I wrote already about how we were planning to start Seb’s Kindergarten/1st grade year in July, and what my plans were. In reality, yes, we started, but things have been slow going. We enjoyed visitors in July, and then again last week, so between those welcome interruptions and the fact that I’m nannying 3 days a week still, it’s been difficult to find consistency. I quickly realized that focusing on just a few subjects for a period would be more practical for our summer schedule. Below I’ll list what we did, and mark subjects we have yet to pursue fully with “n/a.”
It doesn’t sound like much of a success story at this point, but I’ve learned a lot, and I think that this slow introduction to a school-time rhythm has been well worth the effort. I’m glad we began to figure things out during the summer months so that we can be even more intentional during the school year, which is upon us! Cody starts his 3rd year at Baylor on Monday!
If you missed it, you can catch up on Kindy: The Plan before reading how our first month of school unfolded.
July 2016 in Review:
Math / Although we’ve moved slowly through our Math lessons, we’ve had great success using the Math In Focus program. Seb has loved it, and I feel like he’s grasped the concepts easily and well. We started with the 1st grade curriculum, and it has been a great fit. We have been more consistent with math than any of our other subjects, so I’m excited to continue with this momentum into the Fall.
Bruno has shown a lot of interest in math as well, so I purchased a pre-k wipe-off math book for him to explore while Seb works on his curriculum. Bruno has also been able to work with some of Seb’s math manipulatives and follow a long with a few of the concepts.
History / Next to math, History has been another success. The sections in the Story of the World reader are fairly small, and there has been a lot of opportunity for supplementing those stories. We spent nearly all of July learning about Nomadic peoples, and the boys became really engaged with that era. We were even able to visit the National Mammoth Monument in Waco before we moved onto the Egyptians. Here are some video supplements for the prehistoric section, and a fun cave painting project. The boys really enjoyed the funny You Wouldn’t Want to be a Mammoth Hunter book. We also supplemented with a couple Just So Stories, namely How the First Letter was Written and The Cat that Walked by Himself. Really, any of these Rudyard Kipling classics are great for the prehistoric period, combining history and literature into one.
Science/Nature studies / n/a
Reading and Writing / n/a … we started Seb’s reading curriculum, but it became quickly evident that with all our interruptions and odd summer schedule, we couldn’t be consistent with it in the way that I think is important to be consistent when learning to read. Seb also wasn’t showing much interest. Assuming the baby doesn’t arrive early, we are planning to start reading lessons at the beginning of next week.
Spiritual growth / n/a. This is not to say we’ve done nothing, but consistency has been severely lacking. We have a huge advantage here, though. Cody is one of their catechesis teachers at church! This means that he does a lot of follow up with the boys during the week, reminding them of the things they learned on Sunday, going over catechesis questions with them, and helping them review what they’ve memorized. I’m quite spoiled in this department, but plan to implement a few of my own things with them in the coming weeks.
Language / n/a
Arts / n/a, at least not of the directed variety. The boys have been at it all summer with paper, scissors and tape. Lots of tape. We also just bought these watercolor pencils and they are the absolute best! If you don’t have an IKEA near you, they are also available through Amazon.
Literature / Library visits, Winnie-the-Pooh, Just So Stories, Little House in the Big Woods, and Pecos Bill stories. The Story of Pecos Bill as told by Robin Williams is phenomenal and hilarious if you’re looking for a short audio story. We’ll be turning to this one on all our future road trips.
Do you remember my grand scheme goals for this year?
1) To be consistent with small portions of time each day, and 2) To inspire in my kids a love of learning. If it takes an entire week to get through one days math lesson joyfully, then so be it. I am not going to push Seb to progress at a certain pace because of a schedule or deadlines or to make myself feel better about our homeschooling journey. And 3) to continue to prioritize learning through play. We will still spend lots of time climbing at the park, playing in water outside, and building with LEGOS at home. I think the introduction of a few more structured academic activities will only nurture his curiosity and give him new tools to engage with the world in new and deeper ways. Our homeschooling journey will spark in him new questions to ask, and provide the brain-nutrients, if you will, that he is craving.
When I look at this, I feel really great about what we accomplished in July, but also challenged to do better. We spent almost every day at the YMCA and the boys’ swimming skills exploded. Seb enjoyed a 2 week swim class, the boys frolicked in the rain (more than once), we assembled IKEA furniture, and went kayaking on the Brazos river as a family. A lot of my days were filled with cleaning, organizing, sorting, and prepping for the baby, and a lot of free-play happened for the boys. They spent hours every day with their Papa, who is the best natural teacher I’ve ever known, and I started a new job as a freelance writer. The days have been full to overflowing in some of the best ways, so it’s hard to say that just because we didn’t work through as much curriculum as I had hoped, that it was an unsuccessful first month.
It seems that homeschooling is a somewhat messy, unpredictable endeavor when you look at the hours and individual days, but when I measure the weeks and the experiences in them it looks pretty grand. And we’ve only just begun!