So I'm going to share a little re-cap of our homeschool year: the victories the Lord has given us, progress that was made and blessings we received. And I know it is at the risk of sounding like we have it all together (a pitfall of blogging). So I will just briefly add that yes, we had hard days. Most days contained interruptions of some kind with chaos levels ranging from mild to DEAR LORD HELP US ALL. But God was faithful. Here a little, there a little. Just faithfulness in small things each day and before long, fruit is growing.
I love homeschooling and count it such a wonderful gift and privilege, even going on 16 years of it now. I recently read this from Edward W. Hooker (1794--1875):
"Your child will need a well-balanced and cultivated mind as much as a pious heart. Let his desires to do good never be frustrated through your neglect of his intellectual education."
Re-Cap of the 2014-2015 School Year
- Every day began with group time. As in, everybody. During group time we read aloud through about ten books varying in genre. We began most mornings with Proverbs, books, hymns and prayer. In the fall we went through Veritas Press' Old Testament History together. When finished, we could put the main events of scripture from Judges to 1 Kings in chronological order, and we had tons of fun doing it. (Last year we did VP's Genesis to Joshua. Lord willing we will continue using VP's Old Testament History program next year.)
Shiloh getting a back rub from Serenity while I read during group time..
- I also read-aloud another 5-7 books alone together with Stephen (8), Silas (6) and Shiloh (4) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, including their all-time favorite: The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major (Each time we start a new book they ask to read that one again). I tried to keep these book choices extra awesome.
(I must insert here, that it is easy for me to get discouraged in the amount of read-aloud books we can cover. We used to be able to cover many more. It has been a lesson in contentment the Lord has taught me, as well as trusting Him to bring the increase in my best efforts. And I mention it because I think it is a common point of discouragement for moms :))
- On Mondays and Wednesdays I worked with Stephen (8), Silas (6) and Shiloh (4) on the Children's Shorter Catechism and group scripture memory. We fell off the wagon on this several times and had to climb back on. This takes a total of about 10 minutes, but is very easy to let fall through the cracks.
- Silas (6) and I worked one-on-one every day for about an hour or more, and he was able to finish the entire Hooked on Phonics program, the first McGuffey's Reader, a multitude of Mudge and Henry books :) and Abeka Math K.
- Also during our time together Silas narrated many of Aesop's Fables to me and did copy work every day. He went from copying one sentence at the beginning of our school year, to copying paragraphs with more complicated punctuation, by the end of the year. He has also grown confident enough to write me notes and has begun to pen-pal with two other boys his age. Si made a lot of progress this year and I'm thankful to be the one to get to watch his mind open up so beautifully.
- Stephen (8) has daily worked through a list of assigned books to read independently (that included science and history). I required him to orally narrate to me from time to time, but I failed to do it as often as I intended. Still, Stephen has grown in leaps and bounds in his reading fluency and writing ability. He enjoyed his Handwriting Without Tears Cursive Book and finished it months ago. He copied good literature each day. He has three pen-pals and has begun writing the letters in cursive. Stephen is still working on the Abeka math book 2 and will stop at the end of this month.
- Stephen (8) has been taking piano lessons from Shelbi for two years now, and, bless his heart, he's been real tolerant of the whole thing, never complaining (I think it's because he enjoyed the time alone with Shelbi). But...let's just say a fire was never lit ;) So I let him quit and he just started guitar lessons. He is definitely more excited about the guuitar! And I don't regret the piano lessons for a second. Good habits of self-discipline were formed and he can read music now on a beginner level, and that will help him in any instrument he ever plays, as well as in singing. (Ya'll didn't know you were going to get a sermon about music lessons, did you?)
First guitar recital for Stephen and Seth with their new teacher.
- Sarah Grace (10) worked more independently this year than she ever has before. She worked through Rod and Staff Math 4 and I checked her work. In the spring she needed more help and we worked 15-20 minutes each day until she got the new concepts. Then off she flew again, finishing a few weeks ago. She completed the Classically Cursive book from Veritas this year too.
- Sarah Grace has also read through a list of assigned books and has moved to written narrations. I require one written narration of her each week, at least a page long, and we go over it together and make notes of the problems. These have steadily improved throughout the year. Occasionally, she will work on a lengthy copywork passage four days and on the fifth day I dictate it to her as she tries to write the passage without mistakes in spelling or punctuation. (These are all simple and effective ways I have taught all the kids to write, and they are all strong writers).
A few on her list
- Sarah Grace also has four pen-pals she exchanges letters with. She took off in hand skills this year as well, especially crochet. She started an etsy shop.
- All of the kids have scripture memory goals that I give them and some make faster progress than others. A big part of their day is devoted to it. But Sarah-Grace blew everyone out of the water when she finished memorizing the entire Sermon on The Mount last month. That day called for excessive amounts of chocolate.
- Seth (14) is independent in his work. He comes to me when he has a problem and when he is hungry and we're out of food. This year he finished a list of assigned books (many of them history), Editor-in-Chief workbook, Easy Grammar Plus for high school, numerous written narrations on the assigned reading, and creative writing that I insisted he do (insert evil laugh here), and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1. He moved on to TT Geometry and is half-way through it now. Seth also finished Apologia Biology.
- Seth started Visual Latin this year and he and I both are big fans of this program. He is about 3/4 finished with level 1 and next year I will get level 2, Lord willing. He also took off by leaps and bounds in his ability on the guitar. He has played for many years, but this year he became more passionate and naturally that took things to a new level.
- Savannah (18) finished her last year of high school in March, the stinker. Just couldn't soften the blow a little and wait until May. This last year she only had a list of books I gave her to read, Notgrass Government and Economics and....that's it. The rest of her requirements were met already. Sniff. (I could write an entire post on how it feels to graduate a homeschooler, but the lump in my throat always gets the best of me. It is bittersweet. And graduate number 2 hasn't been any easier! I already miss telling her what to do. Heh.)
- Shelbi (19) graduated last year but I'm sticking her in here because old habits die hard. Shelbi still has an insatiable appetite to read and learn and now she is the ones who recommends books to me. Shelbi started CollegPlus in January. It was a big decision for her and one we sought the Lord on for a long time. In one semester she earned 18 hours of college credit through CLEP testing alone. She is really enjoying and benefitting from the CollegePlus model so far.
All three of our teenagers are very busy and the Lord continues to provide them with so many unique opportunities. It is an exciting time of life for them and we are thankful to see them maturing in the Lord and walking is wisdom. That said, miss them as babies.
God has been so good to us. Homeschooling isn't always easy. There are temptations of laziness for some and temptations of worry and fretfulness ("Am I doing enough?") for others. Sometimes we fall anywhere on that scale at any time :) But I'm convinced God will give us the grace to do what he has called us to do.
What about you? How did your school year go? Will you keep up a summer school schedule or be footloose and fancy free? :)