Wow! It sure has been a long time since a last post, but life has definitely not been quiet. It has been a busy few months--full of school and family and drama and parenting.
But today is a milestone. Today will be J's last day of school for Kindergarten. I can't believe we did it! We have successfully completed our first year of homeschooling. And no one killed anyone! And we still really like each other! Amazing! (not really, but some might think so!)
So as one should whenever ending a major task and looking forward to a new one, I have been doing some reflecting--on what worked, what didn't, what was good, and what was not so good. And because I am a writer, I am writing it down to share with you.
First let me share with you some of our highlights:
This year we followed the drinking gourd (and learned there are certain ways not to treat people), we made our own homemade napkins (including dying, hemming, and decorating). We spent a week in Florida learning about the beach! J learned to read (and is a voracious reader) and K is not too far behind. We have marvelled at how the ant does his work (without anyone telling him how or when to do it) and watched the seasons change from winter into spring. We celebrated four out of five birthdays (the last one is in a week) and lost a first tooth.
Also, as a mom, I have learned when I have had enough, how to ensure I get time for myself, and learned to define what is restful for me (as clarification, going to the grocery store without kids is not restful!).
1) Homeschooling was and is really hard work. But it wasn't ever the teaching that was tough. It was using so much energy to focus on school yet still having to done mundane things like wash the dishes and fold the laundry. It was wanting to shut down from the kids after we were done with school so I could have a little break.
2) I am not an organizational goddess. Not even close. Part of the big challenge of this year was learning where and how to keep stuff. Lots of stuff--from books to teaching tools & manipulatives to many, many "art" projects. In January, I had an organizational meltdown and invested in some shelves that have helped tremendously. But in this coming year, we are adding a new Kindergartner (K) so that means more books, more paper, more things to do. I think some more organization will be needed in the next few months.
3)In many ways, school this year was more about character refinement than academic skills. There was learning to communicate and obey, learning how to appropriately express anger and disgust, how to walk away from a troublesome situation. And so as I look towards the summer and next fall the question I am asking myself is "What do we need to work on? How can we each be better reflections of Christ to our world? How can my young children impact this place?"
4) I loved Five in a row for its access to great books, but I have a sponge for a student who came to abhor reading a story for five days in a row. That has played a big part in choosing next year's curriculum. I am really looking forward to learning about the ancient world with my kids next year: Egypt, Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, biblical history! Yipee! It makes me all goose-bumpily just thinking about it.
5) I have come to accept that I am a creative person. I love to write, brainstorm, diverge, and create. However, when it comes to schooling, I do so much better if I have a plan in front of me--a comprehensive guide of what books to read and how to cover a topic--then I can diverge. But I need a goal. This realization alone has been incredibly instructive in this past year.
6) Most importantly, I have loved this year. I have loved learning and exploring with my kids. I have loved spending time with them and watching them become excited about this world that God has created for us. Our adventures to the Calvin Nature Preserve, Meijer Gardens, and other places are great times for their curiosity and questions to come out. We have learned so much. About everything. About what it means to be a family, about what things are important to us, about learning to communicate clearly with one another, about how to work together. It has been a wonderful year.
I can't wait for next fall!