Our First Year of Homeschooling is Complete.
Incredibly, we’re more or less done with our first year of homeschooling. This week is the last week in my lesson planner (an oversight that is corrected in next year’s planner), and though we will still be doing ‘school-ish’ things throughout the month of December, we’re officially out of school until January 3rd.
I can’t believe that we’re already finished with our first year! Back in January, when I started on this path, I knew we were taking a step in the right direction. Even so, I remember feeling nervous about the actual day-to-day ‘doing’ of it.
Many of the websites I looked at in the beginning talked about how the first year of homeschooling is an exploratory year. They cautioned against buying too much or getting too entrenched in one method or mindset with the comment that the way you think you’ll homeschool often isn’t the way that ends up working for you. I’m so glad that I read those kinds of things because I found those points definitely to be true in my case.
I’m glad that we didn’t buy a bunch of text books; we rarely use them, opting instead for materials that aren’t so dry. We started our homeschooling year enchanted with Charlotte Mason style ideas. Books play such a central role in our lives, so that style fit in with what we were already doing by nature. We stuck with that pretty well until summer hit, which required a re-vamp as my niece was with us most days. I’d started to read more about ‘de-schooling’ by that point, too, so we fell into more of an unschool-y rhythm. Not ‘real’ unschooling, but as close to it as I’ll ever come, most likely. Then when the school year started up again, our homeschool group was getting off the ground and more active, so we moved more into unit studies and active learning through field trips and other non-traditional methods (though we have kept a fairly consistent level of book-work at home throughout). Over the last few months, we’ve also been doing more lapbooking and finding our groove with a more relaxed and mastery focused method.
It’s been interesting to me to work through the progression over the past year. We’re both not at all where I thought we’d be and exactly on-target. I’m extremely pleased with how the year has gone, with the work that the kids have done this year, and with the material we’ve covered. I’ve learned to be more relaxed – not so much that school slacks, but enough so that I’m not worrying myself ragged over being ‘on track’ with public school or so that the kids aren’t enjoying learning. I still worry about it, but I think they’re pretty well ‘on-target’ with their grade level, and that is reassuring. That’s my hold-out issue; staying ‘on-track’. I think that worry will lessen as time passes and we settle more into homeschooling.
There are, of course, some things that I want to get back in a better habit of doing. For the first few months, I read to the kids almost every day. Now, they read aloud every day, but I rarely read to them unless it’s something on the lesson plan. I miss that, so I will be adding more literature and story-time for next year – actually scheduling it so it doesn’t slide. More along that line of thought to come; I’m working on a Lesson Planning for 2011 post that will be up soon.
Aside from a curriculum to teach, there are some things that are essential for a new homeschooler. If you’re just starting out, here’s my list of must have items to make homeschooling ‘go’:
- a good lesson planner & calendar
- 100 quality pencils and an electric pencil sharpener. Click or pink erasers would not go amiss.
- skip crayons; opt for quality colored pencils
- case of copy paper or two and a quality printer and plenty of ink refills
- internet access
- Counting rack/abacus, globe or world map (globe is better), a comfy chair for Mom
Another thing I found to be most helpful this year has been establishing a firm support foundation, both in real life and on the internet. Meeting local homeschooling families has given both me and the boys a social outlet as well as afforded us more active learning opportunities via field trips and group events. In addition to ‘real’ hand-holding, I’ve found so many homeschooling moms who are willing to share on forums and through blog recommendations. You ladies have no idea how helpful you’ve been; how valuable and encouraging your experiences and stories and accounts of day-to-day homeschooling life have been to me. Thank you so much for sharing!
First Day of Homeschooling
Homeschooling, Year 1 is Complete
Without a doubt, this year has been a rousing success. It’s been such a joy and privilege to share our first year with you, dear reader, and I thank you for your comments, feedback and unwavering support! Homeschooling has been wonderful for us, and I am so grateful that we have this opportunity. I’m looking forward to sharing next year with you as well.
From our family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!