“Commit one year at a time.” That is one of the best homeschool pieces of advice I have ever received. This is particularly true when we started our first year in grade school. I can still remember summer of last year when I was buying books online for Timmy and how I wanted to buy a set of Language Arts books that was good up to grade four. Commit one year at a time, God reminded me. I ended up purchasing just what I needed for the school year.
This perspective also helped me to focus on what we need to accomplish. What I love about homeschooling is that it not only teaches my son but it also teaches me. c”,) Most of my personal lessons revolve around character molding. Haha! I get schooled by my student, my husband, and my God. It’s like getting a Master’s degree in humility, patience, endurance—and barely passing. Haha! There are so many things I’ve learned this past homeschool year and I am excited to share them with you!
Don’t teach unprepared. Why? Because it will affect the flow of your study time. I know this should be common sense but there were times when I would teach him and it was also THE FIRST TIME I was reading the chapter we were about to discuss! So I would have moments when I would tell myself oops I should’ve read this first so that I know what this means or oops I should’ve prepared images so he can better visualize it. After having those awkward moments a number of times, I became more conscious and started to avoid doing it.
I admit, it usually happened when I felt like we were already late with our lessons. I would just jump right into it with Timmy. Haha! Shortcut! When I was unprepared, I noticed that our lessons took longer than usual because I would research on the spot with him! I mean that’s okay and it also happens even if you’re prepared because sometimes your child really has a lot of questions. But if you do it when you really are not ready to teach then it goes from discovering together to getting distracted together. Big difference.
Messy fun is more fun. The messier the activity is, the more fun your child will have. That’s a 100% guarantee especially when you have boys. Haha! Our science activities are usually messy. One example would be our lesson in studying Mercury’s craters. Following the activity in our Apologia book, Timmy poured a mound of flour, threw pebbles (we used our old aquarium rocks), and measured his craters.
Our activity then evolved to Timmy pretending to touch and walk on Mercury by leaving handprints and footprints on the flour! We then moved to digging the pebbles and discussed archaeology which is our current history topic. Oh, the things you can do with just one activity! c”,) Unit studies for the win! Timmy’s exact words after the activity were, “I want to do this again and again! I want to do it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!” It was so heartwarming that it negated my back ache from cleaning up the flour. Haha!
Was it messy and hard to clean up after? ABSOLUTELY. I made the mistake of doing it indoors. Haha! But will we do it again? DEFINITELY. Over the years, I’ve learned that we had the most fun with the messiest activities. c”,) And because it was super fun for our little guy, we did it again (outdoors this time). Haha! So keep in mind all the messy activities your child enjoys and repeat them! Some kids love slime (my son isn’t a fan), while others love looking at little critters in the soil. For us, we always have vinegar and baking soda in stock because the volcano and bubble fizz experiment never gets old. c”,)
Adjust as life happens.
Timmy’s cousins arrived from Canada last year. We had to put homeschooling on hold for more than a month because of course, family always comes first. c”,) It was his first time to meet them, too! So, we made a conscious decision not to homeschool while they were here. It was important for him to spend as much time with them because they rarely have the chance to visit the Philippines! Good thing we never have to worry about missing classes with homeschooling! c”,)
Towards the end of 2017, I encountered some changes at work that prompted me to change our homeschool schedule. I really didn’t like doing it because we were more than halfway through the school year, we already had a groove, and now I had to change it. At first, I still tried to make it work but I could no longer deny that it was getting difficult for me to homeschool in the morning because of my new workload.
My husband reminded me again, “This is why we homeschool.” It is specifically for situations like this when we need flexibility. So I talked to our son and told him that we would have to homeschool in the afternoon after his nap time. And we made it work with God’s help and the support of our daddy principal. c”,)
Milk the momentum.
Usually, homeschoolers have specific subjects to teach each day. We also did that for the most part. Haha! But when I noticed that Timmy wanted more Astronomy, we did science every single day! And boy, did he have a blast! Earlier in our school year, he really loved his mastery on our math lesson on time so we did more of that. I think the only subject we did consistently every day was our Values/Bible reading and our daily read-alouds. The rest, we either did it as scheduled on certain days or we did one subject for days or in the case of science—months!
Based on my experience, the advantage of milking the momentum is you get the most captive audience. Haha! As a teacher, nothing is more enjoyable than having a fully engaged student. You don’t have to worry about not getting their attention because they really love what they’re learning. c”,) My son would ask questions, he would look forward to our next lesson, and he would study on his own! It doesn’t matter if you finish your curriculum in one month or one year, what matters is you develop a love for learning because it is a life skill they need as they grow up and discover things on their own. c”,)
Don’t obsess over catching up or delays.
I go back to “commit one year at a time.” Filipino is our current Waterloo and I admit, we didn’t finish our entire textbook. However, I can honestly say that Timmy increased his comprehension and knowledge of the language significantly from last year. c”,) He is far from mastering the subject but he loves his Filipino storybooks!
As much as I would want to cram up in one school year the same depth most students have learned in Filipino, I can only commit to what my son can learn in our homeschool year. Quality still trumps quantity. We’d rather take it slow and enjoy learning Filipino than speed it up and finish the entire curriculum with zero retention.
Keep it fun.
Laugh during discussion time! c”,) Okay, not all the time because that can easily get out of control. Haha! I mean enjoy learning together. If the lesson is getting boring (you can see it on their faces), insert a tickle or two to get them back in the game! Be animated! Show excitement the same way you want them to be eager to know more. When our child sees that we have fun teaching them, they will also have fun learning with us! We get the most laughs during our poetry day and story time, of course. c”,)
Our little guy is excited for Grade 2. So am I! I know it will be a wonderful year ahead of us. We’re thrilled to learn new things together! We slowly eased back into our homeschool routine last week and it has been great so far!
It is my prayer that as we commit to homeschool again this year that God will continue to mold me and my son’s character; that He will help us make the most out of this one-year commitment; and that my husband and I will not lose sight of our main goal which is to raise our son to love the Lord, to love others as himself, and to love learning. c”,) Cheers to this new school year! I would’ve gotten a glass of wine if I drink it. Haha! So I’ll grab a mint chocolate instead. c”,)
To check out our kindergarten recap, read here.