Monday, May 29, 2017

That's a Wrap--Homeschooling Year 1

Of course I get asked a lot how our first year of homeschooling went.  And I always say that it went really well!  Honestly, it was pretty easy and uneventful.  But I do know that this will probably be the easiest year we ever have.  So I'm not expecting every year to be such a piece of cake.

It was easy for a couple of different reasons.  First, I have a teaching degree and am use to using teacher manuals, planning, adding and eliminating as needed.  I see in a lot of homeschool groups that those type of things sometimes throw people off at first.  Also, since I did teach for 6 years, I know that some things are just not that serious.  People are always worried that they are not doing enough and want to add 8,000 things to their kids day.  It's not that serious.  It will get learned. It doesn't all have to happen when they are 5.

Of course my student made it pretty easy as well.  She already had a good starting base.  My main goal for this year was to introduce homeschooling to her and to make it fun and enjoyable.  I also wanted her to have a very strong foundation of phonics/reading. Plus, she just loves learning.  She always has.  So it was never a struggle for us. 

The other thing that made it easy was that for the first 2/3 of the year, we did our school time while Logan was napping.  It did make it more difficult after he gave up naps, but we eventually got in a groove with that as well.

We actually doubled up some lessons and worked at a quick speed, and we finished with Kindergarten in March.

We finished around the time everyone was taking spring break.  So we took a spring break, did a few supplemental things for a few weeks, and then just started in with First grade.

 Our curriculum has you make these little badges for each week to reinforce the theme.  You can do this any way you want.  We chose to make this apron with it, which will be a fun keepsake.

We also made the caterpillar across the top of our learning space.

Olivia started the year just being able to sound out (slowly) cvc words--like cat, dog, big.  She ended the year reading beginner chapter books.  She just picked it up really quickly and ran with it.  Since it was fun and interesting for her, she was always tackling harder words and sounding things out and challenging herself.  She also has great comprehension too, which is equally as important.

I also think there were a few things we did that helped her.  First, the curriculum encouraged a book basket.  We got 20 to 30 books on our theme each week.  I read aloud to her a variety of books for about 30 minutes a day.  We also listened to books on CD in the car every chance we got.  So not only was she hearing me, but she was hearing actors and professionals read with their inflections and enthusiasm.  We've read all sorts of classics like The Boxcar Children, Pippi Longstocking, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, The Littles, Runaway Ralph, and so many more.  Some of those were written in the 20's and 30's!  Hearing those stories with such rich vocabulary can only help her reading!

(One of the components of a Charlotte Mason education is to use living books and not to read "twaddle".  We read all types of books, but most that were recommended by our curriculum were also of high quality.)

That's why I went ahead and just started first grade with her.  Because she was so interested in all of the phonics rules that she kept asking why a word was read the way it was.  Our kindergarten curriculum only taught short vowels, so I would just have to explain things to her outside of what the curriculum was teaching.  I figured we might as well just get started instead of taking months off and losing momentum.

She wrote that little Welcome to First Grade sign herself.  We will have an official first day of school in July when I will take official pictures.

She heard me telling my mom that she was interested in other phonics rules like silent e.  She went to the board and drew this and said, "Like this for example". :)

They actually play school quite often.  Logan doesn't know his alphabet yet, but Olivia is trying hard to teach him.  :)

Michael and Olivia even did something for me for Teacher Appreciation Week.  I got something different each day, and Olivia was so excited to give me each thing.  It's always fun to be thought of and appreciated.

Olivia also enjoyed being part of her homeschool art class.  We did that, as well as MOPS every Wednesday, and swimming lessons once a week.  It was good first year for us.

We are going to take June and half of July off, and then get back to it.  I like that I can make my own schedule. Technically we will probably do somewhat of a year round schedule.  It's not quite as set in stone now, because it's just Olivia and we only do a few hours a day.  We can be flexible and still get it all in. But eventually when I have both of them we will have a more set in stone plan.  There are so many different options (like a sabbath schedule, year round, traditional schedule, three weeks then a gap week, etc).  One thing I've already decided is that we will be taking the month of December off.  It's just too busy and stressful.  So by starting in summer, we can take off time later when we need to or want to.

I'll probably write more again when we start up in July.  But that's the recap.  It was good and we are continuing on again next year! We both really enjoyed the curriculum.

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