Wednesday, February 12

on homeschooling :: 6 months.

Well, we've done it!
We hit our 6 month anniversary of homeschooling on February 6th.
In some ways it feels like this last half year has flown by, but then it also feels like we've been on this little journey for a long, long time.
But such is the way of life, right?

Bear with me through this post.
I might be a bit long winded. ;)

Even though we've had a few minor hiccups in the last 6 months, 
I would definitely label homeschooling as a positive experience for us.
And honestly, most of our rough spots come from my being to hard on myself and having certain expectations of myself as teacher that are a little too high to reach.
But that being said, I feel that these high expectations have kept us on the straight and narrow as far as getting schoolwork done goes.
It's all about balance, and I work every single day on finding it.

Audrey is doing awesome in her studies!
In watching her learn, I am constantly amazed at how much kids are like sponges.
Place something in front of them and they will soak it in.
Yes, some days she's more like a slow-soaking sponge, but the amount of information that she retains on a whole is amazing to me.
Don't underestimate the brain of a child!

We're still pretty much using the exact same curricula that we started the year of with,
and on the whole I'm really happy with it.
In math I have added in an extra practice workbook, mainly because she actually really likes math and tends to fly through her assignments, and before we move on to the next level (in a few months), I want to make sure that she has her basic math facts down.
That knowledge isn't something you can fudge your way through.
One of the areas that she really excels in is spelling,
which is really no surprise as anything related to words has been her strong point since she started to read.
She's about halfway through her second spelling level (4th grade!) of the school year,
and, again, I'm thinking of doing some Spelling/Phonics review work of previous grade levels before we move on.
Plus I'll be throwing some more great classic literature at her.
I definitely credit her vocabulary and word recognition to reading, reading, reading.
As far as our difficulties in homeschooling go, 
the main ones that I can point to are schedule/routine, both Audrey's and my perfectionist mentality,
and sibling rivalry.
Our schedule/routine while though somewhat consistent on a weekly basis, is very different day to day.
I have found that my earlier "fix" to our routine problem ended up with problems of its own.
We are just not evening and weekend schoolers.
There are just too many distractions, and try as I did to make it work, for us it doesn't.
We've gone back to the weekday/daytime way of doing things and are happier for it.
I've just got to remember to keep the balance and not let myself get overwhelmed with everything I have on my plate.
It's a work in progress. ;)

I've realized that in several big ways, Audrey and I are very similar.
We're both people pleasers and failure of any sort frightens us.
Thus far Audrey has had a pretty easy run in current grade level school work.
She had an excellent head start with all that she learned in her two years of preschool.
So we're just now really starting to get into work that is a little more challenging for her.
And she gets easily overwhelmed if she doesn't get something right on the first try.
An example would be -- getting a word or two (out of twenty) wrong on a quiz.
Or skipping a step on a math problem and having to redo it.
This crushes her, and I distinctly remember feeling the same way.
I cried the first time that I didn't make straight As.
So I'm trying to teach her that this is what school is all about.
Learning things that you don't know.
Hopefully she'll accept this by the time she hits middle school.

Where my perfectionist mentality comes in, is in thinking about how much MORE I could be doing as her teacher.
Even though I feel like I'm doing a good job, I tend to focus more on what I'm not doing.
This definitely does nothing good for my day to day stress levels, so it's a habit I'm trying to give up.

As far as sibling rivalry goes, my kids, like most siblings, have a love/hate relationship.
Loving on each other and laughing one minute; screaming at the top of their lungs the next.
Also, homeschooling with a two year old that wants "mommy time" is challenging.
I'm slowly introducing the concept of "tot-school" to Lawson and myself.
Nothing too awful crazy, but with his natural inclination toward learning,
I feel it's time to add in some preschool type stuff with him.
And seeing what Montessori did for Audrey (and other kids that I worked with),
that's the avenue that I'm thinking of taking with Lawson.
The other day I tried switching off between the two of them.
School with Audrey, puzzles with Lawson, school with Audrey, bead threading and sorting with Lawson, etc.
It worked really well, and I feel that the peace was easier kept, and everyone's "mommy tanks" were kept full.

So, over the next few months we'll keep on trucking through, finishing up the curriculum that I set out to do this school year and figuring out, day by day, how to streamline and simplify our school routine.

I'm also really looking forward to summer.
The more I think about education, the more I realize that I'm a huge fan of year-round schooling.
Taking shorter breaks throughout the year is much more conducive to learning than taking a huge chunk of time off during a specific part if the year, IMO.
But in keeping with notion of fun and freedom that summer brings,
I have found and am starting to work on a super cool summer unit that I really think Audrey will love!
More on that to come...

So, to summarize...
I love homeschooling.
 There are definitely kinks, but we're slowly smoothing them out.
It's a decision that I am so happy we made and that I do not regret one single iota.


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