Friday, June 5, 2015

Things I learned my first year of homeschooling

Now that school is finally over for our family, I can relax. Our first year is done. The kids actually were not that excited about summer break. They enjoyed the structure of a school day and now summer presents for them hours of boredom especially since I won't allow them to fill the schooling hours with Xbox. This break is actually going to be more for mom than them. I need a little time where my 'to do list' doesn't involve several hours doing school. I also need the time to work on some areas of training and establishing habits that need to occur with a couple of children before adding school hours back in.

The following are four things that I learned during my first year of homeschooling.

1. Set goals. Last year the only goal I had was to survive and I accomplished that goal! During the year, I realized how much easier things would have been if I would have set goals at the beginning. I found myself halfway through the year and going over records and realizing that we weren't going to have enough school days to meet state requirements. I was taking too much time off in the beginning because I had not set calendar benchmarks to let me know where I needed to be during the year. I really wish I would have known how many sick/vacation days I could take without getting behind and I should have been tracking where we needed to be by Christmas time in our curriculum. This year I printed out a July 15' - May 16' calendar and sat down and counted how many days I needed to fulfill my school requirements and how many weeks that turned out to be in lesson plans. This will give me the freedom to take extra weeks at Christmas or any other time.
2. Set aside a time each week to get caught up on your teacher stuff. I figured this tip out early on but had a really hard time sticking to it and a couple of times I found myself with 2 or 3 weeks worth of grading to do. In the end this is a detriment to the students because I found mistakes and I found things that my son wouldn't have gotten wrong on a test had I gone over with him what he had been getting wrong in his work. It was also really difficult to try and go back and record days for attendance when they were already weeks passed and I couldn't remember what we had done on that day. It really would have helped me out a lot if I had set aside Friday nights or Sunday nights to write down all of our attendance records and field trips from the previous week.
3. It's okay to say 'no' during the school year. I very quickly found out that even though homeschooling allows me to be flexible and allows a family to do things that other school age kids cannot do, it's also incredibly easy to overbook yourself. Yes, it may just be one play date a week but then you have to add in the extras such as: grocery shopping, doctors visits, errands around town, and then next thing you know you're spending more time out of the house than you are on school related events. The hardest thing but often the most necessary is sometimes telling a person "No, I'm sorry. We do school during that time or on those days. We will have to take a rain check for another time."
4. Give your husband grace. Whether it is parenting, homeschooling, or about our marriage, women tend to research and over-inform themselves. We are full of new facts and new things to implement in her family and hubby can oftentimes get blindsided by his wife's ambition. Case in point: this upcoming year we will be switching to a curriculum that very rarely accumulates grades and scoring. Our curriculum from last year calculated grades continually with daily quizzes and seat work. My husband and I, both coming from a public/Christian school background assumed that this was necessary for records. After much research and much discussion with other homeschooling moms, I became more comfortable with focusing on how my children are learning and what they retaining rather than what their grade book looked like at the end of year. I could see evidence in our own family of where it was very easy to pass the quizzes without any actual learning occurring. On the other hand, when I suggested this to my husband he was blown away that I would even consider doing school without keeping grades. That's just not how it was done. We eventually came to an agreement where I would grade the kids occasionally for the sake of records but not as much as they had been last year. Ladies, just remember that even though your husband may fully support homeschooling, he does not live it, breathe it, and dream about it like we do. Often the only time it's on his mind is when we bring it up.

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