Now that I can really see the light at the end of our first year homeschooling, I can step back and start looking back at how things are going.
There is no perfect box curriculum
First thing I’ve learned is that there is no perfect box curriculum. Furthermore, you aren’t going to be 100% satisfied with anything unless you piece it together yourself and even then there will be something you’re not happy with. You need to find something that is close enough to what you want so that you don’t hate it.
Stop looking for perfection
Point 2: you can’t study any of them enough to find all their faults and omissions before you invest your time, energy or money. So you need to be prepared to supplement where necessary and accept the curriculum warts and all. If it really stinks, stop using it and find something else. Part B of this is that you shouldn’t assume that one grade is representative of all the grades. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something. I saw the 3rd grade level of my curriculum and was told that the preschool level was similar. It is NOTHING like the third grade level. The only similarity is the teaching guide.
Say NO to over-scheduling
Thirdly, don’t over schedule yourself. I’ve been guilty of this so many times this year. Between all of the things that I want to work on for my own improvement, housekeeping, volunteering for church and community, and homeschooling, there just hasn’t been a whole lot of downtime. This summer, I want to put P into swimming lessons and into Girl Scouts in the fall so I’m starting to think ahead now about what our commitments are and what they will be once school starts. I’ve had to say “no” to quite a few things – including things I really wanted to say “yes” to – because I know that I just won’t have the time I need to do them well come August.
Planning will save your Sanity
Fourth, plan. I mean it. Really plan. Sit down right now and start planning next year. I know it’s April and there’s still another 8 weeks or so before most folks consider their school year done but I am serious. If I could do this year over again, I would have started 2 years in advance and planned, planned, planned. I have a written lesson plan provided with my curriculum and IT IS NOT ENOUGH. I have to read ahead, make notes, acquire materials, fill in gaps, etc. I feel like I am always flying by the seat of my pants trying to keep up. We’re switching curriculum companies next year (more about that in another post) and I can’t get the materials until July. I AM FREAKING OUT. Fortunately, they have an excellent syllabus online so I can start thinking ahead.
Plan for your younger children too
On level with the 4th lesson is number FIVE: PLAN FOR THE LITTLE GUY TOO. My son is two years old and he wants to color and draw and listen to stories and work on the computer with sister. I’ve had to make copies, print multiples, make sure I’ve had enough material all year long. This year, I’m going to put together a little curriculum that he can work on while sister does stuff like math and worksheets. He can listen to stories and color and draw and work on the computer too (but with a different computer and program) but then I’ll make some easier version of stuff for him.
Get yourself organized NOW
SIX: ORGANIZE. EVERYTHING. Your time, your resources, your home. I’ve had to dig all year. I’m finally starting to workout exactly where stuff needs to live and how best to access it. At the beginning of the year, I put all of the pre-K stuff in one file cabinet drawer. Now I’ve purchased another file cabinet, cleared off a bookshelf, and decluttered even more. I’ll have to write a post on this too.
If you’re homeschooling, could you share your most important lessons with me? I’m more than glad to hear them.