Homeschooling: One Year Down! What’s Next??

 The three most common email questions that I get from my readers are…

1.  Can you give me advice on starting a blog?
2.  Can you help me with my curly hair?
3.  Can you give me advice on homeschooling or update us on how it’s going?

So, now that we have tackled one year of homeschooling, I figured it’s time to share with you how it went, what I learned, and what we’ll do differently.  I’ve promised this post to several of you for a while now!

Let me preface this post by saying, I’m not trying to convince you to homeschool.  I really don’t give a poo if you think I’m crazy or if it’s not right for you.  It’s right for me, right now…and these are my thoughts.  The end.

You know, it’s funny that I feel like I need to have a preface, such as that.  But, one of the most surprising things to me about homeschooling is that there have been a handful (only a handful, really) of people that act either/completely bewildered, disgusted, offended, or down-right mad when they find out I homeschool.  It’s bizarre.  But, they can go on being bizarre, I got stuff to do.

When I first began homeschooling, I would say, “Well, if my kids want to go back to public school at any time, they can.”  It seemed to appease any nay-sayers, and I actually believed myself.  Okay, THAT thinking has completely changed.  Now that I have completed this year and seen how much my children (and I) have got out of it, there’s no way I could let them go back.  We love it!  Will I homeschool them all the way through high school (common question)?  I don’t know.  We’re playing it by ear and will cross that bridge when we get to it.


In one of my first homeschool posts, I shared with you what I thought I would do throughout the year.  Well, what I thought and what I actually was able to do…two different things.  
I learned that the kids learn the most when we have more time to focus on just a few subjects.  Instead of jumping from subject to subject every day.  We might spend an entire day working on one “heavy” lesson.  For example, for history we studied Ancient Greece (among other places), so we read about it, watched a movie about it, wrote about it, and read some more.  To jump from that immersion right into a Science lesson on gravity, didn’t feel right.  I wanted their little brains to process more.  So, we would do one heavy lesson at a time and sprinkle the rest of the day with handwriting, reading, math, spelling, etc.  The next day, we might just talk about gravity…do a science project, and so on.  I adjusted to that new method pretty quickly.  Not only did it ease stress, but I was spending more time developing a passion in the kids for the daily subject. 

Just one of the 8 baskets of laundry in my room…

To add to that thought, I learned that some subjects would just have to wait until summer school.  Yes, we’re still doing school!  (I really loved that we got into the habit of a daily scripture study, the kids reading their novels, and just some sit-down time together…I didn’t want to pull the plug and lose everything because it’s summer.)  We decided that summer school will be 3 to 4 days a week, with Monday being “cleaning day.”  The other days, we still do our scripture study, reading, journals, chores and then either art, Spanish, or nature studies…depending on what works best for the day.  Flexibility is so important to your sanity!  If someone’s sick, mom is grumpy, or we have an activity planned…school is canceled.  But, overall we are trying to stick to our flexible routine.  Those subjects are all fun and have been highly requested by my kids.  Summer is a great time to focus on them.



A typical homeschool day, during the school year came to be (‘used to be’ post), as follows:

8:00 – Get up, feed the baby
8:30 – 9:30 – exercise
9:30 – eat breakfast, check email
10:00 – gather the kids on the couch for scripture study and journals (journals we did M,W, and F)
10:30 – feed the kids
11:00 – the kids start “reading time” and do their writing (handwriting books, letters, copy work, etc)
12:00 – break (the kids play outside while I clean up inside)
1:00 – kids work on any math or language arts assignments (I make lunch.  While eating lunch, I usually turn on a documentary for them.)
2:00 – we focus on our history or science lessons (We do these together, not based on grade..the boys are only 2 years apart.)
3:00 – everyone does their chores and they’re done.  They’re usually off with the neighborhood kids in no time.  No tv/games are allowed until after 4:00, if everything is complete.

So, that’s just super typical.  I don’t necessarily stick to the clock and I can adjust whenever needed.

We love to go to have picnics in the park!

This past year, I have seen my children grow closer to each other.  I have seen them develop passions for very specific topics and crave learning more.  I have loved having a designated time to teach them about being good human beings and loving their God.  I love having more time together.  I have loved the more relaxed atmosphere around the home.  I love knowing exactly what they are learning, and love learning right along with them!

Is it all peaches and cream?  Do I ever feel like I’m losing my mind?  Sure.  Do my kids and I ever butt heads?  Of course.  But, I’m doing this for my family, I can see the benefits and it feels right, right now.

