As we wind down our school year, I wanted to assess what worked for us and what didn't.
Getting up before my kids! It is impossible to overstate the difference this has made in our homeschooling and life in general. I've been getting up to pray and read the Bible and just get myself going before the commotion starts. Little Man, especially, hits the ground running in the morning. It helps to be prepared.
Workboxes. They definitely give our day the structure the kids need and that I have trouble providing otherwise. (I'm just not a structured kind of girl.) We use a lot of fun things that wouldn't get pulled out otherwise AND we get more done during the day. I don't feel the need to always fill all of the boxes and I think that helps me not to slip into just filling them with busywork.
Pre-K first. Sitting down and doing fun "school work" with Little Man first helps to fill his little tank. He is MUCH more likely to play independently once he's had some Mommy time.
YouTube. Adding YouTube videos to our studies was a huge hit. It was especially effective in teaching hymns. It probably goes without saying that I pre-screen all videos before showing them to the boys.
Stick Figure Bible Study. We've used Bible Study Guide for All Ages this year and each lesson has a page of stick figure people illustrating the story. They loved this! We have a Wii, an iPod and various other technology in this house and my kids loved the stick men. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and be thankful.
Read-Aloud time on the couch. One of the great blessings of homeschooling.
Lapbooks. We'll have to include more of these next year. Z-Man loves showing people the finished product and they provide great review!
Having a loose schedule for the entire year. Just enough so I know what's next but can still be flexible when needed.
What Didn't Work:
Taking days off because Mommy didn't get her act together to plan out our day. Ugh. This is fine every once in a while, but these days tend to multiply, especially if they occur in the beginning of the week. It's hard to get the boys back on track after an unexpected vacation day because they tend to think the next day should be the same. And the next, and the next...
Math. We used Saxon this year and it worked in that learning occurred but it was a huge struggle. I don't want the mere mention of math to cause dread and resignation or, worse, whining and complaining. I'm still looking into alternatives for fourth grade next year.
Busyness. Weeks where we had something scheduled every day were just too much for all of us. I want to be more judicious about what we say yes to in the future.
Some of the Dave and Neta Jackson books about missionaries. Don't get me wrong - they are great books. I couldn't put some of them down. But I also couldn't show them to my eight-year-old. He's a really sensitive kid. They might not be a problem for a lot of kids his age.
Hopefully this little exercise will help me as I plan next year's studies. But first - our summer fun camps! There will be a sports theme this year, at the boys' request. More on that very soon!