The public schools, home school programs & chess clubs are all wrapping up this week around here.
(ie: Every project, test & party is all going to happen on the same week so that by the time it all ends we are gasping for sweet, sweet summer air).
Even though we are not quite done with out home school lessons, I have started to look towards next school year already. While it was all still fresh in my mind, and before the euphoria created with the promise of a new school year and fresh school supplies overtook me, I wanted to figure out what worked and what didn't.
What did I do this year that worked well:
My weekly charts listing every assignment, lesson, out of the house task, chore that was expected of the boys. It helped me to stay on track with our yearly goals. It also helped the boys to start managing their own time.
What didn't work:
Signing the kids up for too many out of the house activities on too many different days. Our weeks were very choppy. We only had 2 days of being fully at home. That lead to those 2 days being packed with the bulk of the written work for the whole week. The kids dreaded those days.
The kids would rather spend a month focused on a certain skill - like learning to read maps - instead of having a few pages in a map work book every week for a whole year. This was helpful to learn. Next year we can focus on a few skills a month in more depth instead of trying to smear out a bunch of skills over the whole year.
What the kids liked best:
Alex: Chess Club, Summer Book Club, Science, Cooking, The Hamburger Experiment
David: Reading for pleasure and drawing. Not much else. But he IS 13, so that sounds about right.
Max: Chess Club, Piano, Science, Art
What they didn't like:
The Map Work Book
Doing more than 2 pages of Math at any one time.
Days without down time or leaving the house and returning multiple times.
(And a lot of other things, but these were the ones I could do something about. "Never writing in my journal again" - while informative - was not practical.)
What do you want to learn next year?
Alex: Cooking, Sign Language
David: Video Game Design, Stop Motion Film Making
Max: Drum, Singing and Guitar lessons
Me: (Items for them) Nutrition & Health, Poetry
As I sign the boys up for the fall's classes (we do a lot of elective type items through local academies and clubs) I will start to plan out our days and weeks for next year.
I can research classes available in their areas of interest or decide if I am able to teach it myself. (Stop motion films, I can do that. How to design a video game or guitar are a bit beyond my current reach.)
I have a list I keep with me in my calendar of the things each child will learn.
As I come across books, web sites (people always seem to mention great ones for kids and then I completely forget about them) and or get ideas, I jot them down next to that subject.
I will go through all of our books in our home library, our toys, science kits, and our games (and even video games) to see if any of them will help support our subjects.
In July, I will kick it into high gear on planning - but for now, I just need to relax a little and let the ideas percolate. The percolating is a big thing for me. It helps me to really think through and edit my ideas.
Doing this de-brief with the kids and for myself helps to break down the task of planning out the next year into easier to handle bites. I've tried the other way. The waiting to the last minute one. This spaced out planning leaves me feeling more in control and less like a crazy mommy who is overwhelmed and behind in everything and doing nothing well.
If you have any great take aways or "I'll never do that again" thoughts from the school year, I'd love to hear them. Home schooling your kids isn't required. I get great tips from my friends who have kids in regular classrooms all the time.