I can’t tell you how many times in the past six months I’ve looked over at my husband and whispered, “I’m so glad we’re doing this.” Deciding to homeschool was scary, but it’s the best decision we could have made. Now it’s the end of the year, and I’m taking some time to look back at where we’ve been and ahead at all of the exciting things to come.
\Reflecting on our time spent homeschooling…
The one-on-one time I’ve gotten to spend with my oldest has been truly priceless. Thinking back, my favorite moments have been just sitting together reading or going somewhere – just the two of us. Just the amount of time we have is special.
But the way I’ve started to look at time, plans, and fitting it all in has changed.
It has been a big transition. A mind shift from being a public school teacher where there’s always a test. A schedule. A deadline. An end date. Now our time feels more expansive. I’ve let go of some of the (self imposed) pressure to finish. There’s always tomorrow, it seems. Even when tomorrow turns into next week.
The funny thing is the more we slow down the more quickly he learns. There have been many times I’ve set something aside – a workbook, a book, our plans, a week of plans – and we’ve gone in a totally different direction. Only to return later and realize that he was learning what he needed the whole time.
The best example of this was in his reading instruction. There we were, chugging along with our level 2 readers, completing our Explode the Code workbook daily. Doing all kinds of reading and language activities. When suddenly all instruction came to a screeching halt. We were reading a Magic Treehouse book together when he decided that he wanted to read it himself. Well, he couldn’t read himself yet. His eyes weren’t getting all the way across the page. The vocabulary was too hard. It was just too much!
Slow down, honey. You’ll be able to read them eventually. Let’s look at this nice book instead! No? How about this one? No? This one? No? We can practice our phonics and that will help get you closer to reading. No? How about I read to you? Okay, bud time to stop screaming at mom now.
I knew I couldn’t force him. There’s no turning this kid around when he digs in. (Oh honey, I’m so glad we’re doing this. He wouldn’t be able to pull this with a teacher.) So we took a break. It was a long break, which I convinced myself was okay because, after all, we have the time. Instruction stopped. Going to classes stopped. We even stopped going to the playground so much because the only thing he would do without complaint was listen or read Magic Tree House books.
I was nervous. He was listening to all different books on tape at once. He wanted me to read him the end of the story first because he was so impatient to find out what happened. A week went by, and he still refused to do anything else. But he couldn’t read! Until he could.
I don’t know how it happened. He had read a few paragraphs here and there. Then, one day he was just like, “Mom, I’m going to read Dinosaurs before Dark now.” And he did. He just sat down and read it. He made it through the first six chapters before he was too tired to go on. First thing in the morning he finished the rest. He’s so stubborn. I think he just wanted to prove he could do it. (Honey, I’m so glad we are doing this. He would have never been able to do this on his own if he were in school right now.)
We’ve both learned a lot, here, at the beginning of kindergarten. I’d venture to say he did most of the teaching. He taught himself to read chapter books with a backpack of paperbacks and pure determination. He taught me to trust him. Not just with reading. This is basically his preferred style of learning.
I’m so glad we are doing this.
Last week I asked him a few questions about how he felt kindergarten was going. I sat him down, looked him in the eye, and told him that I had some serious questions to ask. Eyerolling ensued.
What do you want to do more of? Everything. What do you want to do less of? Nothing. Do you like it when we learn together at home? Yes, let’s do more of that. Do you like taking classes with other kids? Yes, let’s do more of that. Do you like meeting with the co-op group? Yes, let’s do more of that. What do you like better – when I read to you or when you read to me? Both, let’s do more of that! …and on it went.
In his own true style, he just wants MORE. More activities. More math. More reading. More science. More geography. More art. More field trips. The kid has an insatiable urge to learn. At times it’s hard to keep up with – like on Sunday morning when he’s insisting that it’s Paperwork Day and practicing his scissor skills on his own hair…
But these are the good kinds of problems. The alternative would be sitting in his principal’s office. I’ve been called to the principal’s office as an adult. Not a place I want to return to.
