It’s that time of year: The weather is getting warmer, flowers are blossoming, and the kids are getting even more antsy during school time. The school year is almost over and it’s now time for our school year review!
It’s crazy to think that we’re about to complete our first legit year of homeschooling. After feeling defeated when I tried to homeschool Daniel in Kindergarten, then juggling between Montessori School and Public School for a couple of years, we finally did it.
The Beginning of the Year
At the beginning of the year, I had high hopes for the AmblesideOnline Curriculum. There was to be a lot of peaceful reading as the kids narrated through drawings on their art pads. We would cover many different subjects and electives, but still finish for the day, not long after lunch, due to smaller lesson times. Then the kids could expound on what they learned through play. We would discover the outdoors through Nature Walks – documenting what we found in nature journals, and in some cases, with water colors.
Then along came reality… at least the reality of my family in this season of our lives. My kids pretty much hated having to draw as I read to them. Instead of peace, there were many arguments, whining, and tears. The electives like Solfa, French, and Handiworks were great, but became too much of a burden as I also dealt with some depression during the first half of our school year. Nature Walks rarely happened for the same reason. We attempted a few times, but I felt like they were getting more from their outside play. Due to the issues we were having with implementing Charlotte Mason’s methods, I felt that the kids weren’t getting very much out of science and history. Done correctly, I knew that these subjects should really foster creativity and a sense of excitement. Instead, what we had was drudgery and boredom. But we continued to push through… for a while at least.
As any good homeschooling mother would, I was talking with a friend and my sister about our homeschooling choices and methods. My friend started talking about how they were using this curriculum called Sonlight. I had heard of it before, but never really looked into it. They were having a lot of success with it, and it sounded like it embodied a lot of the ideals that I wanted in my homeschool. I liked the philosophy of Charlotte Mason, as well as the Classical Philosophy, and the concept that both of them have regarding the importance of good literature. However, I needed something that would also hold the attention of my children. Sonlight sounded like it could be right up our alley, so I looked into it a little more.
Within a couple of weeks, I had bought a science kit from Sonlight followed shortly after by their history. We have not been disappointed. My kids started getting excited about science – they would point things out in their play that corresponded with what they were learning. During history, instead of tears and arguments, I was getting questions – How? What? Why? The lessons themselves aren’t long, but still get the point across.
What Stayed the Same
Even though we changed a few things, there are other aspects of our homeschool that have remained relatively the same. Math-U-See continues as our math program, and Logic of English as our English/Phonics program. Earlier on in the year, I would only teach English for about 20 minutes and then stop where we were until the next day. This process was nice in the sense of time and the kids’ attention spans. However, I felt like we were moving through the book at an extremely slow pace. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed to be at the detriment of learning the material as effectively. So for now, we’re taking it a lesson at a time, which takes 30-45 minutes per child (Yes – A LOT of time, but worth it for us). I may play around with it a little more though.
As I mentioned, we dropped French for a little while, but we did end up loosely picking it back up again. We didn’t go back to the original book we were using, but turned to YouTube instead. Here we found “French with Alexa,” which was really informative. However, just recently, I was able to purchase Rosetta Stone at 1/2 price through Sonlight, so we’ll be using that.
I’m also still holding onto the ideals held in the book “Teaching From Rest.” …Which I’m about due to read again. This was the place where I first heard about year-round homeschooling. All of us have enjoyed taking a break from school roughly every 6 weeks, so it looks like I’ll be continuing that into the next school year.
Daily School Routine
Our daily schedule has morphed a bit throughout the year, but I’m enjoying the rhythm we have going right now. We start the day between 8 & 9 AM, with 8:30AM being our “happy start time.” We’ll say our morning prayers and start with our Religious studies. This consists of the 1st Communion Prep from our church for the oldest two, and the Faith and Life series Book 2 for all. Then we move into History, followed by Science. These don’t usually take a lot of time, so Math comes soon after. On most days, that is completed around 10 or 10:30AM. Then comes English. Most of the time the boys are finished before lunch, and then I work with Virginia after lunch. On a really good day, we can get all those main subjects completed before lunch.
Electives like Art and Music happen sporadically through the year. During our stint with handiwork and schola, we incorporated these more frequently through singing, and carving soap. Currently, they find their way into our day more spontaneously. Many days I’ll put on some classical music while we’re cleaning or to promote a more peaceful atmosphere during quiet time. As for art, the children are always crafting, drawing, cutting, and pasting. Although, there are times when I’ll purposefully pull out the special watercolor paints so they can practice with a different medium.
Being part of our homeschool community has added many perks to our homeschool. The kids have been able to pursue their interests through our fall and spring co-ops. Birds, Teamwork Skills, Books, Plants, and Animals have all been topics that they’ve been able to cover just this year. There is also homeschool soccer in the fall and spring, which the kids are taking part in for the first time this spring. Before that, we were able to get in some PE at a local gym thanks to one of the moms who would open it up every Friday. Virginia also goes to a Little Flowers Catholic Girls Club where she can get in some girl time and learn more about saints and virtues. Although there is a boy’s equivalent called Blue Knights, we weren’t able to participate in that this year.
We’re All Learning
Over-all, I’m really happy with how this year progressed. The kids learned many things, but I learned a lot too. Homeschooling may not be for everyone, but if it’s something that is sitting on your heart don’t be afraid to try. As you can see, we had a few years where it just wasn’t time for our family, but now it is. Even then, we had to learn the learning style of our family and tweak our schooling along the way. That pretty much goes for any homeschool mom you’ll talk to. There are times when I feel a sense of guilt for not using a specific curriculum, but the guilt is unfounded. All we can do is what we feel is best and what works for our family within the constraints of the law. So, go on! Do your research and get started! (I have a starter list below to help you out).
Mother of Divine Grace
Catholic Heritage Curricula
Teaching Textbooks – Math
Logic of English
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