It's hard to believe that we are about to begin our fifth year of home education. I feel that we are very much still at the beginning of our journey, but looking back I can also see how far we've come. Although the end still looks impossibly far away, I have come to contemplate the possibility that perhaps I, too, may make it (alive, even!) to the finish line.
Here's how our home education journey has looked so far.
2011-2012 - A Year of Beginnings
We began too soon, bought a super-expensive boxed curriculum that didn't end up working out, and quit halfway through the year. Hmm.
2012-2013 - A Year of Beginning Again
We simplified, cut out the boxed curriculum, went back to the basics, and did kindergarten again.
2013-2014 - A Year of Really Overdoing It
I hit the ground running at top speed, did everything that a Good Homeschool Mom (GHM) was supposed to do, and had a lot of fun - but also ended up with some fairly substantial burnout.
2014-2015 - A Year of Recovery
Due to both burnout and morning sickness, we ended up taking the year much more slowly - and enjoying it much more. We finally saw some substantial progress in math and writing with our second-grader, and I also began to learn more about our family's style.
What's in store for the 2015-2016 school year?
Only God knows that for sure.
But from my perspective, I am hoping that this school year will be a year of finally settling into our family's true educational style.
When we were beginning to home educate, it was really hard to know what style of home education would work for our family. I think many home educators face the same dilemma in the beginning. You may read about all of the different styles and try to make guesses, but the truth is often that you don't know what will actually work. Oftentimes we are drawn to things that sound attractive but do not fit our families or our life circumstances. Perhaps unschooling sounds attractive, but it drives you batty when you try it. Or you want to try classical education but find that it completely overwhelms you. In truth, the only way to find out is to try out many different ideas and find by trial-and-error what works and what doesn't.
As our fourth year draws to a close, I find that I am finally beginning to understand the style of home education that works for our family. Don't get me wrong - I am many years away from a full knowledge of our style (and know that it will also vary slightly by child) - but I'm starting to get an idea. For example:
- Workbooks work beautifully for us, especially those with discrete daily assignments.
- Checklists work beautifully for us as well.
- I need an organized and clean environment and schedule to survive and thrive.
- Our educational environment will be filled with both real books (for the joy!) and textbooks (for organized learning and keeping my sanity).
It will be interesting to see what the year brings. I'm hoping and praying that it will be a year of growth and learning, of maturing (for the children and for myself) and of seeing God move in our family in powerful ways.
Here are some things that I'd like to see happen this year:
- I want to get the 8yo writing more easily, and also accustomed to a bit heavier school load.
- I want to figure out our history curriculum (again).
- I want to make substantial progress in how I schedule and steward my time.
- I want to make progress in the area of assigning, checking, and raising standards in the area of chores.
- In our family, I want to pray toward and work toward a peaceful home, a clean and organized home, and improved sibling relations.
It's going to be a challenging year, and only the Lord knows what other factors will come into play (illness? new babies? unexpected life circumstances that will jolt us around?). But I'm thankful to be where we are, and I know that the Lord will use this coming year to mature our family and bring us closer to where He wants us to be.
I'm looking forward to getting started.