How's School Going? A Mid-Year Homeschool Update



A couple weeks ago, we hit our 100th day of school for the year.  I have seen alot of celebrations for the 100th day in public schools, in which parents are supposed to dress their children up like 100-year-olds.  It's adorable and funny and completely... something that I have no desire to do!  As an un-crafty mom, one of the perks of homeschooling to me is that I don't have to come up with themed costumes and seasonal crafts unless I want to, ha!  So I'll just do a mid-year recap to mark our 100th day instead.  Here is how it's going:


Curriculum and My Plan

I am actually very happy with all the curriculum I picked for this year, and I have no complaints!  You can read in-depth about my second grade and kindergarten plan in this post, but here is a quick summary:

Reading:  All About Reading/ All About Spelling
Writing: Institute For Excellence In Writing
Math: Rightstart
History: Beautiful Feet Books for ourselves, and Story Of The World for co-op.
Science: ? A mix, but mainly Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding
Geography/Social Studies: My Story (Master Books)

I'm going to be really honest and say we have been doing fantastic at staying on schedule with the first four subjects listed there, but Science and Geography?  Not so much.

A week before Christmas we had "Science Week" and knocked out several science lessons (lessons I had hoped to do once a week - oops).  Science Week actually worked really well for us, so I think we will be doing something similar toward the end of the year.  We are on track to finish our reading curriculum early, and I'm thinking that before I pick up the next level, we may incorporate a couple weeks where we do some science lessons in leu of formal reading instruction.  I'd also like to point out that I have a very science-y second grader, and he reads almost exclusively about science-related topics during his free time.  I totally count that.

As far as our Geography/Social Studies book, I think I'm just going to call that a casualty of the year and move on.  The kids are getting different social studies and geography lessons naturally as we discuss our history lessons, so I am okay with not making it through the book I had picked out for Wyatt this year.



Our Routine

It was difficult for us to get into a routine during the first part of this year because we had several weeks when we were packing/moving/unpacking/major remodeling, so we had to squeeze schoolwork in wherever we could.  It got done, but there was no routine.  Now that we are (mostly) settled in and there is no major remodeling going on, I have been pleasantly surprised by how we have found our rhythm.

This is how our ideal homeschool day looks.  Keep in mind this is an ideal.  Usually we end up not doing at least one of these things each day, but over the course of a week it all evens out.

-Morning Time during breakfast.  This time would include our hymn singing time, Bible reading, Bible memorization, catechism, and other memory work.

-Play time.  I let the kids get all their energy out, and they play most of the morning while I read, bake, clean, or write.

-History over lunch.  Our history curriculum uses picture books to teach American history, and my kids love it.  We read it, I have the two big kids narrate what they remember back to me, and we discuss the chapter.

-Individual instruction in the afternoon.  The little ones go down for nap/quiet time after lunch.  While I'm getting them settled, I usually have the big kids work on copywork, writing projects, or math practice.  Then I spend nap time doing bookwork with the big kids.  On a good day we knock out math for both kids, reading for both kids, and writing and spelling for Wyatt (Gwen doesn't do these subjects yet).

-Fun stuff after nap.  If I have a good amount of energy, then after the little kids wake up we might do an extra "fun" subject, like a drawing tutorial or a nature walk.

I know this is kind of unusual for a homeschool schedule - most homeschoolers like to finish school in the morning and have free time in the afternoon.  However, with the little ones, it really works better for us right now to do schoolwork during their nap time.  I thought I would really miss having nap time to myself, but I don't.  My kids keep each other so occupied with play, that most mornings I still have time for things I want to accomplish, and often time to relax and read too.  I think I actually get more "me time" with this schedule than if I reversed it, because my big kids don't nap anymore anyway and they get bored during nap time if we don't have schoolwork to do.


My Developing Philosophy

As a homeschool mom, I've grown and changed alot this year.  I'll probably write a full post at the end of the year with lessons I've learned about homeschooling and some of the philosophies I'm developing for our family, but as a quick preview/recap, these are some things that teaching each subject has taught me this year.