I may have mentioned that I’m so glad we’re doing this. Homeschooling kindergarten was not a big adjustment. I was already home with all the kids, and we have all been learning together for years. It feels like the natural progression for our family even though it’s not generally perceived that way.
A look ahead at 2017
Coming Up for Our Homeschool
Language Arts & Geography: We just finished up Europe with Build Your Library. The Around the World theme aligns so perfectly with his interests and is nicely complemented by the Magic Tree House books. We’ll be continuing with BYL in first grade with Ancients. Look for curriculum review and resources for that in the coming year!
Our Math Basket met his needs perfectly for the first half of kindergarten. We’ve also been using some streaming resources for math that I’m looking forward to sharing. More playlists on Some Random Lady’s YouTube on the way. We’ll also be working on plenty of side lessons – time and measurement to go along with our Introduction to Money.
I ordered Math in Focus to start in January, but he demanded to start in November instead. We are about a quarter of the way through and enjoying it. He likes having a page-by-page guide and workbook a lot more thank I’d predicted. I’ll be working on a curriculum review and flip-through for the first grade materials soon. I imagine we will continue with the second grade set. We both like the Singapore methods. Review and flip for those toward the end of 2017.
Handwriting: He has grown in leaps and bounds this year. From barely being able to touch his pencil to paper in August to writing neat and legible words in December. His grip and letter formation has come really far. I’m so happy that I spent so much time working out a shoestring approach to Handwriting Without Tears. The kinesthetic activities, especially, have made a big difference. We will continue with our kindergarten plan through June or so. Possibly moving to the first grade HWT in August.
Phonics: We’ve been using Explode the Code for phonics, which he has enjoyed. Even though he’s already reading, it’s helpful for him to transfer those sounds to paper. He’s figuring out how to spell and asking how to spell all. the. time. We will be continuing with ETC book 2, as we’ve just completed book 1. I will be investigating spelling programs to use in August. I think by then he’ll be ready to move on from basic phonics. I’ll let you know our picks!
Phys Ed: Along with plenty of outdoor time, swimming and gymnastics lessons, we’ve been practicing yoga almost daily with Cosmic Kids on YouTube. Jaime even gave us a shout after seeing my little ones on Instagram. Definitely a highlight of our kindergarten year! We will continue to integrate these fun stories into our lesson plans when we can, like with our South America animal studies. Looking forward to integrating some of the episodes in with our Language Arts and Literature lessons next year!
Science: Using the animal studies from BYL as a jumping off point has been a great starting point for kindergarten science, but my little scientist wants to explore more! We’ve been taking science classes at our museum and library, which have been fantastic. Santa heard his Christmas wish for a “big, thick, fat book” and is delivering an Encyclopedia of Science this year. My current plan is to just keep following his interests, read a lot, share science playlists, and explore nature studies with BYL 1.
Plans and Routines
We’ve fallen into a nice rhythm which is sure to be disrupted when he heads to gymnastics day camp for the next two weeks. Whoops. Our schedule has changed quite a bit since the beginning of the year. It’s less routine now. He is becoming a bit more flexible than he was previously – not asking for a list schedule as much! I’ll be excited to share a day-in-the-life post with you this year so you can get a peek at what our general day-to-day looks like in kindergarten with two little ones underfoot.
I’ll also be sharing my homeschool planner. How I set it up and use it to track annually, monthly, and daily. I’m converting a standard planner this year and have . No more ten thousand printables to look at. More about my planning plans here.
Sending out a huge Thank You to all my readers and supporters. When I set our to share our homeschooling journey, I had no idea how much love, support, and inspiration I would receive from friends, family, and the homeschool community. I’ve met some amazing women over the last few months. Ladies who aremothers, teachers, planners, business owners, and all around awesome people. I feel so lucky to be a part of the homeschooling world- online and in person!
If you’ve come across this blog because you’re thinking about homeschooling, please reach out. The decision to homeschool can be daunting. It’s different. You may not know anyone who does it. It’s difficult to go against the mainstream, but there is community out there if you look for it.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.