Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling
For many of us here in the states, summer break has finally arrived. With it brings a collective cheer of joy from kids and parents alike. There is something about the end of the school year that just puts a smile on the face of every homeschooling mom I know. For me, just knowing that another essay or assignment isn’t required for a while is a welcomed relief.
Homeschooling is a tough job, and whether we take just a week or the whole summer off, sometimes, a well deserved break is just what the doctor ordered. As usual, after a couple rounds doing the happy dance, I like to take a moment to reflect on the school year.
Unfortunately, at first glance, this year hasn’t gone especially ideal for me. Going in, we had two new considerations to deal with — high school and speech therapy — both of which sucked up so much extra time and energy I didn’t have much left over for Kindergarten. Granted, I am a believer in playing-as-learning for the first year, but still, I wished I had been able to help my more daughter along her reading journey.
Added to the mix was a toddler who loved to climb and well, the days were just too busy and too filled with busywork. As we progressed through the year, however, I picked up a few lessons of my own.
Try Something New
We are seasoned homeschoolers and I like to think that all those years at it has taught us we a thing or two about how to get things done (or at least going). For one, I know that a rut is a perfectly natural progression of the year and nothing to well, fall in a rut about!
About midway through the year, we realized that our science co-op wasn’t working for us, so we had let it go to do our own thing, a move that I was hesitant to make because it’s wonderful having a break and leaving the teaching to someone else! Fortunately, the shift worked out great for us and we were able to take advantage of the remaining months of our membership to the local science museum.
With new therapy sessions also came a whole extra set of exercises that required one-on-one practice, a somewhat luxury with two in the five-and-under-crowd. These were necessary, however, and I learned to milk them for all their worth, combining as many subjects into one exercise as I could — reading, geography, writing, grammar, and research skills!
We even incorporated game time with reading, as an added bonus (Apples to Apples provides excellent words and phrases for sentence creation). I used this same tactic with my five-year-old, combining her online reading program with writing as well, though these were less frequent.
We took a test drive into the upcoming school year with a couple of high school subjects for my oldest. These were college prep courses with a lot more at stake. For the most part, we were just moseying along — until I realize we had just a few weeks of school left and a lot of chapters to get through.
At that point, I divvied up the rest of the lessons to manageable weekly slots, writing out exactly what should be completed at each point. It worked beautifully, and gave my son the roadmap he needed to move on his own, crossing off the assignments as he went.
A couple of subjects that did fall by the wayside were art, music, and, after our membership to the museum had ended, science, basically the “fun” subjects. But amazingly, the kids somehow managed to get these subjects under their belts through no effort on my part.
They learned to solder, connected circuits, wrote computer codes, designed updated models of their cardboard swords, cared for a baby bird, created page after page of drawings, learned numerous new complicated music pieces, and even managed to get a sound out of a trumpet (something I have yet to accomplish), among others.
Given that perspective, they didn’t lack in these subjects at all. It’s amazing what children can figure out on their own, if they just had access to a few kits and materials.
These were just a few of the strategies I applied this year that worked well for us. Each year, of course, grows a little differently, but it’s nice to have some tricks under the belt to get things moving.
Now if only I can squeeze in “learning to ride a bike” this summer, it would be the cherry on top of a great year of learning.
What have you learned from the school year? What worked well for you and what would you change next year?