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!)

Dear Candy Hearts | Little Letters Vol.1



Dear Candy Hearts, I love you.  I love you too much, especially with tea.  This has become a really unhealthy relationship.  I'm thinking of breaking it off on Valentine's Day.

Dear Galentine's Day, Are you actually a thing?  Like, do people actually get together with their girlfriends on Galentine's Day?  How do I get in on that?

Dear Husband, Why is it so hard to buy you presents?

Dear Snow, It's time for your mid-year performance review, and I have to say, your results are above average.  You've beautified the landscape, and you haven't melted off right away.  Keep up the good work.



Dear Red Rising Series, Why are you so hard to put down?  You are vulgar.  You are violent.  You killed off alot of the characters I liked.  You are everything I don't like in books.  If you were a human, we would not be friends.  So why can't I stop reading??

Dear Birds, Just sit.  Sit still.  Just for a minute, so my bird-crazy boy can get a picture of one of you. Please and thank you.




Dear Homeschooling,  You are so much more fun than I thought you would be when we first met.  And I thought you would be pretty fun.  Those days when I cried because I thought we weren't getting along, they were just a phase.  I didn't mean what I said.  If it happens again, just disregard.  In my saner moments (like now) I think there is something special here, and I know you can handle my crazy.  This relationship is worth fighting for.

Dear Churches Everywhere,  At the risk of being shouted down for dipping my toes into the broiling controversy of church music - my friend, it shouldn't be that hard to get the music volume level right.  It's not that complicated - I need to be able to hear the words and I need to feel like I can sing along.  If I can't hear the words or sing along, I fail to see the point of getting to you in time for the music.  If the music is too quiet, I hear myself sing too much, and realize I'd be one of those people that are laughed off the stage on American Idol, which is not fun for me or anyone around me.  If the music is too loud, I can't understand a word those people up front are saying, and I can't hear myself sing, and I can't hear anyone else sing, and I start to wonder what the point of all this noise is anyway, and I fear my eardrums may bleed when I leave.  Let's just try to avoid both these things, please.

Dear People Everywhere, Think of something more interesting to say about my five kids than "you have your hands full".  If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase, I'd never have to scrounge for coffee money again.  Preferably, pick something that is not rude, and bonus points if it's encouraging (because as you've noted EVERY DAY OF MY MOM-LIFE, yes, this is quite a job).  Comments on the cuteness of my offspring are always welcome.

P.S. People Everywhere, if you want to GIVE me a dollar each time you utter the aforementioned phrase, then please continue.  This mom needs her coffee.


(Moi on our nature hike the other day, powered by coffee.)

Stuff I Like | January 2019



I'm going to try something new here on the blog and share different things I'm liking or loving each month.  I always enjoy reading these kinds of posts myself, and I'm hoping to put together my own once a month as part of my blog goals this year.  We'll see how it goes!

The Book With No Pictures - My kids are finally old enough to find this book completely hilarious, and what makes them happy makes me happy.  Also check out the book I'm Just No Good At Rhyming.  Derek and I have laughed our way through the title poem, but the kids were cracking up at "The Sweetest Lullaby Ever" and "Hey Kids! Get Your Parents To Read This Poem!"  You have to have a goofy side to your personality to make any of these work!

Wild Thing podcast - You all know I live in the mountains, and supposedly people have sighted Bigfoot in our area.  I think there was even an episode of Finding Bigfoot filmed here.  There is a local Bigfoot club.  I know people who believe Bigfoot is a real thing.  I'm not convinced it's not a real thing.  After visiting Washington last year and seeing how much wilderness is out there, I can see how something might be able to hide in those woods.  Anyway, if you have even a little part of you that is interested in learning more about Bigfoot, Wild Thing is a fun podcast to check out!  It's an investigative podcast about...you guessed it...Bigfoot.

You probably could skip episode 2 since it's all about evolutionary theories (which I don't agree with), and watch out for one inappropriate part in episode 8 that you'll have to skip past - but also, my town is mentioned in that episode, ha!  Told you, Bigfoot is big here (no pun intended, but it's funny right?).

These two articles - Weirdly, in the last month two completely unrelated friends have brought up the same question: "What happens to people who never get an opportunity to hear the gospel?"  I've been frustrated with myself for not being as concise and clear as I wish I could be during these recent discussions, because the Bible is clear on what happens to people who never hear about Jesus.  It's a hard question and perhaps a hard answer, but "there is no other name under Heaven by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-13). It is only through Christ that we are saved. These two articles solidly answer this question biblically, and say everything I was trying to say to my friends, only better.  Definitely worth a read if you've ever ran into (or wondered about) this question.  What Happens To Those Who Have Never Heard About Jesus?  Can A Person Be Saved Through General Revelation?  

Also a quick note: I think if someone in a remote tribe (for example) is truly seeking after God, that is a work He has begun in their heart, and He will get the Gospel to them.  It's important to remember that God is infinitely more compassionate and just than we are, and everything He does is good and right. You have to start with that understanding or this question can never be answered satisfactorily.

Little Letters Linkup - I've been thinking alot about old-fashioned blogging this month, not just what happened to old fashioned blogging, but whether and how it can make a comeback.  As far as I can tell, there are precious few old-school linkups still going, which is a pity - I used to find so many other blogs to read through a good linkup.  They used to be very social things, where you wouldn't just drop your link and run, but you'd take time to look around and make connections with other bloggers.  Well, recently I came across this "Little Letters" linkup.  Guys, I think we should participate!  Sharing mini-letters to random things in your life - old-fashioned blogging used to be all about this sort of post, and I want to support it.  So keep an eye out for my little letters post in the next few days, and write one too if you want!

The Big Words Of The Bible Cards - Still loving these cards, which you can read more about here.

Snow - We had several snow days in January, and I am loving the snow so much!  It's supposed to snow again today, and I couldn't be happier.  It's pretty, and it's moisture.  If we don't get snow, then there is a much higher likelihood of wildfires in the summer.  So bring on the white stuff!




Did you find any new stuff you like in January?

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