There are many reasons why for my family we decided to start homeschooling. I won’t get into all those reasons now, I’ll save that for another post. But now that we are winding down the school year and I have started preparing for next year I wanted to take some time to reflect on what this school year has been like as my first official year of homeschooling.
And if you’re reading this and have a son who is between the ages of 4 and 7 who you are homeschooling or want to homeschool I hope that my experience resonates with you. Maybe our years looked very different, and that’s okay, we all want what’s best for our children and here is how my year looked homeschooling my very boisterous 5 year old boy.
1. Classical Conversations
We joined a Classical Conversations Community. After talking to friends in the program and visiting a community a couple of times I really fell in love with the classical model of education and the style of learning they use for the early years. If you don’t know what Classical Conversations is or what a Classical model of education is check out this quick blog post here.
Having that classroom setting for my son I felt benefited him. He got to enjoy some of the social aspects of learning alongside other children his age and also has another “teacher” figure (Properly known as Tutors) to supplement a lifestyle of learning. I loved the interactive style of class time singing the memory songs and having ample time for art and science (the hands on stuff is so great for developing minds!).
I have to be honest though and confess that I barely did anything CC related in between community days. Sometimes we would sing the songs in the car or I would pull up youtube videos, but it was very minimal. I did more in the beginning of the year and my motivation waned. I think this is mostly due to the nature of my life right now and a growing sense that more strict/formal education at this age still isn’t completely necessary.
2. Wait, Watch, Play
My boisterous boy is almost 6 and I have seen him mature in many ways since we started, but the best thing for him right now is to grow a love for learning (which I believe is happening), to play and be active, learn social skills and build character. I don’t feel like I have failed him by not having every memory phrase down to a T yet, he’s actually retained far more than I thought he would. He is my oldest and the only one I really “homeschooled” in a more formal sense this year. I have 2 younger kids and also offered full-time daycare in my home for another family with 2 children (toddler and preschool aged). So our home has been busy and full and active and very character building! Somedays the school stuff just had to take a lower priority and I am okay with that. I spent time waiting for his interest to pique, watching how he responds to school related things, and letting him play.
3. A Mixed Bag of Kindergarten Level Reading Stuff
He is not reading yet either, and I am also okay with that. I was blessed to receive a lot of great kindergarten phonics/reading/language curriculum for free thanks to a fellow homeschool mama who wanted to help. It was a little bit older but still totally usable and great. We did some pages here and there as inspiration hit. We worked through a letter workbook I got at the dollar spot at Target, too. It was not consistent but he did learn from what we did do. His birthday is late in the year so he is a young kindergartner. I have also heard from many others that language skills sometimes come later in boys, so my mantra for this year really was “don’t stress about it”. Many veteran homeschool moms have shared experiences with their own children who may have struggled with reading at first but then caught up a little later. It actually can be pretty normal for children to learn to read between age 4 and 10! So if it happens (which I think it will) before then I will be happy!
The next thing I focused on with my kindergartner was math! I used Math-U-See: Primer. The blocks have not only been helpful in learning math but also a fun thing for my 2 year old and 4 year old to play with (of course properly supervised because I need this set to last!). I asked my son last weekend what his favorite part about homeschooling was and he said Math! He is definitely wired for math I think and quite an analytical learner. So it seems numbers come pretty naturally to him. Still, the workbook has challenged him and he has learned new concepts. Seeing the light bulb click is so much fun. We are still working through our math book for the year and should be set to complete it by the end of May if we stay on track! But if we end up finishing it in the summer time that will be okay.
So there ya have it. That’s basically what I’ve done. The kids have also really grown in their imaginative play skills which I encourage and enjoy watching. We have done sensory bins, painting/coloring, crafting, a little handwriting here and there, and legos… lots and lots of Legos!
All in all I say it has been a successful soft start. I wasn’t very rigid with our schedule this year because 1) it was difficult for me to maintain a schedule -I am pretty relaxed and sometimes that’s a challenge for me- and 2) I still felt I needed to try out different things to see what worked best for me and my kids.
I am looking forward to a new school year where I get to see my daughter (who will be 5 in July) start her journey with being homeschooled alongside her older brother. I’ve ordered my curriculum and got what I needed to prepare and I anticipate we will be more scheduled and a little more complex as I juggle homeschooling more than 1, but also more fun.
For more about what I plan to use next year (it will be a little different as I add some new things) and how I am going to plan for fall please stay tuned for more posts and subscribe so we can share the journey! I love to hear feedback and advice from others and gain comradery from fellow homeschooling moms.