Some of my goals for Tommy were: learn basic addition/subtraction up to 10, count to 100, get through Bob Books series, learn to empty the dishwasher, do laundry, and clean his bathroom. Ben's goals were to learn all his letters and numbers and to work on coloring and drawing (a year ago he wanted nothing to do with drawing and coloring). He also learned the same household tasks that Tommy did.
It's amazing to me that the boys learned so much without me trying very hard to push a set plan on them. I just read them a lot of books, we had conversations about anything and everything, worked together with them in the house, and mostly just followed their interests. At times it felt like we weren't doing very much. But now that I look back at where the boys were a year ago, I can see that we did a lot. I'm so glad I heeded the advice of experienced homeschool moms to just take it easy and read. It really works!
Even though we are "done" for the summer, not much has actually changed. Since we were doing just the basics every day - Bible, catechism, reading lessons, and read-alouds - I can't really stop doing anything. We are still doing our reading lessons because Tommy is progressing really well with learning to read and I don't want him to take a break from it and forget everything. We're also still having our Bible time. But for my own sanity, I want to make a way to distinguish 'school-year' from 'summer break'. So what's different?
For one thing, I'm trying to get out of the house with all the kids a lot more. I'm a homebody and love the comfort of being home and having nowhere to go. So it takes a lot of mental energy to get me and three kids out of the house, even for a few hours. So we all made a list of fun places to go, and I hope to hit them all this summer. The best part is that all of them are free and within 15-45 minutes away from our house. Some of our future outings include going hiking at local parks, visiting some awesome out-of-town playgrounds, and maybe even a beach outing (though the thought of taking three kids to the beach by myself is still daunting!)
I'm also trying to be more relaxed with our schedule. Normally we would have School Time right after breakfast. But now I'm letting the kids play whenever the mood catches them, even it if means playing in the sandbox at 8 o'clock in the morning or wandering next door and playing with cousins for a few hours after breakfast. I try to fit our learning in later in the day, whenever we get a chance.
I used this preschool year as a practice run for "real school" so I could test out different ways of doing things and get a feel for how I'd like to conduct school for our next year. I've learned that we all do best when we get everything done right after breakfast, and then the boys are free to play the rest of the morning until lunch, or we are free to run errands and get home in time for lunch. I've also realized that nap/quiet time is still non-negotiable. I experimented for a few weeks by letting the boys skip quiet time a few days a week. It wasn't pretty. They got pretty cranky and wild by 5pm. They need that time to just be quiet and look at books to give their minds and bodies a rest. I don't think that will change anytime soon!
I'm already getting excited about planning for next year, and I'm having fun figuring out how to turn our dining room into a school room. I see a trip to Ikea in our future. :)
|Check out these handsome students. The picture on the left is from September 2011, the right one is from June 2012. It's funny to me that Ben happens to be wearing the same shorts in both pictures!|