Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Making Changes Next Year

We are done with our fourth year of homeschooling!

The girls each finished one level of Teaching Textbooks, Writing Strands Levels 3 & 4, various plans we made up for Biology and Earth Science.  They read books and wrote book reports.  They kept up with Current Events.  They redecorated their bedrooms on a budget and they came out great!

This was a tough year for us and I definitely feel we could have done more.  But I have to forgive myself and move on and make plans to try harder next time.  After all, I had surgery this year and my father-in-law passed away this year and there were a lot of emotions going on.

In the past we schooled all year.  This year the girls were begging for a "real" summer and I have decided to honor that request.  There were a lot of emotional things this year and we all need a break.

I have been thinking carefully about what I want to do differently next year.  Allie will be entering high school and although I don't find myself getting as concerned about record-keeping and levels of work (my experience with homeschooling has been that as long as we keep progressing and improving at our own pace everything works out).  We are not unschoolers, but we are not very regimented homeschoolers either.  Our experience is that homeschooling has been very dynamic and what works one month may not work the next and we keep adjusting to it.  Sometimes workbooks are great, other times interest-led research on WWII or small pets fills our time; sometimes we follow a curriculum, other times we make it up as we go along.

Some of the things, however, that I do want to change are:

  1. Progress Reports - Piper actually asked me for a Report Card at the end of this year.  She wanted to know how she was doing.  We sat and talked about it, but she STILL wanted something in writing.  So, I created a Progress Report so she can see where is doing well and where she needs improvement.  After working on her Progress Report I made one for Allie and we decided we would do this quarterly.
  2. Grades - This year we did A LOT of writing.  The girls would write a paper in Google Docs, share it with me, I would edit with strikethroughs and notations in different color type and write a detailed reaction, they would edit the paper, I would go over it again, they would work on it more...and back and forth until we were all satisfied with the paper.  Now that I feel the girls have an idea of how an "A" paper reads, I expect them to do this on their own.  I will edit, make notations, etc. and also provide a grade.  I think it's good preparation for college.  Don't hand in a "C" paper if you want an "A".  I don't want that first grade in college to be a shock.
  3. More Vocabulary - I believe strongly that reading helps build vocabulary and grammar and writing skills.  I do feel as though my girls have a good vocabulary and Allie uses a Thesaurus when writing to use bigger and better workds, but moving into college prep track this is an area that needs improvement.  I am looking into different options.