An Overview of Our First Homeschooling Year: What Worked & What We Failed At

If you read my announcement back in August, you already know we are homeschoolers. I wanted to offer a quick summarized update – from our mission and vision, to what works, what didn’t work, and big hurdles. I’ve broken it down into sections for quicker reference.

Our Mission and Vision

My husband and I are dedicated to offering a Christ-centered, personalized academic experience that places Jesus at the center of everything, acknowledging the Bible as our ultimate authority, and training lifelong disciples of Christ. We are committed to offering a home environment that prepares our children to serve faithfully in God’s world and equip them for a lifetime of learning, leadership, and worship for the Glory of God.

Our hope is that our children will be Christ-centered learners who are knowledgable, imaginative, wise, and creative. We hope they will be Christ-centered leaders who can engage in the community and collaborate with others. We hope that they will be Christ-centered servants who are stewardly, compassionate, and worshipful.

The scripture verse we chose to embody these homeschooling beliefs is Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strengths and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.

Tracking & Assessment Periods

I personally always disliked the idea of a 3-month long break from education. I understand breaks are important, but I also remember forgetting absolutely everything I learned every single summer. There are no extended periods of pausing learning in real life, learning is lifelong. Instead, we follow a traditional year-round homeschooling schedule.

I found year-long schooling takes some pressure off of us, as legally, we have to record 875 hours or instruction in our state. We have implemented a grading/assessment period of 6 week. Every 6 weeks, we reassess the positives and negatives of the past weeks and we use the 7th week for vacation time, a lighter schedule, made-up days, and field trips. The assessments aren’t really necessary with a young child, but I can see the importance in later years and we’ve kept the schedule for habit forming.

At this time, we do not give out formal grades. Our weekly schoolwork planner and hours tracker consists of evaluation of character and effort instead. I have strong opinions on the public school grading system.

For our schoolwork planner and hours tracker, I made it myself. It lists the subjects we are doing, the seven days of the week, blank space for dates & week tracker, area to write time spent in a subject, character evaluation, and schoolwork planner/tracking section. I printed enough for the year and added it to our 2021-2022 school binder. You can view or download for your own use below:

Our Weekly Schedule

I’ve personally found a modernized Charlotte Mason inspired homeschooling education fits our learning styles and interests. We are still fine tuning what works for us, but here’s what’s been working.

Every day, no matter what, these are the learning topics that have to be completed:
-Math
-Bible
-Reading & Copywork

The rest of the topics of are alternating days. Following the completion of the topics above, here’s what we do:

Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays we focus on History, Health/exercise, and ASL.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we focus on science, piano, and art.

Thanks to our pursuit of the Charlotte Mason style of educating, many of our alternating subjects can end up being fulfilled through our mandatory daily requirements. Many homeschoolers suggest unit studies like Gather Round curriculum.

Our Curriculum

  1. Simply K by Masterbooks (light study of the Bible, rhyming, and ABC’s) In the future, I wouldn’t do this one again, though it did help gain confidence in home education.
  2. God’s Design for Life for Beginners (science) We enjoy this, but it’s turning out to be a spine book. In order to make it feel like a true science day, I have to coordinate with other games, activities, and books from the library for it to be complete otherwise it’s just a page of reading and a basic activity.
  3. Math Lessons for a Living Education (math) This is greatly enjoyed by my son and I enjoy it simply because it’s helped create a habit, but in fall we will be switching curriculum.
  4. Christian Light (variety of topics) Christian Light Curriculum was one of the first things we bought for our homeschooling pursuit. I found that it fell a little flat for younger children, but looking at all of their subjects, I can see using them years down the road. The best part was the price point.
  5. Handwriting without Tears is used occasionally, but it’s not a main curriculum.
  6. Hooked on Phonics was a great resource, but we paused it while we are using something else
  7. ASD Reading is a gift from God right now highly recommend!
  8. ASL flashcards
  9. Learn How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons was recommended by many, and I understand the appeal. However, I started pushing the lessons before my son was ready.
  10. Ambelsideonline.com
  11. Khan Academy Kids, which we use rarely because that requires phone use
  12. Bob Reader Books

I’ll create another post in fall with updated curriculum choices, but as we are preparing now, we are considering BiblioPlan for history, Math-U-See, Masterbooks for Language Arts, and Ambleside Online for reading, music, and art. We are currently trying to settle on a new science curriculum, but may stick with nature study instead.

Social Aspect

I feel this has to be included as an obligation to those with outdated views of homeschooling. We are a part of a homeschool co-op, a homeschool group, and attend multiple social outings with traditional schoolers and homeschoolers.

Hurdles

Most of our hurdles were mental, aside from getting into a good routine that worked for us.

I personally struggled a lot with what people’s opinions were. My husband was and is proud and confident in saying, “We homeschool”, while I struggled to get the words out…or downright lied. I don’t enjoy hearing negative critique or opinions when I haven’t been able to find my confidence yet. If I’m just learning techniques on watercolors, and someone gives a negative comment, I am prone to falling into horrible self-critiquing. It eats at me and self-doubt creeps in quickly. I am scared to be the main educator of my children and negativity only fuels that. I felt the same way when I was pregnant and when just becoming a mother. It took a while before I felt confident enough to speak up on how I wanted my children raised.

I also struggled with not following what the public school is doing or recommending.

My son already dances to the beat of his own drum and has delayed milestones, I’m not going to fret over if he’s behind or ahead of his peers in other ways. I personally had a college reading level in the 6th grade, but I could hardly do addition without using my fingers. My sister struggles in the subjects I exceed in, and her greatest pursuit is science. The point of homeschooling is to have an individualized education, and the best thing I did for my son was remove the milestone dates. If he needs to go slower in certain subjects, I’d rather have him not struggling to keep the pace of his peers. The point of education is to be educated, not to race or compete. If my 3rd grade self could have gone slower in math basics, I may have not found myself so math deficient as an adult. If my father-in-law was allowed to slow down during language arts, perhaps he would enjoy reading more as an adult.

There’s a lot more to say on the topic, let me know if there’s anything you are interested in hearing more about by leaving a comment.

In His Name,
Samantha

Published by Samantha Sali

Image-bearer. Jesus-seeker. Wife. Mother. Writer. Artist.

One thought on “An Overview of Our First Homeschooling Year: What Worked & What We Failed At

  1. Oh wow. I know nothing about homeschooling, yet it’s a fascinating subject for me, as sometimes I wonder what’s going on in the public education system (especially here in Malaysia). Anyway, thanks for sharing!

    Like

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