I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since we started homeschooling! Doing what we do is not always easy – there are days where I am tired, cranky, and want nothing more than to give in and let my kids play video games all day, but those moments are fleeting. Homeschooling is one of the most rewarding things we do as parents, and I would not trade these past few years with my kids for anything!
Suffice it to say, the past 1.5 years have been a doozy with COVID-19 and the shutdown. Our homeschool life changed dramatically, but not for the worse. Instead, I feel like it has gotten even better and I wanted to share some of the lessons we have learned this past school year.
3 Things We Learned to Do
Slow down, like way down.
We grasped the importance of being more present and enjoying our moments together rather than zipping around from one activity to another. We took time to dive deeper into only a handful of topics instead of covering several at the same time. We spent more time focusing on the fundamentals to form a solid educational foundation. And we really thought about where we wanted to spend our time and money.
Discovered new curriculum and resources we enjoyed
I’m always on the lookout for new curricula that meet both my needs and my children’s, which is hard to find and why I usually create my own unit studies.
However, over the years, I’ve realized that pretty curriculum doesn’t always mean good, straightforward doesn’t mean boring, and I don’t have to use the whole curriculum as directed. Instead, it can just be another reference book for me to generate ideas from.
We really loved using California Out of the Box by Carrier Shell Curriculum. We didn’t begin the program until January and missed the online classes Christine offers in conjunction with the curriculum. Since we didn’t feel the need to keep up, we slowed down and took our time with the first unit. We didn’t do all the activities outlined, and we made sure to go on lots of field trips that aligned with what we were studying.
Even though I personally love grammar, I wasn’t looking forward to teaching it, hence why we used Mad Libs for the past 4+ years.
Enter Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts Curriculum. We didn’t use the whole program but instead used his first two grammar books: Poodle Knows What? and Poodle and the Blue Mountain Monster. My kids loved the books, they were a fun way to learn grammar, and I highly recommend the series if your kids are between the ages of 6-9 and have quirky humor like mine.
Do you know how hard it is to find a secular homeschool science curriculum that makes me happy? Like 4 years hard.
When we first started homeschooling, we used REAL Science Odyssey Level 1. There’s nothing wrong with the program, but the drawings were a bit too cutesy for me, and I prefer to avoid workbooks when possible. Notebooks and lab books make my heart flutter.
Then I learned about Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU), which is rigorous and affordable but not easy for me to read and unpack. I need easy. Homeschooling, wrangling a toddler and starting a business already have me stretched thin.
Thankfully I came across Scientific Connections through Inquiry in one of those Facebook homeschool groups. The curriculum itself is inspired by BFSU and is basically an updated, streamlined, simplified, and accessible version. It makes my eyes happy.
My kids love reading magazines, and I love anything that’s carefully thought out and well-designed. So when I kept seeing ads for Honest History, I decided to jump the gun and order a subscription. I wish I had done it sooner! The magazines are so awesome. Each issue is focused on one topic, they’re well-researched, and the illustrations appeal to my kids and me.
And I finally found time for myself (homeschooling isn’t just about the kids, yo!)
Remember when I wrote that article on habits? Yeah, I used myself as a guinea pig first. I started with a subscription to Teacher Fit and committed to exercise every morning, Monday through Friday. Once that became routine, I habit stacked yoga on top of it and then eventually added cardio as well.
I’ve also forced myself (ala Mel Robin’s 5-Second Rule) to wash my face every night and to actually take steps to start the business that has been sitting in the back of my head for the past decade.
It really feels good to take care of myself and pursue my interests. My cup is full and I’m able to fill my kids’ as well.
1 Thing We Need to Work On
But not all have been hunky-dory this year. I realized that I failed to teach my eldest son how to write. He’s been hard at work learning how to write legibly, but he found it quite challenging to write a short essay when it came time for state testing.
So the plan for next year is to spend more time on writing. I prefer to have my son work on his writer’s voice, but I do plan on sprinkling in some writing formats here and there.
And one more thing.
I am proud to say that we totally failed at meeting exceptionally high expectations and keeping up with the homeschool Joneses this school year. I really learned to let go and accept who we are as people and where we are in this season of life. We really couldn’t be happier about it!
Drop a line down in the comments and let me know your “Three Good Things” from this last school.
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w7, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.