Well, our little one is still happily baking and has not made an appearance yet! So today, I’m spending some time finishing up a few blog posts, organizing summer learning activities for Bundle, baking, and praying for patience!
Although time seems to be crawling like an inchworm in terms of waiting for Baby, I can hardly believe we’ve nearly finished our first year of “official” (documented) homeschooling with Bundle. Is it really May already?
This week she and I are finishing up a few assessments from her phonics curriculum, organizing files and creating new, fun learning activities for the summer, and just having some plain old fun in our school area with plants, play dough, water, and wooden blocks. Due to baby’s arrival any day now (and due to starting the year a few weeks earlier than anticipated back in August) my goal was to “finish school” by the first week of May. So I guess, with joy and with melancholy, I realize this is it! What a year!
I thought I’d jot down a few reflections I’ve mulled over this year regarding homeschooling and how it’s working for our family. It’s always fun to look back and remember those perfectly messy, crazy, not-on-the-plan lessons that popped up, the play dates at parks with friends, the field trips, and the times when that one tough concept really clicked (my favorite part, always, of teaching).
As I reflect on this homeschooling year, I’ve learned…
1. Keep curriculum simple. This has kept us well-organized, and Bundle is thriving with the continuity. I wanted to focus this year on phonics and reading concepts, emergent reading, and a bit of basic mathematics. I used one reproducible workbook for math, and one curriculum/workbook for phonics. That’s it! Everything else we covered – science, Bible, STEAM and sensory activities – used supplementary materials from garage sales, Pinterest, online, and our local library. No other curricula. It was absolutely worth for us to create a plan and stick to it all year.
2. If you have a hard time finding a homeschooling community, create one! Homeschooling in a small town can be tough – fewer resources, smaller community (and thus, smaller numbers of homeschoolers)…but if you’re struggling to find other families to connect with, don’t be afraid to reach out! I started a Facebook support group for our homeschoolers (or those interested in homeschooling) in our county, and it’s been wonderful to meet new people throughout the year! We continue to make friends from all educational backgrounds at church, the library, the dance studio, and even the park, and it’s really enriched our school year.
3. Making your homeschool YOURS is so worth it. It’s been vital for me as Bundle’s main teacher to create a daily and weekly schedule that suits her academic, social and emotional needs. She can’t function full-steam at 8 a.m. She takes nearly an hour to eat breakfast, and needs another half hour just for creative play time before anything else can happen. About halfway through the year (I know, so late!), I sat down at wrote out a borderline micro-managed schedule for her, and worried it was far too intense and detailed. But I was wrong – she thrives off of that schedule! The actual “school” part of our day goes SO much more smoothly when I remember HER needs – academic and otherwise.
4. Play time is an educational necessity. Play time is absolutely 200% a huge part of school! For real! Younger kids – preschool through first or second grade – really need play time for proper development, and for Bundle, creative and dramatic play boost her other school related activities like reading and math. We love riding bikes, using our water table, playing with play dough, using felt pretend food for tea parties, and playing library.
5. Praying over our homeschool is vital – and effective! The more Hubby and I pray over our homeschool, the more confident and happy we grow in our decision to teach our kids at home for foreseeable future. This might be a “duh” statement – I mean, of course prayer helps!! But I can never learn enough times how visibly and potently God works through prayer in our children, no matter where they are or what they’re doing or what decisions we’re struggling to make as their parents.
Goals we accomplished:
- Started and worked through a Kindergarten phonics curriculum
- Incorporated Bible and character education into our mornings
- Added weekly play dates, library story time, and a gymnastics class to our holistic learning schedule
- Used our garden as a science mainstay
- Made lots of new homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends!
- And for me personally, I blogged lots more about the homeschooling topic! Something I’ve been wanting to do more of all year long.
Goals we have for the summer:
- Enjoy Baby Brother joining the family and experiencing his “firsts”
- Pick berries at a local berry patch
- Spend tons of time outside
- …and keeping cool in our basement!
- For Mommy, taking a true break, and not worrying about next year’s plans or curriculum until the end of July! (Hopefully…I start to drool once I see school supplies in stores, so this one might be a lost cause…)
So as this month of May begins and school draws to a close for us, I’m so thankful for the many blessings homeschooling has offered this year.
I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!
How are you wrapping up the school year?