So, let’s talk about curriculum.  I shared with you, previously, that I was doing the K12 online public school program, mingled with a couple subjects that I did on my own.  There were parts of k12 that I liked, but after a few months, I was wishing I did every subject on my own.  There are so much amazing homeschool curricula available and depending on your child’s learning style, you can find something that fits perfectly.  k12 is a lot of worksheets, checking in online, and I found it to be pretty slow-paced…especially in the “improving reading skills” area.  Lots of people like the style of it, but I decided it’s not for me.  I did lots of research and have decided to try the Sonlight program for next year.

It gets amazing reviews and fits perfectly with how my children learn best.  The programs biggest focus is on reading and multi-tasking by reading lots and lots of history/geography novels that teach and develop a passion for history…while sub-conscientiously improving reading skills, spelling skills, grammar, etc.  They also have a great program for Language Arts and Science.  We just got our huge box full of books and the kids can’t wait until fall school starts to get on with them.

So, we’ll be using Sonlight for history, science, and language arts.  I’ll keep using Math-U-See (for math) and Handwriting Without Tears (for handwriting :)).  If I had to choose something else besides Sonlight for history and science (something cheaper), I also really like The Story of the World for history and Apologia for science.

Anyway, I hope I answered lots of your questions!  Feel free to ask if you have more.  I’m obviously no expert…haven’t been doing this very long, but I’m happy to tell you what I can.

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Mariel

Mariel

Owner & Author at Or so she says...
Mariel (mahr-eeee-elle) is a mother to six, wife to one. Loves homeschooling, golfing, cupcakes, traveling, cuddling, non-fiction books, gardening, James Taylor, and family time. This is her blog. Enjoy!
Mariel
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Comments

  1. As you know, we just finished our first year of homeschooling, too. I started with Dawson (8th grade) and within 6 weeks of school starting we brought home Brynne (1st grade). I have also decided that the kids won’t be going back to public school, and I plan to homeschool through high school. The greatest thing for me has definitely been the relationships that have been built between the kids and between me and the kids. I’ve never felt closer to them. I have also found that when it comes to history and literature, I prefer to build our curriculum so we can really chew on it.

    Homeschooling is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. The problem is … this teacher can’t seem to stop teaching! It’s become who I am.

    Have a great day!!!

    Nicole

  2. Natalie Kimble says:

    I think homeschooling is so fantastic.  I’m impressed that you take the time and energy it takes to do it.  For those looking for high school options, I wanted to share that my son, who is 15 loves http://www.openhighschool.org/  It has been so great for him – the teachers have been amazing to work with, and he has had much more success there!

  3. Dana Cockrum says:

    Thanks for sharing about your 1st year of homeschooling!  Sounds like it’s been great for your family :)

  4. Mariel, I’m so impressed with what you’re doing with your family.  I have two little ones, and I teach Spanish in a public high school.  My class blog is by no means any sort of curriculum, but I post cool things I find a lot.  (I saw that you’re doing Spanish so it might be helpful?)  http://jaemaree.wordpress.com/

    • orsoshesays says:

      Thanks for the link!  I’ll look over it, for sure!  I fact, I’m going to share it with my brother who also teaches Spanish in high school.

  5. Another thing: if you consider homeschooling as the kids get older, there is a neat resource called Khan Academy that is so impressive.  It’s mainly a science and math resource, but it always seems to be branching out.  http://www.khanacademy.org/

  6. Danikagunn says:

    I love that you added the laundry and dishes photos:)  I am still debating whether or not to homeschool next year.  I think the program you chose looks great.  But the k12 price tag fits our unemployed pocket book a little better.  I loved homeschooling.  If I homeschool next year maybe you could come down here to southern Utah for some field trips with us.

    • orsoshesays says:

      Yea, the k12 really wasn’t bad.  I really liked the history program.  It follows the Story of the World curriculum, just not as in depth.  I forgot to put in the post that I’m still going to use Math-U-See and Handwriting Without Tears.  With Sonlight, I’m doing history, science and language arts.  I’ve actually heard of people just getting the Sonlight list of books and then finding them all at the library (if you have the time).  They pick great books for your kids to read.

      I would love to come have a little Southern Utah field trip!  That would be so fun!

  7. Sonlight was one that I looked at too.  Let me know how you like it – it’s a good blend of the different philosophies that appeal to us and that fit our kids.  I’ve pieced together our curriculum for the next year and am excited about it.  Thanks for blogging about this.

