I homeschooled all four of my kids last year and it sorta kicked my butt. (Hence no blog posts for months on end.) Some days were straight out of a dream and a few days were out of a nightmare. However, most days were somewhere in between usually with beautiful mornings and a little more stressful afternoons. The nights were nice because we didn’t have to worry about homework. We could just enjoy our extra curricular activities with nothing looming over our heads.
Overall, we had a great experience, and I will never regret spending more time with my children. I did the math and I figured, in one year, I got to spend over 1000 extra hours with my kids! That is a sobering and powerful statistic for me. That number alone gives me confidence to continue.
Although we are almost done with this year, I wanted to remember the learning highlights from last year.
Here are my top 5 homeschooling highlights of our 2014 – 2015 school year:
1. U.S. State Post Card Exchange. We were able to be a part of a post card exchange group. We found out about it through one of the homeschooling sites on Facebook. We wrote five Utah postcards a month and sent them out to five different states. In return, we got five different postcards from five different states each month for 10 months. The exchange gave my kids a chance to learn and write about Utah history, the importance of legible handwriting, and being a reliable team member. And of course, they learned many interesting facts about other states as well. Our postcard exchange made Geography and checking the mail much more fun.
2. Family Proclamation. We memorized The Family: A Proclamation to the World — one paragraph or phrase a week. The memorization opened up into vocabulary and writing lessons as well as ethics and values discussions. We also used the text to practice cursive writing. Not to mention the kids’ brains were filled with good, uplifting messages to help push out some of the junk we all are exposed to now. I don’t think anyone of us can say the proclamation perfectly from beginning to end, but I hope the message of the proclamation is written in their hearts.
3. Field Trips. We went all over the place from local businesses to national monuments. We toured a local bakery, grocery store, and home technology business. We participated in space camp and attended the Utah symphony. Many field trips were to supplement our History lessons like the Golden Spike National Monument, the Pioneer Museum, and our state capitol building. Others were to help our flailing Science curriculum like the Dinosaur National Monument, the aquarium, the Body World exhibit, and the Natural History Museum. We put a lot of miles on our car and hopefully a lot of memories in our brains.
4. Family Newsletter. Elle did a family newsletter for the Erickson side once a month. She designed it on the computer using a template. She learned writing, editing, graphic design, and computer literacy. She also learned about deadlines and procrastination and dropping the ball and following through. The newsletters were fun to read and even more fun to have for family history records. She was accepted into a yearbook class this year because of her work on this newsletter.
5. Read Alouds. Read aloud was hands down my favorite part of the day. The kids and I read from all different genres and from different levels. I tried to read mostly classics or books that were worth reading over and over again. We cried, laughed, squealed and cringed together. We were able to have many important discussions based on book characters and events. We were also able to attend several plays or movies that corresponded to the books we read. (I marked those with an asterisk*.)
Here is a list of the books we read:
*The Giver by Lois Lowry
*A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli
*Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
*Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
*Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
I am happiest with my kids snuggled next to me reading good books.
Last year was likely the only year that we were all home together which made it pretty special. Homeschooling opened up time for us to do some things we wouldn’t normally be able to fit in with our busy schedules. I look forward to another year of homeschooling highlights.