Wrapping Up Our Homeschool Year

Now that we’ve finished up this school year and I’m finishing plans for the next year, I’ve been reflecting on what went well this year, and what didn’t go so well.

This was Lindsey’s first year of homeschooling; before she came to live with us, she’d never even known anyone who homeschooled. We enrolled her in a hybrid homeschool for the first semester, but withdrew her and did school entirely at home for the second semester. She is still not entirely “sold” on homeschooling, but she has accepted that this is the plan unless the Lord clearly shows us otherwise.

My main goal this year was survival. Adding another child to our home/school-day when we adopted Lindsey was more of a challenge than I had anticipated, but largely because I just didn’t have enough time to prepare. So I have spent this year learning about Lindsey: her personality, her learning style, her likes and dislikes, what distracts her, how to motivate her, what grade level she’s on in various subjects, and so on. Much of it I am still learning. In addition to that, I hadn’t really anticipated how adding another student in our homeschool would impact Kathryn. In trying to keep my head above water, I stopped doing some of the things I know Kathryn enjoys.

I think, in trying to just survive the year with all it’s changes, I got a little off track from my real goals. I found this quote a week or so ago. It’s a great reminder for me:

We’re not trying to do “School at Home.” We’re trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom. Rather we’re trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days each week. The “formal” portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceberg.

– Steve & Jane Lambert, authors of the “Five In A Row” curriculum

So what will I change for next year?

  • We will do more reading aloud. I don’t know yet if this is something Lindsey will participate in; I hope so, but I don’t think it is something I will force. Kathryn really enjoys this, and it was a favorite part of her school days the years we primarily used Ambleside Online plans. So I’ll incorporate a good helping of Ambleside into the coming year’s curriculum.
  • We will do more outings. We may not do a field trip every month, but that’s still my goal. Ideally, I would like to get out of the house at least once every week, whether that’s a field trip, a nature walk (beyond our neighborhood), or just a picnic at the park. There are days we all get a bit stir-crazy, so I think this would help us all stay sane — and nice. 😉 In order to accomplish this, we may try to buy a second car sometime soon.
  • Our physical set-up may be different, especially if we have moved by then. We may try to set up a desk in Lindsey’s room for a few subjects. This would be for less opportunities for the girls to distract each other. Not sure yet how this may work.
  • I will be more actively available. I am never far during formal school hours, but sometimes I also do a bit of work for our photography business, which means I am not in the room with the girls then. I may move my office/computer so I can still work but be more physically present to talk or help with any school work. I also need to set a bit more of a schedule for myself in regards to work/homeschool planning/etc.
  • We will have weekly meetings of some kind. Barb does a planning meeting with her boys on Monday mornings, and a sort of weekly summary on Fridays. I love this idea, but not sure exactly what that will look like yet. I’m thinking an end-of-the week meeting would work well to discuss what we’ve learned, especially if we haven’t all sat together at the table all week for our school work.
  • We will have a more structured schedule; this applies in particular to Lindsey. She will have to get up and going earlier, and will have much more work because A) I was lax with her this year in order to let her sort of de-program from public school, and B) she’ll be starting high school level work.
  • We will incorporate the subjects I simply didn’t have the time or energy to do this year, including Music & Composer Studies, Poetry, Art & Artist Studies, and Life Skills.

I’ve already ordered most of next year’s curriculum, and after it all arrives, I plan to have a day (or weekend) when I lock myself in my room with a giant pile of curriculum and a notebook to figure out all the specifics of scheduling and such. Tea will definitely be involved; I don’t think clearly without it! 😉