This post is from contributor, Stephanie Sears
This is our first year of “real” homeschooling. I mean the kind where you sit your child at a table and give him specific assignments. The kind where you lesson plan and research and lesson plan some more.
My son started the year straddling three grades – pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade. Age-wise he should be in pre-k; however, academically he is in late kindergarten/early first grade. He reads well, can do basic math, and is slightly more mature than his age would suggest.
I pulled books from all three grades to put together a curriculum that he would enjoy, learn from, and would help him grow.
What I didn’t expect is that he would fly through a lot of the material or that he would think I wasn’t giving him enough work. His natural strengths played well to certain books and topics, and he enjoyed subjects I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect him to tell me when we sat down to review his work before Christmas that Latin was his favorite subject, and I certainly didn’t expect to hear him say learning about the solar system was his least favorite (especially given that he begged me to cover that).
These little conversations are important, because they keep everyone on the same page and encourage learning. They also give you, the parent, the chance to re-evaluate decisions you made and move in a new direction if necessary.
Then of course there were the things which weren’t working. While he loves Latin, the program we originally purchased was dry. Straight vocab recitation. It’s perfect for older kids, but he was complaining that while he loves learning the new words, he wanted something more exciting. So I bought a CD from a different company. He loves it, and now we are going to try that program.
It is important to re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t. More importantly, it is necessary. The benefit of homeschooling is that we can work within our budgets to create programs that help grow our students’ strengths and correct their weaknesses. There isn’t one right way to do it.
Here are a few of the decisions I’ve made over the last few weeks:
- Preschool activity book. We decided not to replace this. He finished Seton’s Early Literacy for Young Catholics before Thanksgiving. While he had fun doing it he told me it was “way too easy.”
- Latin. We started the year with Prima Latina. My goal this year was to just use the CD and save the book work for a year or two from now. He has learned a ton of Latin (even my 1.5 year old is picking it up!), but the repetition is getting boring. Instead, we are replacing it with Song School Latin. We will most likely come back to Prima Latina in the 2015-2016 school year.
- Religion. I did not expect to finish Seton’s Pre-K Religion for Young Catholics before Christmas, but we did. My kids LOVE religion, and we do it all together. So we will be moving to the Kindergarten Catechism for Young Catholics, Leading the Little Ones to Mary, The St. Joseph Picture Book Set, and My Jesus and I in January.
- Science. In the fall we focused on outer space and the solar system by using books I purchased at a homeschool convention in the summer. It included things like Magic School Bus, Usborne books, and a lot of library stuff. Surprisingly, this was not a popular topic in our house. In the spring, per my son’s request, we are going to be focusing on nature using The Nature Connection, an awesome workbook for hands-on nature discovery.
While I decided to make our changes at the beginning of a new semester, there is nothing wrong with stopping in the middle of a semester to improve your homeschool. Throwing away a failing phonics program for early readers at the library in March is just as beneficial to a child as changing after the Christmas break.
What’s important is focusing on our children’s needs. Whether it is as simple as putting a book away until the following year or ordering new material, homeschooling is about listening to the child.
Are you making any big changes to your homeschool in 2014? What are they?