Six years we’ve been homeschooling. We started right off the bat with our oldest in Kinder and have kept right on through and he’s now nearing the end of 5th grade. And this may be the first time I’ve ever felt this at the end of our school year (I should check back on my blog posts to find out!), but I do not want our year to end.
Partly why is that it is another test year. That does put some added pressure on being able to say “I’ve taught the concepts thoroughly, now go be tested on them,” and the ‘end of the year’ sort of suggests I should be confident in saying that. Since I’m not sure I’ll ever be overly confident in that though, I don’t want the year to end so that we don’t have to do testing yet. But alas, the time is here.
But also? I don’t want the year to end because I’m quite simply not ready to have a 6th Grader. I know I don’t technically have to call him a 6th Grader, but he is 11, he’s almost as tall as me and he’s learning concepts that feel brand-new to me! I can’t slow that down no matter what ‘grade’ I say he is in and the end of the year is such an in-your-face-reminder that time is passing and gone.
On a brighter note, I’ve discovered yet a few more things that make our schooling go smoothly … it may make more sense to share info like this at the beginning of the year, but I have to share it while it is fresh in my mind. Plus, one thing I always know to be true is that something may work now and not later so these approaches may not have the same positive effect at the beginning of next year…
Separate School Rooms
SO! One thing … working in seperate rooms for different subjects. I used to find such value in all of us sitting around our large school (dining) table, but guess what that leads to now? Lots-and-lots of chatter. Messing with each other. Blurting out random thoughts they suddenly have because there are 3 other sets of ears within 5 feet to share them with.
Hello, distractions. I’m all for my boys loving to chat with each other and having ample time to do that is one of the gifts they have from homeschooling. But yes … they have ample time to do that after their lessons are done. Or at least not in the middle of every single sentence they write or in between each step of a pretty challenging story problem.
Plus, it gets us moving. I’ve discovered that I have just as hard of a time sitting for a long period in one spot as they do! So putting Math and Grammar in the school room, Spelling in the breakfast nook, and Winning With Writing and Reading Comprehension in the living room keeps us all moving. Especially me since I just rotate around the rooms pretty constantly checking on how they are doing.
Kaden tends to be the least distracting and least distracted of the bunch so he’s usually at the school table, but likes to also just do his lessons with me at the kitchen bar.
I want to say “How did it take me this long to figure this out??” but realize that this just wasn’t a feasible approach for us before. But if you find that your older kiddos are distracting to each other as you work in the same room? Maybe try seperate rooms for different subjects. I knew it was helpful from the first day we tried it out, but REALLY knew it was helpful on the days when I shifted back to working all together in the same room. Those days leave me in a frazzled heap, wondering if any learning took place. 😉
From the seperate rooms for different subjects, we’ve taken it one step further to just working together one on one for their 5 main subjects: Math, Spelling, Grammar, Writing, and Reading Comp. Sitting down with one boy, working through his lessons and then excusing him and doing the same with the other.
This came into being pretty naturally over the past 2 months or so as we’ve been battling a few hard-hitting illnesses. One boy will be sick for a number of days, so pretty unable to ‘do’ school. So I’d work individually with a healthy one. Then lay on the ground or whereever with the sick one and work together through the subjects he was able. And as their illnesses got passed around, this processes was on-going.
And now I see that it is just pretty brilliant of an approach, particularly for the younger two. My oldest (5th Grade) is free to work on subjects on his own if he’d like to, but we still sit down one-on-one with everything he’s completed and then move on to those he hasn’t. I was pretty hung up for awhile thinking that they NEED to be doing all of this independently but now I see that:
A) They work better and more focused with my undevided attention, leading to deeper understanding of the concepts and
B) It actually makes our school day faster.
C) It doesn’t stress me out as much!
This also may not have worked very well during previous years of our schooling, but now that the boys are old enough to entertain themselves and not needing me every 5 seconds, it’s working well. So I start with my 3rd Grader, move on to my 5th, and then the little guy, then finish together with Science and History. This doesn’t sound like an efficient use of time, but surprisingly it cuts out what seems like hours of distraction so it works. 😉
Starting Later in the Morning
I also used to have it in my mind that we should start school by 8:30. And then every day we’d start at 9:30 or 10 and I’d feel like I already failed and that’s never a good mentality to have when giving 3 children their education. As motivation to start early, then, I told them that they couldn’t play any electronics until after school. That kind of worked, but more often than not, we’d still start later but they’d fill their morning with play, reading, going outside, hanging out together in their room, etc. Hear: they’d fill their morning with quality time!
On the mornings that we did start early, we’d finish by 11:30 or so and guess what they’d do as soon as they were done? Not quality time … they’d immediately ask to play the Wii, the phone, watch a show, etc. I could say ‘no’ but who’m I kidding … I’d want some quiet time and so I say fine and that sets the tone for the rest of the afternoon: playing and watching electronics. Because school was ‘done’ I’d feel a little guilty but for the most part okay that they were occupied and I could get a bunch of stuff done. NOT a good use of our time as a whole though.
So instead, I’m embracing the later start time because wouldn’t you know that when we start at 10 and finish at 3, the first thing they want to do at that point is run outside! I don’t know what it is about that shift in time but it’s the way it goes.
That being said, as we near summer and we’re seeing nicer days, we may be starting earlier because our desire to be outside rises with the sun. So we’ll see if this changes.
We’ll see if all of this changes … it very well might and that’s okay. I’ve learned a lot of things about how to approach our home-school and I think I’ve finally accepted that it doesn’t have to look like a traditional school setting or schedule.
We have to go with what works for us, and as sure as that is true, it is also true that what works for us does change fairly often. I’m grateful that homeschooling gives us the freedom to adapt our approach to their changing needs and that God has worked on making me less rigid and more willing to embrace and take on those changes.
Thank you for visiting! Have an amazing weekend! ♥
And, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!