would rather just do everything on her own without any instruction and hope for the best. Haha. So navigating how to mold that part of her personality, while also conveying that following instructions is important was at times difficult, but so neat to see the different learning personalities and how I can be a part of guiding those.
The biggest success this year, was letting go of my "rules" and figuring out how to find joy in our homeschool day.
I loved watching how we learn more than I would have ever imagined when we do not force "school". When we can play history songs on the computer while painting or building with legos, or learn about the geology in our area by talking to a stranger while on a walk (I love when elderly offer up information), or by absorbing a couple audiobooks in a week. Everyone wins! They learn so much without the struggle of feeling like they have to be learning. When learning creates a meltdown it can create an opportunity for character development, but it can also create angst against what a child may presume to be "learning". Which only makes your job of being Mom and Teacher so much harder.
Speaking of audiobooks, if you have not incorporated audiobooks through out your school day, you are missing out. We loved getting the Playaway audiobooks (little hand held devices they can plug headphones into and listen to anywhere). I firmly believe that by increasing our read a loud time and constantly playing an audiobook in the car or encouraging them to find several Playaways at the library, it made all the difference in our love for reading this year.
The power of a story and how it helps develop a child's mind and encourages their imagination is incredible.
Jude also found several series of books he really enjoyed reading and once he realized he could read a 100 page chapter book, his confidence was boosted and he began reading 250 page chapter books. I shared a few of those titles with my Instagram community, but to see his love for reading develop after a couple years of struggling and declaring that he "hates" reading makes this Mama heart burst with happiness!
A big lesson for me this year was learning that just because one curriculum worked for one child, it may not work for the next. I spent 2 years going through the My Father's World reading curriculum with Jude and so I tried bits of that with Lila. Then because I had always heard great things about "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons", I bought that book and tried to go through it with Lila and she would get so bored and frustrated.
Once I removed myself from "this is what I bought and we just need to do it" to remembering that I need to look at her personality and find what works best for her, everything clicked.
We started a phonics curriculum called "Explode the Code" this year and Jude and Lila both really excelled with reading, writing, spelling and grammar. Lila just wanted to read. So that is what we did. It was so fun to watch her begin to read small sentences and to form comprehension from what she read. Another curriculum I would highly recommend is "Lessons for a living education". It is a story based math curriculum and it had so many elements that blended with what my kids enjoyed and what they needed to learn. Instead of having the kids do 20 pages of the same concept, it would introduce it enough and then sprinkle the same thing through out several lessons and then again form review at the end of the lesson. I will do this same Math curriculum next year.
Truly, one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences is to watch your child flourish the way they were created to and to get to experience that at home is such a gift!
The last thing that sticks out about this school year is how awesome a child's brain is and how much it can retain. Jude began with the thought that he wanted to go for Memory Master this year in Classical Conversations. Memory Master is where the child can recite every bit of memory work from 24 weeks without any prompting. This was something I never wanted to push, but since a couple of his buddies were doing it, he wanted to do it as well. To be honest, it totally made me nervous, because there is a lot of pressure on the parent also! We drilled information from time to time, but we mostly just played the memory work on my computer in our down time. I was amazed at how much Jude and Lila would retain. We could walk through our local museum and it was so fun to see all these bits of information click. They were able to recall history sentences and the timeline of Lewis and Clark and Theodore Roosevelt (among many others). Then form solid questions that I would in turn have to say, "That is an awesome question, we will have to look that up!"
Application of the information they are learning is so important. What an awesome opportunity for homeschool kids to be learning something and then get to piece it all together by getting out in the world and discovering museums, aquariums, national parks and so much more by taking the information they have learned and relating it to their every day life. It absolutely does not happen by accident, but by investing in our children.
We must be the ones to create the atmosphere of learning and we must be the ones that ignite the passion within ourselves to pass it down to our children.
Can I tell you something beautiful I love about our homeschool community? Just like the body has many different parts, and as fellow believers we all have different gifts that are to be used to Glorify our Father in Heaven and to spur on and encourage the body of believers, the homeschool community is constructed the same way! We have Mama's who have a wealth of knowledge. We have Mama's who have a love of science or degree's in biology. We have Mama's who love to plan field trips and outdoor adventures and so many other gifts and talents. You are not alone and you were never designed to do life or homeschool alone!
I am glad you have found this little corner of my world where my passions and my love for writing collide. Don't homeschool alone! I pray that we can all continue to encourage each other on this journey and share the beauty of educating our children at home in the world.
Have a wonderful week and always feel free to send me an email—firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram or Facebook so we can connect! Now that school is over, I plan to re-vamp my website a bit and spend some more time on blog posts..in between packing and moving of course! (Also, please send tips on packing up a house of 5—I am dreading the process!)
All my love,