Year Three Wrap Up
And that's a wrap on homeschool year 3. Yes, it's mid-April. We school year-round and found ourselves ahead in most things, plus we are ready to get to our summer school classes like nature study, science, art, and lots of reading aloud. Doing year-round school has been great for us over the last three years and allows us to keep our daily schedules light and work around Normal. Plus, the kids don't like the long breaks. Yes, really.
Lily (7th grade) had a great first year of middle school. She loved her co-op classes and friends, as well as our new church's youth group and Sunday School. Basically, friends. 😂 We tried a new language arts curriculum (BraveWriter literature singles - more about this later) this year that turned out to be a highlight for all involved. Turns out, writing and learning grammar can happen without tears, and watching movies can help teach plot and character development.
Lily and I shifted from her literature "class" to a book club format together and it has been so great because I'm getting to read great literature alongside her.
She started Latin this year and had a great list of history books with A Gentle Feast Cycle 4. The biggest leaps I can see now are in her faith and relationships.
Adair was our big fifth grader and you know this is a lovely age to be. We talked a lot about doing hard things, noticing feelings but not living by them, and taking care of ourselves. She also made huge headway with our new language arts curriculum after two years of almost no writing after public school.
Co-op was another highlight for this girl and has such great friends. When she came out of public school we found that she was being scooted along in math without really understanding it, so we have slowly been making progress with that using Teaching Textbooks.
We've found that it's extremely important to keep lessons short and kinesthetic for her, and I try to keep her education pretty self-directed.
Oakley (3rd) trucked right along in third grade this year. After two years of kind of struggling through reading (on my end, we just didn't have the right curriculum to fit me as a teacher and them as students), we hit our stride this year and she made a huge leap in ability. It was so fun, and completely thanks to a friend getting honest and telling me I just needed to be more consistent and push through the hard moments.
Oof. But it paid off. The girl loves to create and I love watching her brain work. She and Coy enjoy doing most of their school together and have listened to hours and hours of audiobooks.
Also, co-op + friends. She is our most shy kid but is never afraid to jump in and try new things and meet new people.
Coy Boy (2nd) also made huge strides in reading this year (Rooted in Language Pinwheels is what we've found and loved for both Oakley and Coy, who are in separate levels) and we learned a lot about his unique learning style. He also really, really loves maps!
I'm so thankful for my co-op mom friends who I can go to with questions and concerns and who will investigate and think and explore things with me. Coy is eager to learn and gives killer narrations.
He loves history and science and co-op and friends. He loves to build and listen to audiobooks. He has the best vocabulary of any eight-year-old I know.
This year, the Momma student read a lot of personal development about keeping our homeschool focused on the most important things for our family. I also challenged myself to try sewing clothing and I found that I love it (I made these skirts - and my teenage daughter WANTED to match me on a co-op day, yes, I've won at life.)
To go along with our history cycle, I read fiction and nonfiction books about World War II, radium, the Manhattan Project (the atomic bomb), Japanese incarceration, and the space race (you guys, Hidden Figures). I read my first Charlotte Mason volume, and have learned so much about our learning style as a family from her and other important homeschool voices like Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mackenzie. I saw exactly how memorizing scripture can bless me. I learned so much at church and we gained new friends and mentors.
As far as #socialization goes, we hit that pretty hard this year. 4H bb gun and archery, gymnastics, children's theater, talking to other humans while out and about, field trips, close relationships with the kids' grandparents, and more all contributed to making sure our children don't turn into those awkward homeschool types.
We all loved our co-op and the weekly three-hour round-trip drives were rough but worth it because we learned to bear with one another and inhaled audiobooks. The friends we've made are sure to be lifelong ones, mom and kids alike. The kids have learned about cool things like spies, life skills, Benjamin Franklin, watercolor, Ukraine, and Shakespeare, and I stretched myself in teaching a "hard" class about Ukraine, as well as assisting the watercolor teacher for all three levels.
Our leadership group does an incredible job and I appreciate getting to be a part of an organization with people with similar values in both education and faith.
Morning time continues to be our most important subject where I plug in family learning and bible study, which Josh joined us for almost every day. We discovered Corrie ten Boom and other incredible missionaries this year, and Christian missionary stories have become an important part of our read-aloud lives. This year I heard Sally Clarkson say on a podcast that (I'm paraphrasing here) just about anyone can get into college, but kids leave their faith in droves after they leave home, so faith needs to be the most important subject we "teach." That thought has come up many times as I wonder if I'm doing enough, if I'm doing the right thing here or there, or if my kids are "on track." I can say that we're doing our best to live out our faith and include our children in it, and I'm thankful for such a great co-teacher and husband.
Outside of traditional (home)school subjects, we explored embroidery this year, which was such a gift! I knew how to do it, but this year I learned from the lovely Lisa Hajda more about it and was equipped to teach my kids this handicraft.
We also tried paper mache, birdwatching (more of that coming in summer school), brush drawing, and lots of collage.
All of the girls learned to sew, Oakley started quilting, and all of the kids learned more in the kitchen and life skills like laundry and how to clean a bathroom. We had a whole term of science about chickens.
I never expected to homeschool, much less enjoy it or our kids so much. It has taken sacrifice, especially this year as we have pulled me more out of work in order to pour more into our children at the same time our family needed to increase our income (me pulling out of Normal doesn't affect our income, but when compared to two-income families, it seems silly to outsiders). The world is telling us we need more, but when I'm home and in my rightful place, the Lord blesses us left and right.