Friday, May 6, 2011

10 Things We'll Do Differently Next Year (Part 4 of 4)

As we end our first year of homeschooling, I have been reflecting on changes I will make next year.

I knew there was a learning curve this year and I am sure that I will continue to learn as I go next year, but starting out, here is what I will do differently:
  1. Not spend time creating lesson plans; I will look ahead a few chapters and purchase supplies or put holds on additional reading materials when necessary.  I may brainstorm some projects to do as well.
  2. Say "yes" to more playdates and field trips.  This year, I declined a lot of things because I was so afraid we would lose focus on our academics.  We finished our history in five months and I feel we really did it justice and really dug in our teeth where we were interested.  
  3. We use (& LOVE) Story of the World.  Unfortunately, I did not use the questions & summaries in the Activity Guide to our full advantage.  I have already purchased 2 inch binders for each girl.  I will copy all of the maps and coloring pages, etc. in the back of the Activity Guide for Vol. 2 before we start History again.  My plan is to ask the girls the questions at the end of each section, have them give me a summary and have them write that summary on notebook paper in their History Binder.  
  4. I am considering having the girls copy the summaries in Vol. 1 on notebook paper to put in the History Binder for copywork and so that they each end up with a wonderful chronological history book to keep.
  5. I have found what works for us and what doesn't.  We have found math programs that work for us.  I have decided Susan Wise Bauer is my soul sister and I will definitely give a lot of attention to-if not actually purchase-all of her curriculum and fantasize about my girls going to William & Mary and having her as a professor.  I am thrilled to have the opportunity to take a two day workshop with her this spring!
  6. I know what supplies we need for next year.  Last year I just went nuts and bought a lot of everything when they had those crazy back to school sales where everything is a dime.  This year, I know we need a World Map (we've been using a small freebie that came with a magazine subscription).  We need a 3 hole punch and tons of looseleaf paper.  I will buy notebooks because my kids have a thing for notebooks, they use them as diaries and journals, they write songs and plays in them, they write stories and make lists in them.  I will buy more Expos and pencils and erasable pens.  
  7. I have learned from other homeschool mom that you don't have to do everything all the time.  We will take some time off now, although I am sure the learning won't stop!  In a few weeks, when we feel ready we will begin our new term: Science & Latin, Math & Daily Grams.  When we finish the Science, we will take another break and then do a History & Writing with Ease, Math & Spanish (or more Latin) term.
  8. I plan to have more reading days.  We love to sit and get lost in a book.  I think part of the reason my girls are the readers they are is because we seldom watch TV, we all cuddle up in Jason & my bed with our books and read for hours.  My girls think of reading as a snuggle, safe, cozy, warm, happy time.  What is not to love?
  9. I don't feel like I rushed a lot this year.  I feel like, for the most part, I gave everything the attention it deserved and gave the girls time to digest things before we moved on.  I think this is important.
  10. We did three read-alouds: Little Women, the Odyssey and Lightning Thief.  Audiobooks didn't work for us, we like to sing along to the radio in the car and we are too busy and going in different directions at home.  I would like to do more read-alouds next year and use the Drawn Into the Heart of Reading worksheets with them.