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Five Things I'm Taking Forward in our Homeschool

I wrote two weeks ago about how our first year of homeschooling went, and I thought it would be nice to dwell on the things that went well enough to keep doing next year, Based on all of the Facebook homeschool groups, this is the time of year when mommas are making big changes, and while I'm also doing that, I think it would be easier to appreciate what I've learned and my homeschool budget would have a bit of a break if I was simply happy with some things.

Overall, we're changing a lot. If you read my post about last year, you know we started with all textbooks and workbooks, which is fine for some, but we found it's not for us. Next year we are leaning hard into an eclectic Charlotte Mason style education after playing with it this year, and we're all excited about it. Looking back, we wouldn't have been ready for it a year ago so I'm thankful for what we did.

But there are a few things that worked extremely well for this first time homeschooling family, and here are the things we're taking forward into our second year of home education with a sixth grader, fourth grader, second grader, and first grader.

1. Notebooks.

My kids love recording what they've learned. Most of the time, we just draw a picture and caption it, but it's their favorite part of the day and I love getting to look back at how far their drawing has come in a year and how much more they're noticing in books, nature, and all around them.

We've used a couple different notebooks this year, the Anna Vance notebooks being our very favorites, but they're a bit more expensive and the wait time is longer. We didn't use all of our history notebooks (shown above) last year, so we will just continue history in those same notebooks. The quality (the coils, paper, covers are all amazing!) is absolutely outstanding, and I love supporting a small business run by a homeschooling family.

We also just got Lily a Commonplace Journal from Schoolnest and I'm planning on getting each kid one of her grade level notebooks for their general doodling and drawing and notes for all other subjects. And with studying weather as an informal year-long unit study, I love that their Science Notebooks also have a temperature tracker in them!

2. Nature study.

Nature study has been like balm on a wound over the last year. When we're all feeling a little crazy or easily annoyed, we go take a hike and then come record what we saw. It's been everyone's favorite part of homeschooling and we will continue to make it a priority. I wrote about our science/nature study curriculum choice and how much we loved it here.

3. Outsourcing.

In our business, I'm constantly preaching this message, and I realized pretty late in the year that I needed to take some of my own advice and apply this to our homeschool. In this season of life, outsourcing looks like online math and homeschool co-ops. In future seasons, it might look differently for each kid and life stage.

We made the decision to start Adair with Teaching Textbooks for math after she had to go back an entire year in that subject to review before hitting her current grade level (though we're not huge on staying on "grade level" but learning what we need to learn). I needed something easy for me, since I'm not a math person, that she wouldn't absolutely hate, and Teaching Textbooks checks all of the boxes for us. She loves math now, and often does it before we even start morning time. We actually switched Lily this week as well and it feels good to have my least favorite subject taken care of for half of my kids.

4. Planned lunches.

When the kids quit public school, I asked what lunches they were getting there that they would like for me to recreate ( at home, and mac and cheese was the top answer. Mac and Cheese Monday was born, then on Tuesdays the kids started going to their grandparents' for lunch and swimming (PE!), Wednesdays became Weanie Wednesday (some kind of sausage or mini weanies, often a meat and cheese charcuterie board), Sandwich Thursdays, and Leftover Fridays. It helped us to get in to a rhythm and I had easy meals that kids could prep while I schooled another kid.

5. Presentation nights.

The kids spent a month with a family friend doing a human body unit study in January, and afterwards we held a night for them to tell us all about what they learned. Each one came home with a full-body drawing of themselves with their organs and veins and muscles and bones illustrated, and they all loved pointing out their favorite parts. Daddy and I sat on the couch and they stood up to present, the pride evident on their faces. We loved it, they loved it.

What are you taking forward? What are you leaving behind? What has been your big win this year? I think it's so helpful to look back at these things while making decisions on starting the next thing, even if it's not homeschooling.

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