Homeschool | Summer Edition


Summer has officially taken over here: the humidity and everything we try to do to stay cool. I’m sitting outside at what is slowly becoming my favorite time of morning: it turns out 9am can be as magical as 6am. Between walks, bike rides, swims, long evenings in our yard, outings around town, and visits to grandma and grandpa’s house, our days and weeks of summer are quickly ticking by. After our little vacation out west, I’ve taken an official break from my cell phone. I spent a lot of vacation time searching for GPS directions, campsites, hotels, and weather updates, and I just need a rest.

Something that is holding our summer schedule together is our morning school time about 3 days a week. I normally schedule in a little summer term of homeschool, but this year we’re still working on our spring semester that we haven’t completed yet. We work to complete our books, and between distractions and too many breaks this past year, we’re not quite finished yet.. whoops! But that’s the beauty of homeschooling; our books will be completed eventually, and learning is always happening– even when we take days “off”. Because my husband is a teacher, this summer has given me uninterrupted time with the girls working on their school while he takes care of the boys. We’re probably getting more work done these 3 days a week during the summer than we would get done in a full week of work during the semester without him here at home with us. I know I’m lucky to have the help, and I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can!

I’d probably define our homeschool method as eclectic. We tend to have a casual approach and use what works for each subject, often switching things up as needed. In the past 4 years of homeschooling we’ve tried nearly every form of homeschooling. We’ve tried traditional school at home, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, classical. I’ve definitely learned a lot these four years. I’m always trying to perfect what we do and always waiting to feel like I’ve finally found the perfect schedule, books, and routine. While I’m not sure that will ever happen, I am beginning to gather favorites! Whether favorite books or routines, I think discovering favorites is pretty close to finding what’s perfect for us! 

We’re on schedule to finish our spring 2019 work mid-July which will give us all about a month long break before beginning our fall semester late-August/early September. I’m already starting to plan for next semester when I’ll have 3 students at the table instead of just 2. I’m looking forward to a few changes that I’ll probably write about and share as I do more planning. For now, I hope you’re summer is going well! Do you homeschool year round? If you do let me know! I always enjoy hearing about how others plan their school days!

 

Homeschool Schedule

Every semester I’ve learned that our schedule has to be tentative because our routines will last a few weeks, and then we have to switch them up a bit to keep up with the natural changes in our home. When children are learning and growing so quickly, what works in August might not work in October. I love having a schedule to follow throughout the day: some days we follow it closely, but other days we struggle to accomplish anything worthwhile. I have our basic list of subjects for each semester on a master list to remind us each day to do at least a small lesson in each subject every day. Some subjects are daily subjects, and others are done 2-3 times a week. For instance, subjects that have lessons every day include math, phonics/language arts, handwriting/copywork, and reading. Subjects that have lessons 2-3 times a week include history, geography, social studies, science, and music lessons.

Looking at how we’ve ended up rearranging our semesters over the past few years, I’ve begun to notice the same on again/off again pattern in our scheduling. We are able to steadily keep up with our lessons for a couple months, and then we take a week or two off before starting back up again. We’ve unintentionally done this every semester, and it works well for us. This summer I was planning on taking the full summer break off, but we were all missing our structured lessons after a few weeks off (especially me!), so I created a summer term for our mornings that has fewer lessons, but still gives us some structure and feelings of normal. Honestly, that’s my favorite part about homeschooling: you can rearrange your schedule as much as you need to to keep your home running smoothly. There are some days that even I am not motivated to do our lesson work, and it’s nice being able to take the day off and go on an outing or just spend the day outdoors. Our goal is to finish any workbooks by the end of a school year, and keep each child at grade level with where they would be if they went to school. Our state doesn’t require end of the year testing, but we do have to report each student over the age of 5 to our local public school and enroll them as homeschooled. It’s so fun to see how things change over time. The beautiful thing about home schooling is everybody does it differently, and so many different ways work. You can modify and adapt lessons and schedules depending on the child and their learning style, and my teaching style can be individualized for each of my children. I’m looking forward to updating more on our home schooling this year as we go along!

A New Homeschool Year


I’ve always loved the beginning of a new school year: the blank notebooks, clean supplies, everything neat and organized, the excitement and new possibilities. It’s the most organized I am the entire school year. As I’ve been prepping for a new year over the last few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the past 3 years that we’ve been homeschooling, attempting to sort what has worked from what didn’t work; finding areas to improve, cutting aspects that just didn’t work out, and planning to re-implement the things that worked previously and will stay the same.

Each year has been very different, and I assume there will always be changes and ups and downs as kids change and more of them join us at the school table. Even our choice to homeschool is a continual discussion as we strive to make the right choice for our family each year. We don’t want to keep doing something simply because it’s how we’ve always done it, and we’re always open to other options if we need to do something different. So far, though, the joys and benefits of homeschooling have outweighed any cons for us, and we plan to continue another year.

One thing I’ve learned the past three years is that we do our best work in the mornings, and most days if we don’t get book work done in before lunch, it just doesn’t get done. In the past I’ve combated that by just allowing an off day each week and as play dates or activities or events get scheduled, I don’t even attempt book work that day. Most outings are filled with their own learning, whether they involve science, nature, local history, map skills, physical activity, or social activities. The more their minds are stretched and given new information in the real world, the more willing they are the next day to settle in with their books for learning at home.

I love gathering a list of bible verses and verses of poetry at the beginning of the school year, and then each weekend picking which ones we use each week for the weekly themes. We’re still experimenting with different books and curriculum that we like, but I’m starting to acquire favorites. For Kindergarten, we mainly just focus on learning how to read and write. We use a few workbooks and textbooks, and then frequent the library down the road to fill in or expand on what they are learning in their school books or to expand on what they’re interested in at the time. Some weeks I will go to the library and check out every book in the children’s section on a particular subject (we studied the moon and stars this summer); we will spend a week or two reading the books and doing projects that go with that theme. Sometimes I pick the topic, but the topic is usually chosen because one of the kids is particularly interested in a topic at the time.

After only a short summer school term in July, we’re all really looking forward to starting school this week. I love the structure it brings our days, and the kids are excited to begin something new. I know their excitement won’t last long, but I will enjoy it this week! I order all of our books from here (rainbowresource.com) if you are interested or looking for resources. I am definitely not an expert, but I’m having fun home schooling for now!