Reading:  It's amazing how much your child can improve in reading skills when you quit giving them reading lessons over break.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm amazed every time.

Writing/Spelling: I have never worried about adding in writing (as in composition/creative writing) and spelling until my child has some solid reading skills under their belt, and it's worked really well for us thus far.  Formal writing and spelling has been no big deal with Wyatt so far this year (aside from complaining about copywork, but I'm pretty sure that's normal).

History: The biggest struggle with history has been helping the kids remember what we read, which is why I have them narrate back to me (read more about narration here).  We were getting a little sloppy about narration until I gave Wyatt and Gwen a talk and told them I'm serious about it and there would be consequences for them if they did not pay attention and have a reasonable narration to give me after our readings (I have no idea what the consequence would be, I just said that, ha!).  It's amazing how many details they have been remembering since then.  Note To My Future Self: Do not slack off on narration!  It's worth it to do it right.

Science: You do not have to do science every day, or even every week.  You can cram it all into two weeks at the end of the year if you want.  It makes no difference in the end.

Math: I purposely planned for Gwen to only make it through one half of our math curriculum in her kindergarten year, and it was absolutely a good decision.  This year I've really been ironing out my math philosophy for my particular kids, and if I had to sum it up I'd say it's "slow and steady wins the race".  If a kid is specially gifted at math and can get ahead of grade level easily, that's great!  But at this elementary stage, my main goal is that they progress, they like it (as much as can be reasonably expected), and they feel like they are fairly good at it.  Sometimes maintaining those three things means choosing to take it slow instead of pushing ahead.  I think sometimes the difference between a high schooler who is good at math and one who isn't is a matter of their attitude toward math.  I'd like to build a foundation of a good attitude toward math now.

Geography/Social Studies: I sort of understand why these are separate subjects, but sort of not.  Aren't these things incorporated into history lessons?  That's how we are approaching it anyway.

As I was preparing to write this post, I asked some of my Instagram buddies (follow me here) if there were any topics they'd like me to cover in this mid-year post.  I got so many good questions!  I touched on some of those topics in this post, but I decided to actually turn some of those questions into their own posts.  So stay tuned!

(My munchkins, minus Georgie.)

How is the school year going for all of you? (Homeschool or private/public schoolers, feel free to comment!)
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Amanda said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only homeschooler who tends to do school in the afternoons. My kids want to play all morning, so I let them. One huge reason I've loved homeschooling this year is because it allows my kids to be kids. They get so much play time! I'd love to wake up and start our day earlier and finish school by lunch, but this season just works better with an afternoon school routine.

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad you posted about this! My son is 6.5, but bilingual, so we are going very slowly and planning to start more formal homeschooling when he is 7. I'm thinking about doing a 4 day week so that we can have more time for his second language, with playdates or whatever. I've been keeping a growing list of supplies we need to get in the U.S. this summer. We can't get materials in English from the library here so we'll have to bring all the books over in suitcases. But that's okay! It's a good investment. We're still trying to use "100 Easy Lessons" and it's just so boring...so we're kind of speeding through a little bit to get to the other letters. My son also has a hard time with the writing as his muscles fatigue easily. So I switched back to doing more tactile work with just moving letter shapes around and not actually writing them. I actually meant to comment on scheduling. Since outside time is important, I'm not sure that we would do all our lessons before lunch either. I will say that my son tends to complain that he's tired, so chores and anything he considers "work" has to be done earlier in the day, or at least before recreational time. As you pointed out, some lessons can just be reading on the couch or even (gasp) watching a video. So the way I understand, math and writing would be the main ones for sitting down at a table, although even then you could move around. I'm looking forward to doing geography as I feel like I retained so little from my school days. Also, my son is the type to fool around and then pull a perfect answer out of nowhere. I have my work cut out for me!

Michelle said...

Are you doing a classical co-op? I recognize Story of the World and your writing program from the co-op I’ve been sort of interested in.

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