Posted by: S. L. Doss | August 6, 2016

End of the Year Review

Well, we’ve finally made it to the end of the school year and have our first year of homeschool under our belt. Boy, was it a crazy year, full of changes, challenges, defeats and victories! Through it all, though, I learned a lot. I mean, A LOT!

End of Year Review

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

I learned that I wasn’t as prepared as I thought.

When we began considering homeschool, I started researching curriculum, programs, and methods. I read lots of blogs about ways to homeschool, as well as quite a few that were all about how to start homeschooling. I made tons of notes, and revised plans I don’t know how many times. Finally, we settled on a program that we thought would be easy to follow, thorough…you know, perfect.

I learned that there is no perfect curriculum.

We were just a few weeks into the “perfect” program/curriculum when we realized it wasn’t working. It was too computer-intensive, whereas our son preferred projects and sprawling on the floor while working. Even though it was a full curriculum and very well-thought out and put together, it didn’t fit his learning style. So I cut some of the subjects from his daily plan, and incorporated some external projects and unit studies to help cut down the computer time. This still wasn’t perfect. It still didn’t fit with his learning style.

I learned that my son and I do not learn the same way.

We limped along a few months, wondering if we’d made a mistake, until I finally was able to research learning styles. Boy, was that an eye-opener! I am a visual learner. I’ve known this subconsciously all my life. I don’t grasp things unless I can see them. So, if you try to tell me how to get somewhere, I’ll get lost, but if I can see it on a map or read turn-by-turn directions, I’m a lot better. And don’t try to describe a picture or anything very complicated; I can’t picture it in my mind very well until I see a sketch or the real thing. My son, on the other hand, learns best by doing and hearing (kinesthetic/auditory). Reading is torture to him. He reads well, sure, but he doesn’t like to. He’d much prefer an audio book or the movie. And don’t make him sit at the desk rewriting spelling words or completing workbook pages! Let him move magnet letters around or actually build a seismograph instead of just read about it. So the curriculum which was perfect for my learning style was agony for his.

I learned that it’s hard to think outside of your own learning style.

We decided after half the year struggling with the program we were using to completely scrap it and I’d create the lessons from scratch. I found myself putting too much visual elements into them, though. You know, the workbook pages for math; the picture diagrams and paragraphs of reading for science; the hours of writing in language arts (ok, maybe not hours, but my son thought so!). “Oh, this is cool!” – put it in. “Wow! I love this!” – put it in. Oops! I wasn’t teaching me, I was teaching my son. Chop, chop, chop some more, add projects, add audio, add video games. Too much reading? Add a movie. Whew!

I learned that it’s hard to plan on the fly.

With the changes in the curriculum we made the first year, I found myself running 90 miles per hour trying to get lesson plans created so that we didn’t have too much downtime. This would have been hard anyway if I had been a stay-at-home mom; it was even more difficult since I worked full-time. Lunch hours were spent researching and planning, and then I’d post the next few days’ lessons on the weekend. It was stop-start-stop-start pretty much the whole year. You know, like a new driver that hasn’t learned which pedals do what, and your car is jerking down the road? Yeah, can we say “homeschooling whiplash”? My eyes still hurt remembering all the research I did last year!

I learned that I had a passion for education, especially homeschooling.

I enjoyed the research. No, not enjoyed. I loved, Loved, LOVED the research. Reading hundreds of blog entries (see my first “I learned” above), looking at thousands of Pinterest pins for ideas, creating lesson plans…all of that thrilled my soul. I’d always enjoyed writing; in fact, I have a B.A. in creative writing, but I’ve not yet been successful in completing a novel. I’d get busy with life, or get distracted with something else (crafting, anyone?) and the story would wither by the wayside. But with the lesson planning from our first year, and beginning a more methodical process of planning for the second year, I found myself struggling the opposite way: spending too much time on it and not enough time on life. All I thought about was homeschooling. I wanted to plan the classes. I spent hours (yes, HOURS) on Pinterest. I wanted to encourage others to consider homeschooling. I even dreamed of being a consultant someday.  I carried pounds of notes (yes, my purse weighed a couple pounds extra during that time) and filled two notebooks with ideas. I over-planned and had to constantly review and cut. Even now, although my son is only in 4th grade, I’m already beginning the prep on his high school schedule. Yeah, I love it!

It was a crazy year. I appreciate the lessons I’ve learned, and will take them into the future, hopefully making planning easier and less chaotic with every year under my belt. I’m glad, though, that we reached the end of the year; but happy that we are not yet at the end of our homeschool journey!

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