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Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Race Well Finished

Last Friday we ended our first year of homeschooling. It was the most challenging year of parenting, as I embarked on the adventure of staying home almost full time while balancing an infant, 3 year old, and a 6 year old with a mind of her own. I've never felt like I was a pro at this. I always feel I have to work at it, but my husband constantly reminds me that even when I don't feel adequate, the fact that I acknowledge my weakness and strive to be better is the simple love kids need to thrive.
A quick recap of our year. We started a little later than the public schools as I waited for our materials to arrive. I struggled with whether or not to start Kaylie as a kindergartner (which she would be in the public school system) or to skip up to first grade. The curriculum I chose seemed a little too basic on the kindergarten level. I knew it might be a little too easy, and I didn't want her to be bored half way through the year. We had already started working on some writing, and blending basic consonant-vowel sounds, so I knew she was past reading the usual cat, dog, etc. I continually questioned myself throughout the year, not that she did not do well, but I either worried I was pushing her too hard, or she might not quite be ready for second grade. In those moments I had to take a step back and remind myself why we homeschool. Learning is not a sprint or competition. Each child develops at their own pace. Obviously there are certain markers we use to help realize when certain areas need some improvement, but overall the joy of learning should be what compels us up the ladder.
By the end of this year Kaylie is reading fairly well. I have had her writing several creative stories as well as her first short report on our trip to Belgium. She excelled very well in math. By the end of the year she had started doing two and three digit addition and subtraction. There are still some areas we will continue to brush up on. Telling time has been a bit of a struggle. I believe this is actually due to the fact that she does not go to a brick and mortar school and is not on a rigid schedule. I realized that the best way to remedy this was not simply with worksheets, but keeping a loose schedule throughout the day and writing down the time of days that we do things. This gives her a better sense of what time is as opposed to just reading the clock.
The program we used this year had a lot of fun science experiments. We fed ants, made a water wheel, sprouted and grew bean plants, studied trees and flowers. She really enjoyed this part of school. I am hoping next year we can do even more as Micah will be a little older and more willing to participate.
Kaylie learned a lot about the Bible this year. Her reading lessons took her through an abridged children's version of the old and new testament. It really opened the door for her and I to have a lot of conversations about life in the real world. I know many people feel that homeschooling in a biblical environment causes children to be in a bubble. On the contrary I always strive to be honest with Kaylie in a way she will understand. We do not live in a perfect world, and I know she has seen this first hand. Being together has let us talk about these things, and how God sees things. I love the compassionate heart I see developing her as a result of this.
The most important lessons we learned this year were the ones on patience and forgiveness. I have struggled trying to figure everything out, and have not always been the best teacher, but I have learned to go to Kaylie when I know I have lost my patience and ask for her forgiveness. In turn she has done the same with me. It's not perfect but that is life. Learning to grow and live with one another are some of the most important life lessons.
I am excited for summer and some relaxation. We will continue reading and some writing, but it will be informal and relaxed just to keep us sharp. I plan on using My Father's Worth again next year while supplementing Singapore math, some spelling and Language arts, and probably a foreign language through rosetta stone. My hope is that next year we will continue to develop in our methods. I am also hoping to start my own homeschool connection group. If you homeschool and live in the DFW area and  are looking to connect please contact me.
That pretty much sums it up for the year. It was a bit long, but that's what happens when I take forever to blog.
Any questions or comments on homeschooling? Please leave a comment.