School’s Out for Summer

Finally, we have found our groove.

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I didn’t even know we were looking for it- until we found it. This was by FAR the best school year we’ve ever had, and we have done it through a new baby, potty training, renovating, pregnancy (along with the sickness and appointments it brings) and all the other things that make a house a home. A lot of it was due to having a lighter year last year; we were able to work on some relationship stuff, attention issues and self control habits (for me, too!). Only when that was all under control could we finally plug in and get somewhere, it seems. We are officially DONE school for the year, and now I can get a few things ready for new baby to come! We have finished grades 1, 3 and 5, and have a preschooler, two year old and one year old.

 

Here are some of our highlights:

 

Morning time was a big hit. So big, I wrote a whole post on it, alone. Handsome Hubby and I have decided to do a condensed version of it over the summer to keep us all in the habit. It’s been a great way to add Bible reading and specific prayer to our day, as somehow our mealtimes just get too hectic or late.

 

Field trips/Lessons. We didn’t do a lot. We did two sessions of swimming, gymnastics, sporadic drawing lessons, and the Telus Science Center (where I met the most beautiful new friend! Yay for homeschool day!) but that’s kinda it. This is what we needed this year- to just embrace being together and home. The schedule was so much quieter, and we weren’t in a rush all the time. Once you add in midwife appts, play dates and just regular life, it’s busy enough dragging along two babies. This was a good year to evaluate which things were worth keeping, and which we should wait a year or three. No regrets from any of us. We were also super blessed by our friend who came to read individually with the kids, each week. It was a beautiful way to get some one on one time, and help me have an extra opinion as to how they are doing.

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Combining Subjects. As this was the first year with three school age children, it worked well to do lots together. Science, Bible and social studies were fun with everyone. Some parts of LA were combined through the different grades, with differing expectations depending on experience. Another way of combining was introducing a formal grammar for the two boys, grades 3 and 5, and then making it their copywork, too. It greatly helped with cursive writing and printing practice, but wasn’t just another thing to check off a list.

 

Routine. This completely saved our life. We wouldn’t be done now, if we had left things more loose. Some years you can be relaxed, and some years, I think you just have to be tough so that everyone knows what’s expected of them and when. We had little to no discipline problems when it came to just sitting down and doing the work. It was simple- we just did a little each day (even through the breaks- we didn’t take off many days simply because I wanted to be done before baby came.) Some days we did all the subjects, and some we just did the bare minimum, but we did a little each and every single day. And they are so excited to have a long summer, that it’s a terrific reward and lesson to just do the hard things and get ‘er done. It was very hard for me- there were so many times I just wanted to finish my own projects or clean the house, but somehow everything got done. Next year I will add in more scheduled days off, though, for my own mental health!

 

Curriculum. In case you care, this is the actual books or texts I purchased for this year. It doesn’t really include stuff we did from online, novel studies, etc.

Math- A Beka (loved it. Much stronger than the Jump! we were using.)

LA- AAR; AAS; IEW Fix-it Grammar: The Nose Tree (LOVED this. My boys, who aren’t huge on writing or bookwork at all, were in a huge hurry to do it every day.); various reading lists (for individual and for all of us)

Writing/Printing- All About Handwriting (meh. Not stuck on it.)

Science- Apologia Astronomy (loved it, bought the box with all the experiment stuff inside, collated and bagged. Living out of town, we would never have done the fun activities if I hadn’t purchased this. Great buy for me!)

Social Studies- Canada, My Country from Donna Ward (It was okay. I’m more excited about Courage and Conquest next year, but this was a great starting off point.) Also, piles of current events, and daily life stuff.

French- Basic French (big waste of life I’ll never get back. Looking for better for next year.)

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This is the nitty gritty of the year passed. It’s also good to remind myself every year of the WHY. Why do I devote hours upon hours to this? Why do I put this “stress” on myself, when I could literally send them off each morning?

 

Here are my three biggest whys:

 

1.  Time. These memories I’ll carry forever (reading Little House on the Prairie, and them all begging not to stop; drinking hot chocolate and starting late on the day of the first snow; when they each grasped different concepts in their own time, and I could literally see the light go on in their eyes).

 

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2. Individualized learning. My grade 5 son, who loathes writing, has been working on a fantasy novel for months. It’s incredible. Absolutely astounding. His description, plot strength and imagination just completely floor me. When I help him edit it, I literally just can’t even believe it. To go from not wanting to write a freakin sentence in grades 1-3 (sorry, this has caused me a lot of angst, if you can’t tell), to taking a bit of a breather in grade 4, to writing on his own for afternoons on end has been so inspiring for me to watch. On days when he was wrapped in a plot twist, I could push the schedule back and let him unwind it all.

 

3. They are my children. I don’t trust the government to raise them. I respect the government, I’m thankful for a lot of what they do, but God has given me these children to disciple and raise- not them. I know I can’t do that job with just a couple hours each evening, and weekends. I already feel like there just isn’t enough time between now and eighteen.

There’s lots of other reasons, but these are the ones that get me outta bed each morning.

 

So, we’re done! I was going to add one of those cool pictures of my feet, but then I realized my toes are not painted. I can’t reach them, and I’m pretty sure it was the first time I even saw them in months. So, use your imagination: Today, I am sitting on the deck with the sun in my face and kids playing in the yard. It’s a good life. It’s rarely easy and it’s not always fun, but man, it’s good.

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