Wednesday, June 5, 2013


When Bear was about 2 1/2 or 3 we made the official announcement that we were going to homeschool as long as it was what we felt called to do as a family.  As the end of the year approaches and we look to the year ahead we reaffirm our decision.  Our journey has been bumpy at times, but I know I am not alone in it.

This question was posed on our local Homeschool group~~  What is your definition of a successful homeschool year?

Did we survive it?  Yes.  *grin* but we did more than survive.  We learned a lot about ourselves along the way.  We learned the importance of habits, more specifically, good habits.  I guess for me the best way to define a successful homeschool year is did we continually strive forward?  Yes.  Even when things have been hard we have looked for other ways to do things.  Perhaps we even evaluated if Bear was ready for what we were trying to learn. 

Did we reach a few of our goals?  Yes, and then some.  Our goals this year included:
  • Write our letters --have we mastered it no, but after months of struggle we are doing it.  The biggest problem is getting a wee Bear to have the patience. 
  • Write our numbers (1-20)--See above
  • Count to 50 and work on counting by 5's and 10's (to work on telling time next year)--we can count well above 50, and are still working on 5's and 10's. 
  • Work on lacing and tying --- she has actually tied her own shoes a few times.  Not perfect, but not bad!
  • Simple math from living skills --measuring, counting, subtracting, adding...yep all that.
  • Education from the counter study  --we have made a lot of fun things and performed a lot of fun experiments!
  • Explore Right Start Math concepts--still really weighing it all and deciding if I want to purchase it this year or wait one more year to start formal math. We will actually be starting Right Start this year. We felt we would be better to wait another year with formal math.
  • Bible Studies ( incorporating a new book I bought about tea parties too, and using those lessons to work on our major theme... and manners) --Habits....  still working on forming good habits and since beginning Charlotte Masons studies I am seeing an even greater importance to it.
  • Using the Bible for some Science lessons as well --we talked about God's creation a lot in our experiments. 
  • Bible Buster Club --Not as often as I would like. 
  • Social Skills--sharing, being kind, listening, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts--  We have done more than I can list.  We did a raft again this year, made snowmen, filbert babies, Jack and Jill crafts, and more.  It has been fun! 
That being said here are some things I have learned this year. 
  • Don't over schedule.  Everyone is happier spending more time relaxing at home than doing a zillion activities.  There is always next year
  • Don't place high expectations on yourself or others.  Expectations often make people feel like they have failed when they are unrealistic.  Make realistic goals instead!
  • Each day we learn something even if it isn't what I had planned.  Nothing we learn is for naught.
  • Simple is better.
  • Be quiet.  I am still working on this. Being quiet is more of a spirit thing too and I think having a quieter spirit would settle well with the life goals we have. 
  • Stop comparing our learning experience with others.  This is hard, but I am learning to understand I can admire but need to keep our family's needs and wants in the forefront.  What works well for another family won't work well for anyone else.  What it does do is foster creative juices as I think about things that MIGHT work for us.  How can I adapt some trait or experience I see in another family to fit our family.
  • If I don't know it I can learn it.  I am not worried about telling my daughter that I don't know "and we need to look it up!"  Homeschooling teaches you and your child that learning is life long and admitting you don't know something is ok.  No one laughs, no one yells, no one gives you a bad grade....  you just find a way to learn it.  This is why homeschooling teaches HOW to learn.
  • Outside the box is great.  And it can be fun.  We don't think in neat little square blocks so why would we learn that way?

John T. Gatto once wrote:  Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnard Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled....When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them.

Its wise to remember this and understand that as a homeschooling parent we don't want to raise formulaic children with behaviors and thoughts which can be controlled.  We want to raise free thinking people.  We have the ability to give our children a wonderful gift.  We can raise them with our values and ideals.  This isn't a bad thing, regardless of what society teaches.  Its not bad to raise your children to hold your values and ideas dear.   In fact, to not raise your children to hold your values (as long as they are loving values) is a tragic injustice.   This is something I have learned.  This is something we are still learning.  Do we cower to society and its ways or forge ahead holding fast to what we ultimately want for our family? 

"Object-lessons should be incidental; and this is where the family enjoys a great advantage over the school. The child who finds that wonderful and beautiful object, a “paper” wasp’s nest…has his lesson on the spot from father or mother.” Charlotte Mason

"Boys and girls must have time to invent episodes, carry on adventures, live heroic lives, lay sieges and carry forts, even if the fortresses be an old armchair; and in these affairs the elders must neither meddle nor make." and one last wonderful quote by Miss Mason, "Education is a life. That life is sustained on ideas."

The question remains:  What is your definition of a successful homeschool year?

Did we learn?  Yes we did.  We learned to love more.  We learned to live better.  We learned to hope.  We learned to lean on God.  We learned to live our own path.  We learned to own our mistakes.  We learned to have joy and hope.  I'd say we had a very successful year. 

How about you?
Fizz Experiments:  Kitchen Science!

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