Friday, January 19, 2018

How the Homeschool Year is Going So Far! #SQT

It's Friday, a cold day with snow everywhere. My two oldest are on their way down to DC for the March for Life. They left at 5AM from Cowgirl's godmother's home (a hour south of us where they spent the night to be there first thing in the morning) and will arrive back there after midnight.  My two littles are still asleep.

So, I thought I would offer a little update on how the school year is going. I'll try for 7 Quick Takes, it might only be 4, but here we go...

#1 Free Video Classes are Amazing! If Virtual Homeschool Group offered affilitate programs, I could be their biggest endorser.  I tell everyone about it.  I am here to tell you, after using it for half our school year it really is wonderful. I highly recommend using their classes and if you have the time, why not teach one, too!

#2 Geography Coloring Book is Working! I really, really like geography. I would spend hours just looking through my atlas and spinning my globe, then returning to my atlas to learn more about my globe discovery.  I have had a hard time getting my kids that excited about it, though.

I was determined that this would be the year we made significant strides in geography.  Now, they all have very good map skills and can name a few dozen animals that live on every continent. However, putting those two together was fuzzy at best.

I spent months researching THE BEST geography curriculum. I didn't like what I found or was overwhelmed by the price. Then my friend, Emily, suggested we just draw and color maps.  Why didn't I think of that?  Since she was schooled in Europe for a number of years, I went with her advice. 

I purchased a second hand book of blank geo-political maps.  We have been very slowly working through first coloring each of the continents, labeling them, and discussing boundaries. Now we are getting down to color coding individual countries on the continents.  I hope to do a map for each country, too, but don't think we will make it there this year at this pace. I am just so happy they are learning and have gotten very interested in maps and globes!! 

#3 We Have Not Tamed the Pen and Pencil Eating Monster!  I don't know about your house, but our writing implements are ALWAYS missing!!  We switched to only pen, as suggested by Andrew Pudewa. I thought that might solve it, nope, I am still asked at least 54,863,925 times a week, "Do you know where my pen is?"

If you have advice, please share it! I have tried every system known to man, short of tying them down like in the bank! 

#4 Latin is So Much Fun!!  Who knew!  My boys long to do Latin and are enjoying it so much. They walk through the house chanting conjugations and quotes by famous philosophers.  

#5 I Should Have Been Using Saxon All Along!  I fought the tide of every recommendation to use Saxon Math. We tried all the rest.  I wanted color and depth. I wanted fancy with drills and fancy workbooks. Then I wanted simple and easy. Then I wanted manipulatives upon manipulatives. Then I switched back to easy.  In the end, all I really wanted was for them to learn math.

Math always my least favorite subject. I thought I needed to make it something spectacular for my kids to overcome that. As it happens, they just need a solid textbook and a bit of guidance. We are now a Saxon family! 

#6 Having a School Calendar Makes Me Happy!  Our old way of running the school was start after Labor Day and finish at Memorial Day. We took no breaks other than minimal time for Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.  Typically we logged over 200 days even though we finished "a month early."

I am getting older and I realized that this amount of work load was not doing anyone good.  So we are now on a trimester plan. We have 11 weeks on and then a "reading week."  We also took off a week for Thanksgiving (kind of a reading week--I think), one for Christmas, and we will have off time for Easter.  In February is our next reading week.  Then we will finish by June 1st.

Having a plan, makes everything run smoother. I divided our workload by three semesters and now we can see exactly what needs to get done when. No more realizing in April we have miles to go before we sleep!

#7 School Doesn't Need a Room!  I was bound and determined to make our school more efficient and official by having it in the "school room" every day with everyone working around our big table and a clock to govern our time. It worked for the first 6 weeks, mostly.

However, Cowgirl needs her peace and solitude to work well. Even with everyone else working/playing and engaged, she was too distracted.  In the end having her work in her room worked for everyone.

Having the boys downstairs and out of the kitchen, though, has led to far fewer snack breaks.  I get much more accomplished for my job, life, etc. when I take whatever I need to get done and bring it down as well. 

The little ones play instead of climbing on me and whining for my attention every 30 seconds and Buddy works on his school work.  We have fallen a bit off this wagon with the allure of the living room fire on the cold winter days.  I need to just push Buddy to light a fire downstairs and that would solve it.  I just haven't wanted to have to keep two fires burning while I work.

Perhaps, February will change my mind. February is the hardest homeschool month. We need a little prodding to keep going. Fire and tea just might be it!

I made it through all seven!!  

How is your homeschool year going? Have any tips or tricks to share?