Saturday, May 25, 2013

How Was Your School Year: My Perspective of 2012-2013

This school year had many unplanned events. We bought a foreclosure, sold our home of 11+ years, moved (which totally destabilized our mentally ill Goldilocks), started major renovations on our new home, and our oldest went through cardiac pacemaker surgery. Of course, all of these things had an impact on our homeschooling.

Considering all of the changes and difficulties we had this year, I am really delighted and surprised to see how well our school year went. We stayed on track for the most part and did most of what I set out to do before knowing that any of these changes were coming. Being flexible and persevering were the most helpful tools to getting through this school year. Our school year did not look much like others in the past. We schooled much more with workbooks and less with hands-on projects than we do most years, and that is okay. One of the main joys of homeschooling is flexibility. Next year will look different from this year just as every year in our 14 year journey with homeschooling has been a little different. We just keep changing it up until we find what is working.

Stuff that Worked ~
  • Audio Books ~ They can go anywhere. We listened to them in the car, while painting walls, while ripping out floors, and while snuggled in bed. The volume can be turned up loud to drown out construction noise, too!
  • Teaching Textbooks ~ This math curriculum really works for two of my kiddos. It can go anywhere if you have a laptop. I love that there are no gaps and the grading is done for me.
  • Life of Fred (math) ~ This book series is helping all of my kids and gets in "living math". I prefer this way of learning, but it takes more work than workbooks.
  • All About Spelling ~ I really appreciated the scripted lesson plans with this program, since I needed someone else to do much of the academic thinking this year. I saw a real improvement in my girls' spelling.
  • Academic Teas ~ Everything is more exciting with tasty food and tea! We held most of our teas this year for breakfast since I was cooking anyway. This was a great way to get in subjects that we were neglecting. We had poetry and art teas this year. It was just enough to take an hour or two to devote to a different poet or an artist (that was not our main artist for the quarter).
  • Workbooks ~  I hate to admit it, but workbooks do work in difficult times. I consider them busy work and they proved to be just that. But, at least the kids were busy learning and not busy making huge messes. I hope I do not need to rely so heavily on them next year, but I was glad to have the resource this year.
  • Educational Games ~ Games are a wonderful way to reinforce skills and fill time with meaningful activities. This year we played the following games many times; Multiplication War, Chess, Blokus, Life, Payday, Sequence, Yahtzee, Go Fish for Art, River Crossing, Man Bites Dog, and Apples to Apples.
  • Dance Classes ~ The kids get so much out of dance. They get exercise, confidence, social time, acting skills, performing skills -- plus they LOVE it.
What Didn't Work ~
  • Some Out of the Home Classes ~ Chess did not work out for us. It was just too much to juggle with our life this year. Also, choir did not really provide us with enough skills or confidence building to keep it on the schedule.
  • Play Dates with Others ~ We were just too busy this year. We missed seeing our friends on a more regular basis, so I am hoping that we can resume play dates this summer.
  • Geography ~ I am sorry to say the maps have not even been hung up. We really flopped on geography this year! I will be making up for that this summer. Watch for a post on our summer fun plans.
  • American Girl Club ~ I never even got it off the ground! I really want to try this in the coming year.
  • Goldilocks' Education ~ It seems like my girl lost most of the year dealing with her own trauma about the move. By far, this past year was hardest on Goldilocks. She really did not handle all of the changes well and has suffered through a very emotional year. We had to reach out to her psychological team to make some improvements. She went into this school year already several grades behind, and the only true improvement we have seen is in reading. I do think "letting" her listen to audio books in her room and encouraging her to write in her journal have added to her learning. However, it is terribly slow going. I also think the computer curriculum, Time4Learning, has potential to make a difference in her learning.
Changes ~
  • Tutors ~ We are looking forward to Goldilocks starting with reading and writing tutors in the next few months. She is on a waiting list. I also have my eye out for a math tutor.
  • American Girl Club ~ I am hoping that this will happen next year. I have started planning the details with another mother.
  • Home Economics ~ It seems obvious that when you are home with your kids they are getting home economics. However, if it is not on the schedule, it doesn't always get done. I am hoping to do much more cooking, meal planning, and table setting with the kids this year. Also, I am looking for ways to help Goldilocks with sewing. I'm really inexperienced with sewing machines and she is so impulsive that I think an outsider may be better for teaching her. I'm thinking about how to handle this.
  • Physical and Occupational Therapy ~ We really enjoyed our break this year from therapies, but it is time to return for support. Tom Sawyer has already started physical therapy, and before the summer is over, I think he may be referred for occupational therapy as well. Also, Little Red Riding Hood may need some physical therapy. Her foot and knee are still turning in and she is going to need the healthiest posture possible before beginning Tween Company with the dance studio next year.
  • A Sport for Goldilocks ~ I think Goldilocks needs a sport to deal with all of her energy and anxiety. I am considering cross country running or basketball, although basketball may be too much with our dance schedule.
  • Robotics ~ I am going to try to provide more robotics opportunities for Tom Sawyer. I am not sure if this will be in the home or out. Once again, this is nothing that I or my husband know anything about. However, I think a few kits will get him started. Also, there is a 6 week Lego class that we may be able to try late summer.
Overall, it was a great year. Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer are on or above grade level in almost all subjects. The kids are not totally stressed out and desperate for summer to begin like they are some years. That fact alone shows that we did lots right this year.  I also am not desperate for a break. I say this often, but truly we are so blessed to homeschool our children.

Blessings, Dawn


  1. We adapt to the seasons of life and maturity of our children. I totally agree with what you said about workbooks. We've been using them the last two years between having a difficult baby/toddler and moving/renovating and it has been good, but now I am feeling ready to move to a more CM style for next year.

    I hope things fall nicely into place for the best help for Goldilocks.

    You seem to handle all the challenges with such confidence and grace, Dawn.

  2. What a great wrap up post Dawn. Wow you did make some major changes this year. I love how you listed what worked and what didn't work! I feel so blessed to be able to homeschool also. Happy Memorial Day weekend Dawn.

  3. I like how you carefully thought out what worked, what didn't, and what you hope to change. It does sound like, overall, it was a good year, despite major changes. It all is a learning process, isn't it?!

    Audio books work really well for us, too. I am also finding that carefully selected workbooks can be a good tool for the girls to do on their own. They are not my favorite thing, but when they help choose them and enjoy doing them, it's a good option.

    I hope you enjoy your weekend :)

  4. It's nice to be able to reflect on the year, on what worked and on what didn't. I plan to incorporate tea times next year.

    I know how hard transitions can be for some kids and I'm so sorry that Goldilocks has struggled so much this year. When the trauma stuff resurfaces, there is just no learning that can happen at all. I hope that she is able to get back on track and I will be praying for both of you.

  5. You had a lot of transitions but it seems like you weathered it all well:)We are all about educational games and audiobooks, especially when we are traveling. I still want to give the teas a try... I think my girls would love that!

    Blessings for the summer and upcoming year!

  6. Great post. As you know, I am going through a similar process now regarding what worked/ didn't work, especially for the youngest. I will DEFINITELY be back, because I need to embrace my more creative side with my FAR more active younger child if school is to be associated in any way with a positive memory!