This is our first year homeschooling, and our theme is turning out to be that Pivot GIF from Friends. I wanted to add my voice to the homeschool blogging world because I feel like we have a unique situation that isn't talked about a lot, with us owning a business together and me being a working mom. It's out there, it's happening, but when I was looking up how to make this working homeschool mom thing work, there were like three blog posts on Pinterest about it.
Our decision to homeschool came after COVID hit and the kids were sent home, and I found that I liked teaching them and that I could do it. I missed being home with them, so we spent the summer figuring out how to homeschool while running a business, and what curriculum would work best for us, and how to organize it at home, and who we could bring on to help us make this happen. We were expanding our business significantly at the time, so ease of use was very important to me, and my number one priority in our first homeschool year was fostering a connection with my kids.
In April, I ordered all of our curricula because I didn't know what the year would look like for curriculum companies and I wanted to have it all secured before the school started. Our family was so excited to start that we started our year at the beginning of July.
I chose textbooks and workbooks from Master Books because I thought that would be the easiest and the smoothest transition because that's what they did in public school.
By July, I had ditched the life science curriculum and the workbook pages and experiments, and we started visiting a local pond a few times a week and drawing or painting our findings. I found a science curriculum by Simply Charlotte Mason that the kids were interested in that I could do with all of them at once. I added books and projects for Lily because it's geared more towards grades 1-3, but it felt like putting on comfortable clothes. Like it just fit. The kids asked to do science every day. We invested in sketchbooks for nature study and new water bottles for adventuring.
We were limping along with the Social Studies and American History curriculum, but no one loved it. Lily, not even knowing anything about the Charlotte Mason style of education, told me one day "I wish I could just read good books and learn from those for school." Um, I hear you, sister. We ditched Oak and Coy's social studies curriculum and the worksheets for American History. We happened to find a great Scholastic book about the Mayflower and used it to replace that unit in the history book. We loved it so much that I purchased the next one we needed.
I found myself digging in and researching Charlotte Mason education, and comparing all of the ready-made plans out there such as Simply Charlotte Mason, Ambleside Online, and A Gentle Feast. I'd still definitely call ourselves eclectic homeschoolers, but the more I dug in, the more I knew it was where we needed to be. I decided on A Gentle Feast because it combines grades for science as much as possible, it had a four year history stream (which means they basically cover all of history in four years, rather than six with other plans), and it just felt so approachable. I'll write more on A Gentle Feast as we prep for the year, but I knew at that point it was the right move.
I purchased their Cycle 2 Morning Time plans because I felt a little scattered in that area and thought it would be a good introduction. I was packing our Morning Time too full and it was taking us hours, and this helped us keep it simple and hit the fun things!
I purchased our Cycle 3 Morning Time plans, the Cycle 3 plans, and the language arts packets we would need for next year on Black Friday. Already having discovered the magic of Thriftbooks, I got right to work and ordered almost all we needed for next year.
We finished the first half of our school year the Friday before Thanksgiving, and at supper, we had an open discussion about the first half of our first year homeschooling.
What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
Coy: "Mostly math!"
Oakley: "Sleeping in and not having to go anywhere first thing in the morning."
Adair: "Having a teacher like my mother."
Lily: "We don't have the pressure of AR goals, but I get to read as much as I want."
Mom: "Getting to hang out with my kids all day."
Dad: "Watching the kids learn new things."
What is your least favorite thing about homeschooling?
Coy: "All of it is my favorite."
Adair: "Not seeing friends very often."
Lily: "You can't keep enough books in the house for me because I read too fast."
Dad: "The mess and constant craft mess."
What are you looking forward to about homeschooling?
Coy: "Learning about maps and presidents."
Oakley: "Making lots of crafts."
Adair: "Not Back To School Day with the Miihlbachs."
Lily: "Going to Mommo and Papa's and learning more about cooking from Papa."
Mom: "Field trips!"
Dad: "Teaching life skills and having more time for creating great learning experiences."
What am I changing as we move forward?
I feel like I've tweaked things as needed for the first half of the year and I feel like we're in a really good rhythm. After we went from shelving/bins for storing the kids' school things to each kid keeping everything in a three-tiered cart, we found a groove for keeping things organized and close at hand, but also able to be put away when not in use.
We do need a bit of a refresh on chores, since we just have more time for them, there's more that the kids can help me with. Who else needs help with this? Not gunna lie, the momma needs a refresh on chores too. Yikes.
My main feelings about our first half of the year?
It went worlds better than I ever imagined. It wasn't as hard as I expected. I went into the year prioritizing building new relationships with my children, and apparently, that was the correct mentality. I've said before that God changed my heart towards my kids, and I'll be forever grateful. I was terrified to teach anyone to read, but it's been no big deal. Apparently, when you read a lot, they catch on super quick! I've learned a couple of tricks for turning around a rough day: tea time, reading aloud, and getting outside, and I've learned they're much more capable than I gave them credit for.
I'm excited for our next semester, but loving our break. We've settled into a bit of a rhythm with mom working a bit more because #workinghomeschoolmomlife but also reading a lot more, watching more family movies, making more fun snacks, and more sleeping in.