Some of you may have started homeschooling this year and others are knocking on 20 years. Everyone whether new or seasoned will have things they want to change and things they will do different the following year. I wanted to share my highlights and dislikes of our first year homeschooling so if you are just starting out like me, you can maybe follow in my footsteps 🙂
*EVERYONES SCHOOL WILL LOOK DIFFERENT. If it works for you and you family it’s NOT wrong. Own it, it’s what makes your journey unique.
Highlights of our first year HOmeschooling
The main topic I want to discuss truly deserves the top runner position and I give the credit for such a smooth first homeschool year….ROUTINE.. Yes I know that ugly two syllable word that possibly just made you cringe. Well I think I should give credit where it is due and include it as a highlight for our first year homeschooling.
So, I just had our third baby the March prior to starting school in August. We were in the midst of the epidemic and we just moved out of a 2100 square foot house, into a 400 sqft fifth-wheel camper. I know what you might be thinking….. But I can promise you, having a solid routine made everything work out okay for us! It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, starting the day the same way we always did was what kept us going.
What did we do?
We got up, drank coffee, ate breakfast, bathed/showered, played outside and began our day. EVERYDAY. Rain or shine. There were somedays I was only managing to get to the play outside part and my day stopped there. But because we had our morning routine and foundation, we all kept it together. Thank you homeschooling. And that brings me to my next highlight of our first year homeschooling.
Morning Time Baskets! Yes, we love our morning time baskets because it is so easy to implement into our day. Life does happen and there are mornings we don’t get to our baskets. That’s okay, we stay calm and homeschool on. We use the A Gentle Feast curriculum and as a part of the curriculum Morning Time plans. I might even bump this to the top of my Highlights of our first year homeschooling. It is a a way to add beauty to our day in two parts: Bible Time and Beauty Loop.
Bible Time is just that, we gather for devotions, prayers and spiritual readings. Beauty Loop consists of 5 loop topics.
- PICTURE OF COMPOSER STUDY
- POETRY RECITATION
- POET STUDY
- FABLES/ HERO TALES/ BIOGRAPHIES
Lord willing we will be using Morning Time Baskets for years to come.
Highlights for siblings during our first year homeschooling
I have (3 at the beginning) 4 year old little boy that is full of life and a sweet baby girl. We had to learn to incorporate everyone into our day. I was amazed how much my 3/4 year old picked up just learning in our “one room school house” he was learning things I never intending on teaching him. Pure amazement.
I gave my son his own “art basket’ which contains age appropriate hands on activities that he could do on his own while I taught or read. These things were, play dough, dot markers, coloring books, doodle pads, water colors, orbies, bubbles, markers, kinetic sand, marbles, and little tinker toys. Of course most days I was taking away markers, but he quickly learned what was okay and what wasn’t. And of course snacks, if you’ve been reading along for any length of time snacks are almost always a topic in my blog posts. But at certain times! Not free for all pantry access. More on that later…
Highlights of our first year homeschooling curriculums
We ended up using four curriculums this year. Not all at the same time.
A Gentle Feast is a RICH literature based curriculum. I enjoyed every book we read and even now my daughter talks about things we have read as facts and with ease in narration *Narration is the art of “telling back” in a Charlotte Mason based education. Always amazed by the magic of narration.
Masterbooks is God’s gift to busy homeschool mamas. There was a moment in our school year that we were traveling a lot and I couldn’t keep up with the required books we needed in our AGF curriculum. (This would of been avoidable if I purchased the books in the beginning versus trying to buy when I needed) I decided to give Masterbooks a try. (Homeschool benefit #8237598346593) And it was so simple to use, to teach and for my daughter to learn. It did it’s job well and kept my daughters attention and kept her learning while times were crazy. IYKYK. Masterbooks is a highlight of our first year homeschooling. We will be using various books next year without a doubt. I like the simplicity of the lessons, so I was able to add in the extra stuff when I had time to be extra.
The Good and the Beautiful. Is exactly that, it is a very beautiful and well written curriculum. The resources are plentiful and the quality is good. We only used TGATB for math, art, typing and I was able to snag a Nordic Christmas box before they sold out 😉
Missing opportunities our First year homeschooling
Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful first year homeschooling. But there are definitely things I will do different for years to come.
I will look ahead in the books and plan out extras. Whether its extra activities that coordinate with what we are learning. Or making sure I print out my awesome homeschool printables, simply just spending more time reviewing what our year will look like. I took the phrase “Open and Go” and ran with it. Yes, these curriculums are open and go but I would of liked a heads up on certain things.
For example, when we were reading through “Meet The North American Indians” by Elizabeth Payne (excellent book, btw) I REALLY wanted to do an Indian diorama on the tribe of my daughters choice. But because I didn’t plan even a little in advanced, we had NO supplies. I’m not saying I needed to spend a fortune, I just realized my crafting stock was subpar. We ended up missing the opportunity. Did she still learn. OF COURSE. I would just like to be a little more “extra” and prepared for such things next year.
What we disliked about our first year homeschooling
I think all of the curriculums we used were absolutely amazing. Each one was unique and brought wonder and beauty to our table. I know there will be something no matter what we use that I could take it or leave. Here are some of those things:
We were a traveling family last year. So having to hunt down books to go along with our nature studies, history topics, or anything extra we wanted to use, wasn’t always simple. I dream of owning a home one day that has a library or at least a room that has wall to wall bookshelves. But right now, we live in a camper and keeping all the wonderful books around is hard.
My children learned so much just by being outside so much, so no complaints there. Next year I will invest into more ebooks or online reading services and prepare for books needed in advance.
social interaction our first year homeschooling
I know there is a stigma that homeschool children do not get enough social interactions. I’m going to strongly disagree. We don’t live under a rock and even with the pandemic going on my children still managed to find interactions no matter where we went.
Even though we were stationary, I had a very hard time finding other homeschool families to interact with. It seemed like the groups were over an hour away, or peoples plans changed, or the groups weren’t active. This is one thing I disliked about our first year homeschooling. It was very hard to find a tribe of other homeschool families. Even diligently searching. I pray that one day the Lord blesses us with a tribe.
Why four curriculums?
Exploring Nature with Children as the exception, I wanted to test out other curriculms that I have read about and looked into. We have to see what works for our children and the best way to do that is to try them. I have no regrets because each one is unique and special in its own way. But the flip flopping was confusing and I feel like we didn’t get to reap the benefits of what all they had to offer.
Math is a different animal. Math was a tough one to get through because my daughter struggles. The style of learning that The Good and The Beautiful offers just wasn’t clicking with my daughter. Not saying that anything is wrong, she just needs something slower and more repetitive. Highly recommend TGATB Math for others though. Beautiful curriculum. We used TGATB for electives and extra such as handwriting and it was perfect for us.
What we look forward to in our next year homeschooling
I look forward to creating a blend of curriculums that work for us (with the exception fo Exploring Nature with Children- we will continue to use that as our nature study) and using it for the entire year. I want to see the benefits of what an entire year will look like now that I got the first year under my belt. I have more realistic expectations as a mother of three little ones and I think I know what style of learning my children enjoy the most. Keyword-THINK.