Before I pack up all of our homeschooling supplies I wanted to give you a little homeschool recap for our year!
Well as you all know we had a baby last spring (some about that here), so along with homeschooling the girls, I nurtured a baby in the first year of life. He is definitely my neediest and least predictable baby! We never had a set daily routine because the day really centered on Levi’s needs. We used a daily checklist and just focused on doing what we needed to do for that day and let school be in whatever order it happened! That’s one of the great things about homeschooling, you can tailor it to fit your family’s needs.
We probably did formal school consistently about three days a week because Fridays are my day to get household things done and at least one other day is usually taken up with field trips, meet-ups or appointments (which I consider school)! We only homeschool about 1-3 hours a day, which really is all we need and is about what we can realistically execute along with regular life!
The first part of our year from September to March was really productive. The remainder of the year after that was more low-key because of another disruption…Covid-19!
Here is what we did this year.
This year we used The Gospel Story Bible and an amazing family devotional called Courageous Christians. I absolutely loved that book and so did my kids. Each day is a brief autobiographical reading about a famous or courageous Christian. I often joke that with the amount of conversation and learning that comes from those stories, I could homeschool off of just that one book!
For our main curriculum this year we used the Kind Kingdom from the Peaceful Press. It is a year-long literature-based guide to European history. It was such a good fit for us that we are planning to use The Precious People (world history) for next year. We listened to the Chronicles of Narnia along with a beautiful selection of picture books that covered our history and science. The curriculum offered picture study and themed weekly recipes and projects. Each week was a different science focus, such as space or gardening.
My favorite thing about this year was the timeline we built with the cards that can be purchased with the guide! By the end of the year our hallway had a full timeline of European history from medieval times to World War II. My girls also finished drawing their own progressive maps of European nations with a special book called Draw Europe. The great thing about the Peaceful Press is that it is designed for families with a spread of ages and pulls in the best of many homeschooling methods.
Kiwi Crate and Atlas Crate supplemented some of our science and geography this year. I have a love-hate relationship because of the mess and all the trinket-y STUFF they generate with the projects! I may or may not have hidden the last two boxes the came to our house. (Soooo this should probably be our last year of Kiwi Crate!)
By the way, I really recommend the audio books for the Chronicles of Narnia. The English accent narration just make the stories come alive.!
We used Math U See for the second year. I really love it because it is simple to execute but also provides a set of manipulatives for my daughter who is more hands-on. Math is the area that we probably lacked in the most, but I am confident we will catch right up next year. This will probably be our final year with Math U See because as soon as both my girls are ready, I would like to switch to Teaching Textbooks so they can start to work independently (I’ll be freeeeeee!)
For language arts we stuck with our tried and true Explode the Code workbooks. They could do these independently while I nursed the baby or made lunch.
The other activity that we do for language arts is written narration. You could also call this note booking, I guess! It is our own version that worked for us. Once a week the girls get a piece of card stock and divide it up by making a space on top for drawing a picture. They use a ruler to draw lines below. Then they choose a topic from our week (a book, activity or concept) to narrate. They begin by drawing it and coloring it in with brush markers (their favorite). Then on another day that week we would work on writing several sentences narrating that topic. We produced about one a week, which is a pace that seems to keep everyone from feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It doesn’t seem like much, but both girls grew so much in their writing confidence and we had quite a few narrations for our notebooks at the end of the year.
One highlight of the year was audio books. A huge change for our homeschool this year was my ability to sit down and read aloud for long periods of time. (Or some days ANY periods of time!) As a result, we did the bare minimum that we needed to for school and then outsourced all other read alouds to audio books.
When I was gone on an emergency visit to see my parents (my dad had an injury), my girls listened to the entire Beverly Cleary collection on the library app Hoopla. They found the Beverly Cleary chapter book collection on our shelf (they were my favorites as a girl too) and read along with the audio series. By the time I returned from my trip, they had a favorite author and had discovered they could read whole chapter books in a day. This new development was completely child-led (yay!) and it ushered in the long-awaited era of independent chapter book reading to our house.
We finished our year early in April. My mind and emotions were overwhelmed with the major changes of Covid lock-downs, family concerns, and navigating a decision to move our family out of California. We only had a week or two left of our Kind Kingdom curriculum, so I released the school year and let the girls read and play. (The best kind of school there is!) Some self-compassion was needed for that decision, but I feel like it was the right one.
I also feel like we minimized our school even more this year in terms of supplies. We know what we like and use often! Basic art supplies, bluetooth speakers for audio books, and our library cards!
Well, I must say, it did me good to process this school year in words. I just finished tidying supplies and organizing our notebooks, so writing this post is a little like turning out the lights and shutting the door on a clean room.
Did anyone else feel the loss of the library like we did? How did Covid affect the rest of your school year?