Today marks our official one-month anniversary of homeschooling. The morning bus stops in front of our house and I do not miss the stress of getting the kids out the door with their lunches packed, shoes tied, theme of the week outfits on, homework done, whatever permission slip/worksheet done that we forgot about the night before, or any other minor issue that tend to cause major meltdown under the time pressure of an approaching bus. I’m OK with this new pace. I wanted to get a few weeks under my belt before writing this post so that I could evaluate how homeschooling is working for us. I am very excited, and thankful, to say that it is going really well. Of course, there have been moments of frustration on everyone’s part but overall, it’s been a great experience. One of the kids said to me the other day, “I feel like I’m still on summer vacation.” That right there shows me that we are still able to learn and have fun, without having the end of the day burnout that used to happen after a full day at public school.
We have decided to homeschool year-round in order to make time for our travels and also enjoy some long weekends to relax or do spontaneous things. Our typical day starts around 9:00 in the morning and ends between 11-12:00. That may not seem like enough time to get everything covered, but surprisingly it is. For this first month of school, we have covered everything other than art, science, and history. Some of the curriculum touches on these topics while focusing on another subject, but nothing specific. My goal was to get settled into homeschooling and then add more to our days. In the first week or two, it took us the whole three hours to accomplish our daily agenda. I am noticing that we are working more efficiently as the kids settle into the curriculum and expectations. We now have more room in our days to begin to incorporate additional areas of study. My goal is not to make our day as short as it can be, rather make the day as productive as the kids can tolerate. I am currently researching which route I want to follow for science and history. Once I figure that out, I will write a post about it. Deep Space Sparkle is a great website I discovered that has some really neat at home art studies. I am planning on incorporating them into our schedule on a weekly basis.
An unintentional byproduct of teaching is that I am remembering things that I have forgotten over the years. With autocorrect, shorthand acronyms and emojis, it is easy to become complacent and lazy in regards to language arts and basic sentence structure. I am guilty of this and my fourth grader’s curriculum is compelling motivation to put in the effort and create a proper sentence. So, bear with me if you see typos, fragmented sentences or improper punctuation. I’m workin’ on it, lol. Our learning as a group goes beyond the classroom. Having an awareness of what Red and Fred are learning in school, allows my husband and I to find ways to integrate additional learning into their daily lives outside of the school room. Overall, the first-hand experience of seeing my children learn something new, and the sense of accomplishment they get once they understand it, is exceptionally rewarding.
We took our first “flying” trip while homeschooling in early September. Fred’s birthday is in September and this year instead of having a birthday party, our kids had the option to pick a travel destination. Fred chose to travel to Atlanta to visit the Delta Air Lines Museum and the Georgia Aquarium. We were able to make it to Atlanta and the museum on day one. Unfortunately, we had to cut our trip short due to Hurricane Irma’s predicted track. Everyone was escaping Florida and the open seats we travel on were quickly disappearing. We will make it back another time to check out the aquarium. On his actual birthday, we went to a local zoo. It was a fun day of looking at the animals, having a picnic and enjoying an afternoon at a park. I planned to make the trip to the zoo an official “field trip” day. We did a little prep work in school to make it a focused learning experience. The day before we went to the zoo, I had each of the kids pick two of the resident zoo animals that they would like to learn more about. Afterwards, I printed off a basic animal research worksheet for each animal and we spent the afternoon at the library. The next day as we drove to the zoo, the kids shared with the family what they learned. They really enjoyed learning new facts and then actually seeing the animals that they researched. It was also fun to have the kids be the experts at the zoo instead of the usual “know it all” mom or dad.
Our first month is in the books. In the beginning, the uncertainty of what lay ahead was worrisome, but looking back I am proud of this month and very excited for what the future holds. The research I have done has enabled me to develop a solid foundation to build upon. I feel this foundation has assisted in our first month going as smooth as it has. I know, it has only been one month, but I am optimistic.