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Thursday, May 12, 2016

School's Out For Summer! (A Homeschool Wrap Up Post)

The finish line is in sight. Tomorrow will be our last day of school for Elijah! Woo hoo!! Cue the parade and throw some confetti up in the air for good measure.

We survived. There were delightful days and there were dreadful days. Mostly our days flitted from misery to mundane to magnificent. I am getting the picture from other homeschooling moms that that's pretty normal.

It was not the idyllic year I had aspirations it would be. There were tears (his and mine) over reading books. There were arguments and bribery to get work done. After Christmas break, Jude dropped his nap and things got really messy. Suddenly I had a toddler on the loose all morning, intent on destroying everything my big kids were working on in the schoolroom. Truthfully, it has been hard most days.

BUT - Elijah can read. That's a pretty big deal for me, so I'm going to say it again. Elijah is reading. He could read this sentence without trouble. He could even spell most of the words in the previous sentence nearly correctly. I can't even express how HUGE that has been for us. I started the year off with 6 year old who had trouble consistently sounding out words like can, bad and stop. This now 7 year old still doesn't like to read, but he can. And for a mama who considers herself a bibliophile, that has been a bitter pill to swallow. It has been a learning process for the both of us. For me, accepting that I need to lower my expectations and for him to fight through something that doesn't come easily.

As a family we read, read, read. Roald Dahl was a favorite this year. We read James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Great Glass Elevator and the B.F.G. We finished two more Little House on the Prairie books, leaving us with just the last book in the series to go! We read the first Harry Potter book and started in on the Boxcar Children series just this month.

We sped through the first grade Singapore Math curriculum and finished in April. I don't think I spent enough time appreciating that it came easily. Personally, I loved figuring out how best to communicate the concepts of number families, regrouping and multiplication to E.

We discovered the Ancient world, from the early civilization of Mesopotamia to the fall of the Roman Empire. We tried our hand at writing hieroglyphics, built siege towers out of Legos and created a working aqueduct model to bring our knowledge of Roman engineering to life. Our schoolroom is now decorated with a timeline that covers the perimeter of the room documenting our knowledge.

We visited the Georgia Aquarium, went to the Chattahoochee Nature Center and toured the Atlanta Zoo all this fall during our study of the animal kingdom. During our study of the human body we used bread to discover what happens inside our digestive system- a graphic lesson I don't think me or the kids will ever forget! We planted seeds and learned a lot about (how to kill) plants during our spring-time study of all things green. (I'm truly grateful my mother-in-law has been able to teach them how to actually grow a plant.)

Most importantly there was so much play. So many hours spent in pretend castles, role-playing family and heroes and re-enacting their favorite story lines again and again. On nice days we went to the park, on cold days we sat with our books in front of the fire.

We had time to lay in the grass and watch clouds move across the sky. We had time to visit my grandmother during the final months of her life. We were able to leave on a dime and go on a "field trip" to Greenville SC when BJ had to travel for work. Slowing down to enjoy these moments with the kids does not come naturally to me, so for us homeschooling has been a gift. In a 12 hour day at home, I end up snatching a few priceless minutes with each child just because there's so much time on our hands.

So yes, we will be staying at home again next year. I'll have a Kindergartener and a 2nd grader, a pre-Ker and a 2 year old. Let the summer fun begin!

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