Okay, guys. We are officially finished with our first year of homeschooling.
Then I came across this awesome article On to Plan C: An Honest Look at My School Year. And I was like, dude, people are tired of hearing about how you fold your underwear. Let’s navel-gaze a little about your first year as the mom in a homeschooling situation! That’s easily worth a thousand words.
Homeschooling my own young children was way different than I expected. Because this year…did not go as planned. I did not plan how much I and my support system would be rocked by the COMPLETELY AWESOME ARRIVAL of my beautiful niece a few days before I was planning to start the year. I did not plan on stopping metabolizing my medication. I did not plan on the ensuing breakdown and daily panic attacks. I did not plan on effectively starting over again completely on antidepressants and gaining twenty pounds and losing my will to, oh, get up in the morning. I did not plan on Buddy requiring speech therapy and the six-month process it would take to FINALLY get him started. I did not plan on Squeaks suffering so so much throughout the year and us not being able to figure out what was wrong until a few weeks ago. I did not plan on feeling like I could not handle many of the responsibilities that were all of a sudden mine (You don’t know how to tie your shoes? Why? Oh shit. I’m supposed to teach you, right? Dang.) I did not plan on having cancer hit our family again. I did not plan on Squeaks and I having such discipline problems because of her struggles that it effectively ended our year two weeks early because it was that or seriously damage my relationship with my daughter.
I did not plan on any of that.
I planned on days starting with prayers and songs and then we’d talk about what subjects we wanted to do and we’d play outside and then I don’t know, try to split the atom before a nutritious lunch and a nice nap.
Look! Here we are on the first day!
Hahahahaha. That lasted like six seconds. Oh well. It was an adorable photo op.
But even with all that stuff that went wrong, it was an amazing year and I realized that homeschooling is completely right for our family, and that I can totally do this.
I figured that out by finding out what did not work for me (like the author of the post above.) And oh, their number was legion.
So last summer, when I was a tiny baby brand-new homeschooling mom, I realized I had no idea how to homeschool a 6-year-old in 2015. All of my experience with homeschooling really stopped in 2002. And I didn’t even start until I was in third grade, and doing things actual academic subjects. I guess I was around for my brother being in kindergarten, but I was waay more concerned with the important pressing matters of the Saddle Club series or something by then. So I was completely at a loss.
(My husband really enjoys laughing about last year when I was trying to order books online and I was all upset because I couldn’t find the math teachers book. And he was like, “Um. Honey? You have a graduate degree. You can’t add the fishies together on your own?”)
So I figured I would just pick the curriculum (or rather curricula, since I combined the ones that said Christopher Columbus was awesome just because he was Catholic and all Catholics are amazing except those Novus Ordo fools, and the one that says we should murder all the papists and also that rock over there? Probably from the flood.) and then get the big ol’ K-5 kits that contain everything except a new pair of underwear every day.
I dutifully ordered them, spent a ton of money even though it felt like a drop in the bucket compared to the tuition we had been paying at the area’s most expensive Catholic school (Jesus Himself should come and do miracles every few weeks for what we paid.) I put all the flashcards in binders and other random shit that I remember looking at and thinking, “Yep. Probably never going to use this as I’m not even sure what it is.” I got my lesson planner out, and sat down one night to plan the year!
And then I realized…I had no idea how my daughter learned. I know her better than anyone in the world, but I’ve never been responsible for her formal education. I had no idea the pace at which she worked, or what I could reasonably expect to cover in a certain amount of time for each subject. So I put my book away, and decided to wing it.
And that? Amidst all the crazy (sometimes literally) that this year brought us, worked quite well. Around Christmas I started doing weekly lesson plans in my own planner, which was awesome. Once I was relatively stable and I had a better feel for how quickly she worked through certain material, it was nice to have a plan for each week. But because all the rest of our lives were burning around us, it was nice to not have a plan for the rest of the year that I’d feel badly sticking to.
We did a lot of reading, a lot of science, and had a lot of experiences. I discovered I freaking HATED the history book I had picked (This is our flag. God made our country. We love God. No shit, Sherlock.) so I chucked it and did units based on the time of the year (Thanksgiving, Columbus Day) or preparing for our trip to Williamsburg. We also watched the Pope’s visit to the United States and did some coloring about it and it was awesome.
We finished all the core subjects (not that any of it matters, because you’re not required to be in school until 1st grade in Wisconsin), with weeks to spare, and she’s waaaay ahead at subjects that interest her (like reading and cursive) and plugging away at those that don’t (handwriting and history).
We snuggled a lot of babies.
Or rather one baby, but we snuggled her a lot.
We used none of the things I thought we’d need from those huge packages I bought.
Once I let go of all my expectations, we had a healthy, happy, and productive year.
And that, I guess, is why I loved homeschooling so much.
In the coming weeks I’m going to detail my plan for next year, mostly to keep me accountable but also because I really like blogging and don’t have a whole lot else going on in my life.
(Also I bought a SUPER expensive lesson planner and I need to justify it to my husband somehow. Endorsements anyone?)