When I pieced together our curriculum last year, I had no idea what we had in store! None of us could have imagined the turn of events in the spring. Despite the strange ending, it was a year filled with emotional and intellectual growth. There were a few things we tweaked along the way, and a few things that we loved. I've been making mental notes to share with you, but I'm generally moving slower through life these days.
What we've learned this year will help me make decisions for next year's curriculum. And maybe it will help you make some decisions, too. To see the curriculum we pieced together last year, go here.
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Takeaways from our Homeschool Year
1. We were literature HEAVY
I know that it is a wonderful thing to be literature heavy. At the same time, though, it seemed that we were riding a tricycle with one of the back wheels missing. We were searching for balance, but it couldn't be found with our curriculum. A little math showed me that we spent at least three times as much reading living books than we do studying math or science. And, some of our "science lessons" (nature study) involved reading through the Burgess Bird Book.
Charlotte Mason said, in reference to math, that one subject shouldn't be valued higher among the others. That makes a lot of sense to me in a whole, well-rounded person sort of way, but not in a modern world way. Math, and its counterpart science, are literally more valuable when it comes to jobs of the future and how much they will pay. While this is not my only goal of education, it is one of them. My husband the architect is adamant that our children could have these jobs if they wanted them.
The public school system tends to build members of society that are strong in language arts, or strong in math and science. Maybe some of this is naturally ocurring, but what if it's possible to raise children who are strong with the so-called "left-brain skills" and "right-brain skills?"
Takeaway: Next year, we'll add in a bit more science, and we'll be more consistent with nature study.
2. And speaking of language arts heavy...
About half way through the homeschool year, Miss H realized that she didn't know how to write as well as her peers. We've spent plenty of time actually writing through copywork and her handwriting book, but she specifically asked me to teach her how to use capitals, periods, and "things like that." I know that interest-led learning is not a part of Charlotte Mason's plans, except for in free time during the afternoon, but this seemed different to me. She wasn't asking to learn about something silly and extra, she asked to learn a core subject area that I hadn't included.
You can imagine how terrible this made me feel. She had no idea why I wasn't teaching her these skills, and "because Charlotte Mason said so" didn't seem like a strong enough answer. So in the middle of the year, I searched for a language arts curriculum. I decided on Language Lessons for a Living Education, and to be honest with you, it isn't my favorite. We bought the second grade curriculum, but it was not challenging enough at all. She soon tired of writing CVC words, and the stories included were dull.
Takeaway: I'm letting her have some say in what we're learning. In the next school year, we'll use a language arts curriculum that fits us better (I'll share what we're going to use soon!)
3. Come up with a new plan.
If this school year taught me anything, it's that we, as homeschooling moms, have to be flexible. I tend to make plans and hold tight to them, but this year, I had to loosen my grip quite a bit. My children's emotional needs were more important than the schedule. I added in some more read-alouds, and more lessons that my middle child could join us in, too. We did part of Playful Pioneers from the Peaceful Press (and will pick up the rest in the fall!) to add something delightfully different into our days. We watched more educational TV than normal, and spent more hours outside. It reminded me a bit of those sacred early years, where the expectations were low but curiosity was high.
At the same time, I felt so grateful that we already had habits and rhythms established so that it didn't feel like the rug was pulled out from underneath us in March. We were able to finish what we needed to do, even while altering our flow a bit.
Takeaway: Relish flexiblity in homeschooling.
Books we loved
Books we enjoyed a little less
The Book of Indians by Holling C Hollings
Books that disappeared
We didn't make it through the Burgess Bird Book, because it went missing sometime in the spring. I had all of our books out to catalog our library, and I'm wondering if the littlest wandered off with it! I decided to include this random category because I can't really make a judgment on this book since we didn't finish reading it!
Soon I'll share with you what we'll use next homeschool year, which amazing starts in about a month!