We’ve started our second year of homeschooling the girls as well as Oliver’s first year at home! I’m so proud of them and their hard work, and I’m feeling the wave of relief, peace, and joy that comes with having routine and freedom go hand-in-hand at home this year! I will say that I am so grateful that both of my girls experienced public school for kindergarten-2nd (Ella) and kindergarten (Lucy) because it gave them and I a foundation in our own independent, unique design before we teamed up together to learn. Oliver gets the gift of being at home from the start (though he did do three years of preschool), and I know that it is working well with His God-given heart to create, tinker, and explore. It’s nice that I’ve had a year to get my feet wet with two girls so that as Oliver has joined the mix, we have had our ship ready to sail!
I thought I’d write a few of our successes and tips for the year in case any of you are considering heading down this road, or are possibly starting out this year for your first year at home! I am always learning what works and what doesn’t, but this is our current fit!
- We’ve love steady curriculum with ebb and flow. It’s worked well for us, and it keeps us organized for basic skills like reading and math. Abeka has helped us streamline our math and reading skills individually for age appropriate resources, which has been good for my brain (as the teacher) and also seems to be good for my kids to stay on track! It’s also been fun to add in colorful electives this year with weather and history done in the “family style” classroom, where all the kids are learning the same lessons, so that we can add in fun field trips and extracurriculars. There are so many options, and I’m grateful that Tennessee allows you to change throughout the year if your curriculum isn’t jiving with you!
- Snacks during school are the best! We start in the morning, and we need a snack after about an hour into our work. If there is no snack, we usually end up in the grumpy zone! If I want to avoid an unnecessary butting of heads, tears, or zoning out during work, a snack seems to be the trick! It’s been so nice to give my kids fresh fruit during this time. They never wanted chopped apples at school because they’d turn brown, or their grapes weren’t crisp/cold, or their bananas got smashed, etc. It’s a simple thing, but seemingly profound in our house. Fresh fruit at home tastes better!
- Play time refreshes the brain! I give the kids at least an hour before school to ride their bikes, take a walk, listen to the birds, use an app on their tablet, or color with sidewalk chalk. They learn so much better when they’ve had a little time to play.
- Less is more! I’ve noticed that I can accomplish a TON in one hour with each child, and that’s way more than what happens in 4-6 hours at school because it’s one-on-one, there are no distractions, and we’re doing it together. But after one solid hour, it’s time for a break. I don’t want to be a task-master but instead a joyful teacher. Somedays it can be a challenge because there’s a lot to manage, but remembering that less is more gives my kids quality over quantity. Write one sentence well or write fifteen sentences sloppy. I’ll choose the one good sentence, and tomorrow we can add on two good sentences!
- School time is school time. I try not to plan any play dates during school hours unless it’s a special occasion. It helps my kids experience a routine (because that works for them), and when we do have an afternoon play date, it feels like a BIG DEAL! They experience it as a special treat, and it’s fun to have the freedom to do that.
- Everything is school, which is wonderful! My kids are learning how to make their beds, get ready on their own, load the dishwasher, budget, sort laundry, wash their fruits and veggies, etc. as part of daily life. It’s not perfect, and our house is not always tidy, but it is working! We are continually minimizing more and more, and so they enjoy participating in a ten-minute clean up–because it feels super productive!
- My kids are more kind to one another now that they are all at home, and I am more rested (which means I am also more graceful). A schedule full of tons of things doesn’t work for us. Being away from one another for hours on end doesn’t really work for us either (we’ve found that out!). We all learn much better together, supporting one another in our own giftings and skills while also learning how to deal with conflict, forgiveness, boundaries, and manners.
- I never regret where I spend my time. I love community, and I love working hard; both are fun for me! I could have easily gone back to work full time in some regard after my kids were all in school, but being at home with them has been so much better than having my mind run in two directions constantly. My family is my greatest inspiration, so any freelance work I pick up easily comes alongside what I’m learning with them instead of it competing with them. I LOVE that so much! What a gift from God.
- And there you have it! Working smarter within a smaller boundary instead of harder in a wide venue has been so valuable, and it will continue to be as my kids grow, and as we all continue to learn individually and as a team.
- If you’re considering homeschooling, I think you’ll love it! It takes time to gear up but once you’re in a rhythm that fits you, it’s really beautiful!
Happy School Year to you!