chaos control · family · homeschool · life

fresh starts in homeschooling

“…isn’t it nice to think tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet…”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it

In the book,  a discouraged Anne Shirley bemoans her proclivity for faux pas to Marilla.  In the movie, Miss Stacey reassures a penitent Anne that a second chance is but a day away.

I confess that I comfort myself with this thought every new homeschool year.  We tend to have a strong start, begin to peter off after Christmas, with a final scrambling to complete our goals as the warm weather descends.

This year will be better.  That’s my mantra.  I’ve been homeschooling a very long time.  Twenty-three years or so.  I hope this is a consolation to my fellow home educators.  Some years have been amazing times of learning together with lots of hands-on stuff.  Some years, like when I was sooooo sick with my fifth pregnancy, we were lucky to complete the basics.  Let’s be real…there have been days when I would sit at the window, watching the school bus drive by, tears streaming down my cheeks, wishing my kids–some of them, at the very least–were on it.  Every year is fresh, we can set new goals and we can try new things.  That’s one of the wonderful things about home education.  It’s organic.  Always evolving.  Our children grow, along with their individual learning needs.  Our family dynamics change: babies, jobs, extracurricular activities and obligations.  We may need to alter our approach with the changes in our lives.  Nevertheless, for us, the call to homeschool has become a precious way of life.

So girded with renewed sense of purpose, I went through my boxes of books and found the necessary text books, and prepared my order for those books that I lacked.

I try to pre-plan our year “in pencil,”  meaning that it is meant to be flexible.  I find it is beneficial for my kids–and myself–to have goals, but be willing to go with the flow that is our life.  We usually flag end of the month goals in our books, as well as goals for Christmas and year-end.  We often complete our Christmas goals early, which gives us extra time to enjoy the holidays!  Having clear benchmarks also facilitates catching up, if necessary, when we’ve had a few unexpected days away from our work.  My older kids always shuddered as I created charts to keep us on track.  “Oh no, Mom’s working in Excel again!” (That was before I discovered lots of new ways to make pretty chore charts and school charts!)  With my last two stragglers, we have found that having their own agenda is the best course of action.  I was thankful to find this one at Christian Book Distributors at a reasonable price.

I have tried many different programs through the years, some more profitable than others.  Sometimes they worked with one child but not so much for the next.  We started our homeschool journey using aBeka, but I found it became too pricey and too involved once my third and fourth approached school age. I kept up with the aBeka basics for a year or two, adding homemade multi-level unit studies for science and social studies and such.  Eventually, I turned to Saxon math and Learning Language Arts through Literature, with Easy Grammar and Spelling Workout supplements, for our three r’s.  Our unit studies went through many changes as our family grew and my time was stretched thin.  I have many fond memories of our early, fun unit study days where we made lap books and did lots of projects. I find as the children get older, they prefer a no-nonsense approach, with more independent work.  Again, we have used lots of different programs for these studies, but some of our favourites have been:  Mystery of History, Apologia Science (Young Explorers Series, as well as the high school courses), and Rosetta Stone French. I always include a Canadian Studies unit, and like to include some Geography, as well.  When time permits, we’ll throw in a just-for-fun unit, too.  Art and music seem to naturally fit into our routine for the most part, with phys ed being easy for some, but not others.  I find it’s best for us to start our day with the Word of God and prayer.  I love seeing how God is growing my kids in this area day by day.

How about you all?  What are some of your favourite programs, routines, methods or homeschool lifesavers?

Wishing all my fellow homeschoolers a year full of the wonderment of learning together!

There’s lots to see on my Pinterest homeschool boards…I have too many to list!


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