  8. I wish I was able to homeschool! Just not in the cards for me right now. I am also so jealous that you are just feeding breakfast to your kids at 10:30! My kids are begging for lunch by then! :)

    • orsoshesays says:

      Yea, it’s funny…my kids never eat early.  All they ever want is their chocolate milk.  It’s a morning ritual. :)

  9. You are amazing! My kids are in school but I love the inspiration I get to supplement from homeschooling moms.  Just downloaded a book on “Unschooling Rules” about the way kids learn and remember and how school goes against that….I heard an interview with the author and it was amazing.  Thanks for your inspiration!!!

    • orsoshesays says:

      I think it’s great that you are taking an active role in your kids education, good for you!  It is fun to browse around and find some fun ideas and great insights from other moms.  Thanks for the comment :)

  10. Brittney says:

    I love the preface….. good for you!!!!

  11. Thanks for posting this — my oldest is 2 years out from kindergarten and I’m researching now what I want to do for schooling — my biggest fear about homeschooling right now is that I won’t be able to balance her education with the little ones.  I’d love to see a post on how you balance your little ones into the equation!

    • orsoshesays says:

      Kristy, I haven’t found that to be too tricky.  Although, I did worry about before I started.  My two younger girls mostly just run around and play, that’s what they want to do.  There are plenty of opportunities for me to break away from the boys for a few and attend to the girls.  They eat when the boys eat, go outside and play with the boys when they are taking a break.  Sometimes when the boys are working at the table, the girls will color in their coloring books or draw right next to them.  I bought a few things, such as easy craft projects and educational dvds, for the girls to work on sometimes.  But, mostly…they just want to play.  They’re livin’ it up before they have to be stuck in school :) 

  12. Jane Mcmullian26 says:

    Sounds like you have found the system that works for you and your kids. Fabulous! It’s been a long time since I was a homeschool mom…but I taught all three sons for many years. Did it work? Absolutely! They are all grown…two married…and they are well-rounded men. One has his own IT business (music industry), which is thriving. Another is buying the business for which he’s been working. The third has only 2 semesters left until he graduates from college. Homeschooling gave my boys a sense of discipline and ownership of their destiny…and an excellently well-rounded education! 

  13. Thank you for sharing. I’m homeschooling for the first time this year and using Sonlight. I appreciate your insights/ reflections on your first year.

  14. Camille Duckworth says:

    I haven’t looked at your blog in a long time. I’m glad to have found this post. I think Iw as one of those buggin you to update how it was going!  This is also our second year….well I guess now it’s been two fulls years since I pulled maliyah out.  The first year and 1/2 was GREAT!  The last Semester was really hard. I think with the new baby and not enough organization….it wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I still loved having the kids home, but knew they weren’t learning what they needed to and I was alwasy stressing about it!  After New Years I spent 2 weeks revamping our school room and our school. Reorganizing EVERYTHING we were doing.  It’s what I shoul dhave done last Summer, but couldn’t bring myself to spending my summer time working on school!  All I can say, is the last month has been awesome!  Our days go so smoothly and the kids have become so much more independent, letting me spend more time with the littles and getting more done around the house.  I’m still learning what will work best for us, and still need to implement more, but for 1st and 2nd graders I think we are doing okay.  Now that they can read though, it’s getting MUCH easeir.  It certainly has encouraged me to start teaching my preschooler to read!  I appreciate all your homeschool posts, favorites and information.  I”m thinking I might have to get an ipad or kindle now!  Keep sharing what you are doing! If you ever want to see what we have been up to you can look at my blog.  http://www.theoregonducks.blogspot.com  I tag all my homeschool posts

  15. Hi there… I just stumbled upon your blog and am so inspired! I homeschooled my daughter (using Sonlight) for 4 years and and she has just spent a year in “normal” school. We have seen such a decline in her abilities that we are taking her back to homeschool next term. I have been anxious about it but reading your posts reminds me how great it was and I’m feeling a renewed energy! Especially seeing as you have a baby too!

    • orsoshesays says:

      Aw, thanks for the comment! It’s funny because I used to say that ‘my kids could go back to public school whenever they wanted.’ You know, to appease the naysayers (I was new to homeschooling and hadn’t developed a strong opinion of my own yet.) But, it didn’t take long homeschooling before I realized that my kids were learning TONS. Literally TONS more than I realized possible…and in less time AND a more enjoyable way. We’ve grown closer as a family, I’ve been learning tons. There have been so many benefits that NOW, I wouldn’t feel right sending my kid back to public school…at least not full time. I would feel like they were missing out on too much. I love it. Love it. Stick around! In the coming month, I’ll probably do my annual homeschool update (what I’m doing, what I’m changing, etc.) Any suggestions you have, as well, I’m all ears.

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