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Monday, May 11, 2015

reflections on our year of homeschooling

I wanted to take a moment and reflect on our journey in homeschooling this past year. It most certainly was a challenging and rewarding experience for us all, and although I had my moments, I am glad that we stuck it out (as much as we did).
It was last summer that Winslow and I decided that we would like to supplement Noah and provide Katia with some homeschooling. Noah attended the local school in our community, but the kindergartners only attend for half days. We felt that he would need some structured learning time in the mornings, and that Katia would benefit from it too, as there are no pre-school programs here in our isolated community.
Last summer, I did some pre-planning, and decided on units that we would do together. I made a list of subjects and found that more or less, this was a good way for me to stay on task. Some of the units were: Owls, Fall, Apples, Hibernation, Christmas, Friends. It was easy for me to plan around these themes. I used Pinterest for a lot of my craft and books ideas, as well as, games and worksheet ideas.
Some ongoing activities that we incorporated into our days were: nature walks, baking and cooking, sensory play, quiet reading.
Some reflections on the year. 
I am proud of what we accomplished and how we found a natural rhythm to our learning time together. I have some very special memories tucked away in my heart, of moments where we were cozy in our home, learning together and being creative.
Some of my favourite memories were the puppet shows that Noah and Katia reenacted, the many crafts that we made together, building our nature table collection, writing letters to family faraway,  witnessing Noah learn to read, sound out words and spell, and spending quality time together.
While homeschooling worked for the children, and I do believe they gained from the experience, on a personal level, there were some challenges that were really hard for me to overcome. While the children loved homeschooling for the majority of the time, I'll be honest, there were days (weeks actually) that I did not enjoy it. With a combination of feeling extremely isolated out here in Beaver Creek, feeling lonely, and stir crazy, there were moments where the thought of getting through a morning of activities, crafts, lessons just made my skin crawl. It was not a good feeling for me, and I knew that this would be felt by the children too. I also suffer from mild to moderate seasonal depression, and so the winter months were really hard for me to get through. Although we still could have continued with homeschooling until June, I decided that in April, we would finish up the year. It was the best decision for myself at the time, and I knew that the children would benefit from the break too. They deserved a more relaxed and even tempered mom, not a stressed out and unhappy teacher.
If there is one thing that I learned this year, it is that as the teacher, it is so important to take care of yourself. I am no use to anyone else, if I am unhappy and not at my best. Our circumstances were hard here. There were things that I simply had no control over (lack of friends, being so far from a major town, lack or resources). There were many nights that I stayed up, lesson planning for the next day, and also taking care of household duties. I think it's so important to find balance and time for self. If I am to ever do this again, I know that I will need to have a better balance and be in a place where we have access to more resources.
So, the big questions of the day.
Will we homeschool next year? 
Next year, we plan to have the children in public school (Noah) and a preschool program (Katia). I think we all need to experience what a larger community and public school can offer our family, and I think both of the children will benefit from the social aspects of being around more of their peers. I also need a break, and that is ok to say.
Will we ever do it again? Never say never, is my motto. I still do believe in the amazing benefits of homeschooling. It is a sure way to cater your child's education to their interests and strengths. You can tailor their units, go out on field trips (if you live somewhere that is not isolated), and have hands on learning. It has amazing potential, and if we ever find ourselves in the position where we need to rely on the option of homeschooling, I know we can do it.
Final thoughts. 
While we may not be continuing with our homeschool journey next year, I like to think, that we laid down a strong foundation of loving to learn together, and we will always continue with that love, desire and excitement about learning. Next year will see us in a new province, a new town/community and we will have all kinds of wonderful places to visit and things to do. I am excited that we will continue to learn together on our evenings, weekends and days off from school (I bet I will even pull Noah from time to tie, just so we can go off on a field trip or two) .
This past year we learned about taking the opportunities that present themselves and learning from them. We learned that it is important to carve out time for family and getting outside. Most importantly, I think, we discovered that when we allow our interests to lead the way, that the learning aspect just falls naturally, and that my friends is a beautiful thing to witness.
Thanks so much for joining us this past year on our homeschool journey. It's been quite the ride!
Looking forward to the next chapter!

Leaving you with some pictures from a recent Story and Art lesson that we did. I think this is where my next teaching journey will take me. I love excellent children's stories with beautiful illustrations and I love bringing a story to life by including a special art project.
Here we read The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, and then we did a large mixed media painting that included stamping. The kids loved it! You could also show the kids this video (which we love) at the end of the project.

1 comment:

  1. And thanks to you, we enjoy The Dot here as well! Give yourself more credit-- you accomplished A LOT homeschooling this year. Noah learned how to read and write! That is may-jah! And you're wrong, you don't need to be at your best to keep everyone happy. You can practice being kind to yourself, and forgiving of yourself, but you also do a great job showing your kids that expressing frustration, anger, etc, is all okay in your house. They have that freedom, and so do you!


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