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Friday, May 16, 2014

Homeschool Year in Review 2013-2014

It's hard to believe we finished up our fourth official year of homeschooling! Wow! I still feel like we're newbies on one hand and on the other moving into the more seasoned club. This year was a learning cure-- it was my first year with three at the table and one baby. One very demanding baby. Don't get me wrong we adore him and couldn't imagine a day or second with out him. However, he did have a bit of colic when he was little and even as the months went by there where very many days that I taught and stood rocking a fussy baby. He also took a long time to learn how to nap-- it just didn't come naturally to him and in all fairness, the house is a much louder environment for baby #4 compared to baby #1 (who also didn't care for naps as much as our middle two). That being said I think this left me with a feeling that we didn't do all that we could have done, we skipped a lot of the hands on activities, and some days, we were truly surviving and not thriving. However, we will not always have a newborn as a part of our school year and it was a season. And a lot of times it was a very good season. I would nurse the baby while my daughter did her reading lessons. This forced me to sit, relax, and listen to her. It also allowed my oldest son to become a more independent learner which is something it turns out he excels at.
This year was my 4 year olds first official year doing school with the older kids. He did amazing! Seriously, I am really looking forward to teaching him to read as he is so eager and like a little sponge. He had his own Bible apologia coloring book to do along with the big kids during Bible time which he really enjoyed. He had explode the code books that we did which he also really enjoyed. To kind of round out his time with us, I picked up additional little workbooks with him while we were at various stores. He generally listened into our history lesson as well and if he could, did some of the hands on crafts that the older kids did. One area we are going to have to work on this coming year will be his speech and listening while mommy does read a louds. He likes to hum or under-talk while I'm reading and it gets distracting. I do plan on speaking with our family doctor about his speech as he physically cannot make certain sounds. He gets a little frustrated as he knows what should come out and struggles with the right sound. Next year he will officially be doing kindergarten/1st grade work. He will advance with his reading lessons and math and I have a feeling he will be like my oldest son who just hungers and thirsts for knowledge.
Our 7 year old daughter who started the year as a 6 and a half year old and ends as a seven and a half year old really seemed to get a lot of help from doing her explode the code books and spelling books. She still struggles with the "aha" moment with reading and so we will continue working on that next year. She did do really well with BOB books and I think I'll order a few more sets to continue to build her confidence as we work towards that moment where she takes off. She has also come along way with math and did well with the Singapore books. She also loved her Draw Write Now books and I hope to get her more for next year. She struggles with wanting to quit before she's ahead and not putting her all into her lessons. When she wants it and puts her heart into her work, she blows me away. Getting her to that point is the challenge. She did like our Apologia botany series I think more than my 8 year old and has requested next year we do one of the animal books. She loves animals and I hope we can put together some special field trips as we study birds of the air and fish of the sea (which means we can explore mommy's favorite animals== sharks!!!== in greater detail== yay!!).
Our eight year old continues to amaze me. He does all of his spelling, logic, explode the code, and art on his own. Some days he was even able to do his math without help. We tackled division, multiplication, fractions, geometry, and more together and my little fellow math lover and I bonded over numbers. That's not to say we don't have some areas to work on-- attitude. If he gets told to try again or do it over, well, its not pleasant. This is a character issue and even more then I'd like him to memorize math facts or spelling words, I want to work on his heart issues in this matter. He also has horrible handwriting. Phew, I feel like I needed to get that of my chest, BUT next year, he will probably have a few books to help us really get it under control and more legible. We will also be adding in a foreign language and hopefully getting back to music lesson(sadly, this was one thing that we let go as we learned to manage a household of 6 and just adjust).
For me personally, this was a tough year. The baby still doesn't sleep through the night which means I don't sleep through the night. We also had a rough flu in march, kitchen makeover in November, and a long snowed in winter. It left me feeling a little more emotionally raw if that makes sense and I'm thankful that this was the first year I did a Bible study at our church. It wasn't always easy to get too, but I sure did need that. It was our first year without a TV in the home and I loved it! I feel like the kids haven't missed it, my husband and I have grown closer together, and now I wonder when we had the time before. I also had to let myself off the hook== I couldn't do it all and didn't plan as well for the year as I coulda shoulda would have. This next year I prayed about it and instead of beginning in July, we won't start back up again until August. After a lot of prayer and talking it over with my husband, once we made the decision I felt so much peace about our next year. I am going to use the extra time to prepare-- I mean really prepare. Have copies of history tests all made in advance, daily activity boxes for probably all four kids but at least the younger two, a workable schedule, art projects prepared in advance, and hopefully, an entire first floor of our house mini makeover. Since I work from home and have my desk in our main room, our school area, and our first floor play area as well as dining room all together-- we need to just get a system that works a little better. Our plan is to get a newer computer table that could possibly fit two computers in the future, replace our coffee table with an ikea expedia shelving unit, and repaint the room. We have grown as a family and spend so much time in this room and we'd like to make it work better for us all. Getting rid of the coffee table will open up play space and changing our desk situation along that wall will allow us to store more things neatly and effectively.
What we loved about this year: BOB books, explode the code, Draw Write Now, Spellwell, Singapore math, and mystery of history.
We were kind of meh about botany-- it was really detailed and not that that's a bad thing but I think sometimes they kind of couldn't really grasp one or two concrete things since so many facts and terms were coming at them. I also liked our notebooks from the year before for astronomy a bit better. Also, apologias Bible was awesome, but next year I'm on the lookout for something that will cater to a 5-9 year old a bit more.
Next year we will be adding (Lord willing): Studying French, Musical composers, handwriting, a new Bible curriculum, character training books (we did these maybe two years ago and they were neat and I just found more books in the series so I'm excited), and possibly typing or a computer program for my older two. Mommy will be a bit more on top of things and it's my goal to put together activity boxes per child per day. Something they can do independently while I work with others or even with a buddy. I'll also be getting my 5 year old a new copy of teach your child to read in one hundred easy lessons as this did help my oldest son and a very begrudging little girl reader. I'm also hoping to plan out some awesome read alouds-- we did those the second half of this year and loved them! Every morning we began our day with scripture reading and a chapter or two of a book and it was so sweet. I love sharing literature together. Pray for us as we prepare to change some things and for a smoother less bumpy year.
What about You? How was your homeschool year and what are you looking forward to next year?

1 comment:

M.E. said...

I really enjoyed reading this Becky! You had a lot going on this year and it really sounds like the Lord gave you a lot of grace and wisdom in your homeschooling journey. I too realized that I need to be better prepared as we go into the coming school year. I would really like to have all lessons and materials prepped before we start the year, rather the trying to get it all done on a Sunday night before we start on Monday morning!