As many of you know, I took a blogging break for quite a while. The simple truth was, I needed that blogging time to switch to homeschool/family during that time. Homeschooling five children, plus working outside the home (speech language pathologist) and maintaining a home…well, you can imagine that the schedule was tight. It became even tighter as the kids became involved in activities. I don’t know about you, but my kids are pretty busy for people who can’t drive themselves anywhere. Now that the schedule has allowed it, I am so excited that this new homeschool year is allowing me to be back and sharing new posts on homeschooling, speech-language help, and more.
So within the time that has past, there have been some changes to my homeschool. As we start our 11th year homeschooling, we are still doing an eclectic mix of curriculum. This year, that mix consists of Abeka, Waldorf, and theme units.
My twin boys with special needs technically “graduated” high school this past May.
They are still home with me and so they will continue learning with theme units of their choosing. I have also been utilizing a lot of packets for them from Teachers Pay Teachers. I have found some great ones on this site for working on social skills, helping them to understand the concept of money, and thankfully for them, several train themed packets that cover an array of subjects. And, they turned 18 years old in July. Yeah, I can’t believe it either.
My oldest girl is 14 now.
She started high school this year! Last year when she started 8th grade, we made the command decision to switch from homeschooling her to having her do Laurel Springs, a private online school. I knew early on in my homeschool journey that I did not want to homeschool high school (a big kudos to those of you that do!). Since I knew I was not going to homeschool high school, I did not want her first year not being homeschooled to be Freshman year, where grades count for college, so we switched last year. This has been a good decision for us and her. She loves the online format, the ability to continue her school around her participation in ballet (she is a company member and is at her studio approx. 25 hours a week), and the choice of electives. This photo is from her recent photo shoot with Emily Black Photography, Scottsdale, AZ.
My middle girl has started 6th grade and my youngest 3rd grade.
These two are still my traditional homeschoolers. They are doing a mix of Abeka (history and health), Waldorf, and theme units. After trying what seemed to me to be every possible science curriculum out there, a few years ago we switched to these awesome textbooks and workbooks by Harcourt School Publishers I found on amazon. The girls love them as do I. I linked to the 3rd grade ones, but they come in all grade levels. I wish I had found these much earlier. The textbooks have bright vibrant photos and grade-aligned texts. The workbooks allow for extra practice of learned concepts and both contain easy to replicate experiments. Being Harry Potter Fans, I also signed my girls up for some fun STEM online classes via Outschool.com that are Harry Potter themed. Their first one is a “Potions class” in September. Outschool is another awesome resource for fun supplemental activities, especially if you are struggling to do science experiments/hand on science at home.
We also have two new additions to our homeschool this year: a mini pig named Cristina Yangchop and a shorkie named Bella.
I mentioned previously about said eldest daughter’s ballet. The other kids have activities too, though as they are younger, not nearly as time intensive. The boys occasionally participate as they want in our community’s adaptive recreation programs, but mainly they like to “earn” outings via having good behavior and being good helpers. Target trips and seeing movies are their outings of choice. Finding a balance between homeschool time and outside activities is a challenge, but the thing I’ve learned is that it is hard to homeschool if you never at home, which leads me to number one of my…
5 tips to help you have the smoothest homeschool year ever
- Don’t overschedule. I like to look at each month as a whole so I can visually see activities/times, appointments and other commitments. When you have a visual of what you have already said “Yes” to, it makes it easier to say “No” as the month begins to fill up.
- Plan in a way that works best for you. I do not lesson plan per say, but I do write what we do each day in this awesome homeschool planner by Bloom (My favorite the past three years) so that I have a record of daily work (and days homeschooled) , and at the beginning of the last week of each month, I make a plan for the following month (What theme units I want to do that coordinate with holidays and what is in the texts, etc.).
- I don’t compare. My homeschool is and has always been very unique with two special needs learners. While I love peering at other homeschoolers’ blogs and instagram accounts, I do not compare myself to them negatively…even if it looks like they are Harvard bound, uber-crafters. Comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let anyone steal the joy you have getting to be your child’s teacher…not even you.
- Abandon what does not work. We are taught our whole lives to “finish what we start”, and as responsible adults we are wired to do this and not waste money. Therefore, when a homeschool curriculum or book is not working we feel the obligation to finish it. It is okay, better than okay even, to stop something that is not working for you or your child even if it is the middle of the year. One year, I remember buying math books that had went with a curriculum I always loved. But that particular grade level math book was a very different format than the previous grades had been. It was not working. It was hard to abandon it as I had spent $50 on the book, but the minute we switched to a different one, math became manageable again. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
- Find teaching moments in everything and say no to day off guilt. Taking a day off from homeschooling? Maybe you just need a day off. Maybe Mom is not feeling well. Maybe your child with special needs is Not. Having. A. Good. Day. and so you have abandoned the curriculum for the day. You don’t have to feel guilty! It is easy to incorporate learning into days off whether they were scheduled in advance or happened due to unforeseen circumstances. Have your kids do 30 minutes of free reading in a book of their choice before turning on a screen. Let one of your kids help you with a recipe, or sit and watch while you balance the checkbook. Going on an outing? The Aquarium, Butterfly habitat, any museum, can take a fun day and still offer many learning points. (And most of these places offer either free days to the general public or discounts for homeschoolers!).
Wishing you a wonderful, productive, and peaceful homeschool year! (And, I’m looking forward to sharing with you regularly this school year so be sure to join the community via facebook, instagram, twitter, bloglovin, or RSS. You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter in the blog sidebar.)