Though not always easy or perfect, I would call our PK-4 school year the “year we found our groove.” For any teacher, I think the first year isn’t easy. I look back at my first year teaching high school and think I remember more mistakes that I made than actual success stories. In a different way, my first year teaching Aria (PK-3 year) was not as successful as I would hope just because I was also balancing a 6 month old, breastfed child who required lots of attention when she was awake. I, of course, also had no idea what I was doing and wasn’t well organized until the second semester when Jessica really helped me realize that well prepared lesson plans really make or break a week, at least in my household. This year, it was wonderful to see Skylar get just as invested in some of our lessons as Aria, and it also made teaching much easier, as I wasn’t waiting until Skylar went down for a nap time to do school work with Aria. Additionally, I learned how to better search for ideas each week to make sure that all core materials are covered and have learned how to find the best sales and deals on school materials.
I think the thing I’m most blessed with when it comes to homeschooling is that my girls both truly love doing school related activities. Aria loves (most of) the thematic units, and each morning she asks me what we are going to learn about for the day. She is also extremely responsive to workbook materials and has become passionate about trying to read to me. Both of my girls also love to do artwork, which is really quite wonderful. I can set up crafts for them and they will both be focused for a few minutes to almost an hour working together, depending on the activity. I’m really lucky that my girls absolutely love each other and that Skylar wants to do whatever Aria does. Skylar has picked up so much from Aria this year and her speech levels are far above what her sister’s were at this age. Even potty training worked easier with her because natural school breaks were easy reminders to take her to the potty. (Yes, my awesome 2 year old is potty trained!). When Aria was busy doing things that Skylar couldn’t do, such as letters and numbers, Skylar was always happy to sit and do abcmouse.com or an activity I set out for her. Thank goodness for easier second children! Definitely made the balancing of the two girls far easier.
The year was not always a success, and I would argue that many of the things that didn’t work for us as a whole were due to my lack of motivation or organization. I’ve learned that going forward I need a math and literacy program to help me because I’m not good at keeping myself on track enough with that. I make sure to cover everything with each thematic unit, but I find myself far more motivated to do the art and science activities than the literacy or math, which means that Aria senses my lack of excitement and she loses motivation. Or Skylar distracts me with what she needs and we don’t have enough time to complete everything. There are some units that weren’t successful because I didn’t love them, such as our sports unit, but I will stick it out next year and try and better myself because I think a sports unit is good exercise and necessary learning experience for the girls. There were some units that didn’t work, like my Around the World culture and animal units, but they led me to understand I need to spend a week focused on each continent next year. I’m actually really looking forward to that!
One of the hardest struggles as a homeschool mom I had this year was feeling like a failure at times when seeing what other kids know or have done that I don’t yet have Aria up to speed on. I felt disappointed in myself when I realized Aria needed speech therapy because I wondered if I should have just talked to her more and if it was my fault for not putting her around other kids in a preschool (luckily, she is doing really well in those and is very self motivated to speak better). When I had to make a decision on if I wanted to try and do kindergarten or Pre-k 5/K next year (my daughter is an October birthday and therefore technically not old enough for Kindergarten), it became an easy decision when I realized how hard I was being on myself. I needed to give Aria and I time. She is very smart, very self-motivated, and loves learning, but I decided to see how she does next year and let her have fun and be little a little a bit longer. The best part of homeschooling is that we can self pace, and if she excels at kindergarten level phonics, writing, reading, and math next year, there isn’t anyone to tell me I can’t move her onto 1st grade stuff the next year! If she needs more time to prepare for kindergarten level work, we can stop and go back to preschool material and get stronger at that before moving forward.
I really can’t wait for the next year to begin. I’m so ready for the summer break to relax, rejuvenate, and not have to lesson plan for a bit, but I also am full of ideas for how to make next year an even better year for all of us. Pre-K 4 was such a great mix of fun and learning, and I have so many amazing memories from our lessons this year, but I look forward with so much hope and excitement for a much more successful Pre-K 5/K for Aria!
What worked best for Aria (and me) this year:
What didn’t work for Aria (and me) this year:
Please keep comments contructive
Jessica and Ana
Our Homeschooling Mission Statement: We will strive to be patient, godly examples to our children, integrating biblical principles and morality into every subject. Learning should be fun. We will foster an attitude of lifelong curiosity and play while providing the best possible education we can through books, art, technology, food, tactile activities, and cultural experiences. Learning will not be dictated by hours on a clock but will be a way of life for our families.