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!