Today I was watching end of school and graduation pictures fill my Facebook news feed. It made me realize that, as of this week, it’s been an entire year since all the kids came home.
I would lie and say, “I didn’t think I’d be able to make it without the support of the UMS,” but if you’re reading this blog and you know me, you know I’d be lying. I was looking forward to the day that all four kids were home and I didn’t have to worry about any requirements than those of the state.
I have, however, learned a lot about myself and my children this year, and wanted to write about some things that worked and didn’t work for us this year.
Things That Worked
1. Our switch in October to an interest-led educational format. I realized at some point that trying to make the kids learn about things that they weren’t interested in was kind of like beating my head against the wall. Why wouldn’t we do what we enjoyed?
2. Life of Fred math. They don’t cry about math anymore. Seriously. Also the math concepts are solid.
3. Book club. We joined a homeschool group book club in October, and the assigned books in the club actually drove a good bit of inquiry and learning. It was actually when we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins that I completely abandoned curriculum. Why shouldn’t we spend a whole month learning about penguins?
4. Morning Bible and Read-Aloud time. Morning read-alouds are my secret weapon. We all get to choose stuff to read, even me. It’s been a great way to introduce books and new ideas, and even to suggest ideas.
5. Leaving the television off until lunchtime. Television and video games often spur creativity. They also often suck away that same energy and creativity. I’m not saying that we never play video games or watch television before lunch. I’m just saying that we try and have a little time where our things to do list does not complete with media.
6. A general routine. Rose likes to know that she can predict what we’re going to do next on our days at home. Firecracker would prefer no routine, but doesn’t do well when one is not in place. I like a happy house and routine right now is a key.
7. Covering less material, but doing it well. You either get this point or you don’t We seem to do better if we spend more time covering fewer things and working with our hands to create based on our learning.
What Didn’t Work
1. Obsessive planning. I just ended up spending time and money planning stuff that we never did because the interest either wasn’t there or didn’t get to it. I’ve sworn off doing too much planning ahead.
2. Morning journals. I had such a vision of everyone sitting around in the morning and writing. I think I might be the only writer in the house right now.
3. Disruptive toddlers. They are getting better, and we’re learning how to incorporate everyone into our day. Sometimes, we still just have to stop what we’re doing and say, “Is doing this more important or is our brother/sister more important?”
4. More attention to the oldest child than anyone else. I admit it. Firecracker is an attention sucker. Also he only wants to do what he’s interested in and nothing else. I’m considering including Rose’s interests into our studies as character development for Firecracker. (Also, he needs to be just a little more independent I’m pursuing his interests.)
5. We didn’t do a great job at covering history this year. It’s my fault for not strewing enough history stuff in their paths.
Overall we had a great year and I’m pleased with the kids’ progress. Since we’re almost unschoolers, of course, summer break doesn’t really happen in our house, so we will be continuing on in our usual fashion. However, I just wanted to stop for a moment and think about the past year, so that I can begin to set some goals for next year.