School’s Out!

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Tuesday was our last day of school, and yesterday was my birthday!  So I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s a bit of what worked and what didn’t this year.  We had a 5th grade boy, 2nd grade boy, and boy/girl twins who were “old” kindergarteners and very eager to start 1st grade work about half-way through the year.

What worked

1. Homeschool Skedtrack

I signed up for this free, online, recordkeeping system at the beginning of the school year, and it’s a keeper.  I think there are others like it out there that you pay for, but I can’t think of anything else I’d like this program to do that I would pay for.  Enter your students, their subjects, classes, and field trips, and it takes care of everything else.

IMG_0981I used it to track the days and hours we spent schooling, but I could have also entered the actual assignments and printed off a daily schedule for each child if I wanted to.  I don’t need a printed schedule for the younger kids, since we’re usually just doing the next page in the math workbook or reading the next chapter in the storybook.

2. Inexpensive student planner with Catholic quotes

IMG_2395I handwrite William’s assignments in this $3 planner.  It’s much faster to write than type page numbers and much cheaper than printing from my printer every morning (which is out of ink half the time!!!).

 

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Lessons from the beginning of the year

3. The Story of the World, again

Although we spent most of the year using Sonlight’s history books, which were good, we all missed The Story of the World.  We read and loved volumes 1 & 2 the past two years, but this year I wanted to focus on American, not world history.

The Story of the World, Vol. 3 (Early Modern Times) - HardbackThe past month we started listening to Volume 3: Early Modern Times in the car, and it has brought back everyone’s excitement about history.  I will say, however, that this book deals with more violence and evil than the previous two.  After listening to accounts of the slave trade, the Trail of Tears, and the Boer war over a period of two days as a family, I realized that it was getting overwhelming for my kindergarteners.

“This has way too much killing in it!” one of them called out from the backseat.  William and Louis were quite upset when I turned off the CD at that point, since it was just about to tell the story of the Alamo, but they’ll have to listen to it on their own time.  I’d recommend this book for mature age 8 and up.

What Didn’t Work

1. Homeschooling four kids

It was really a bit too much.  We made it through, and everyone learned what they needed to this year.  BUT, the entire year I felt like it was unsustainable.  The beauty of homeschooling is the chance to work one-on-one with your child.  There just weren’t enough hours in the day to do that anywhere near as much as I wanted to.

IMG_0955Thankfully, Louis wants to go to school very much, we have a wonderful place to send him, and N. can take him every day.  Years before N. even considered applying to teach at this school, I looked over their website and thought, This would be a perfect place for Louis.  I think he’s going to love it.

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What happens when Mom isn’t looking

2. Saxon Math for lower elementary 

See above.  I think Saxon math is great for older kids who can read the lesson themselves and work independently.  But in the younger years when kids still need parents to read the lesson to them, I can’t use a curriculum that takes an hour or more per lesson.  Especially since I have more than one child!

We switched to Singapore for the K-2 set, and while it is not as comprehensive as Saxon, it covers the basics well.

3. Taking a toddler to many museums

Oh man, this part of homeschooling just about did me in this year.  Teddy is such a trooper under most circumstances.  He will take a later nap and still go to bed on time at night.  He will play with siblings in the morning before seeing me so I can get a shower.  He doesn’t try to climb out of his crib, and he doesn’t put Legos in his mouth.

But he DOES NOT LIKE museums where visitors are supposed to be quiet and not touch anything.  Unfortunately for me him, we signed up to go on a lot of museum field trips this year.  The worst set-up was when, due to different group schedules, we ended up hitting both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural Science within one week.

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A brief respite–you don’t have to be quiet in the dinosaur exhibit!

We were supposed to view Renaissance paintings at the art museum and the Magna Carta at the science museum.  After I glimpsed the Magna Carta for all of 20 seconds while holding a screaming, flailing toddler who was threatening to bash his head against the document’s glass covering, I did ask a friend to come with us to the art museum.  At least I could leave the older kids in the exhibit that time while I again carried out my usually sweet-tempered Teddy, transformed into a toddler terror, screaming and kicking every time I dared pull him away from a 500-year-old oil painting.

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Painting a Renaissance-style portrait after the museum tour

 

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Finally allowed to touch something!

Next year, we’re just going to the zoo.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “School’s Out!

  1. I totally hear you on the difficulties of homeschooling multiple children. I only have 3 in school, but this year was definitely a challenge, trying to work everyone in. Many times I ended up doing school all day, so I’d do one kid, then the next and then the next (although my oldest was fairly independent, she still needed some help).

    I also totally hear you on the difficulty of taking toddlers to museums….it is a challenge for sure!

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