Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Homeschooling Year 1 Review: What I learned

Our First Day of Homeschool for 2014

Okay so our first year homeschooling was rough.  There is no sugar coating it.  Toward the end of the school year I was ready to throw in the towel.  To the point that Señor Hotness contacted the school, and I began drilling the kids on the standardized test they would take as a re-entry assessment.  Then we did something simple but kind of radical (for us anyway).

  We banned the TV.  We didn't get rid of it, but we did unplug it and banned it from our house during the week, and it is only watched by the kids during quiet time on Saturdays and Sundays.  (I will confess that they watched TV almost non-stop during our month long summer break.  Things got ugly.)  Do you want to have your children explore their talents?  Read more?  Play better together?  I can tell you getting rid of TV watching is the way to go.  Our house is more peaceful without the TV.  My ladies fight less, and I find that my patience is better when there isn't a constant amount of background noise happening behind the noise we already make.  Believe me when I say the mini horde produce more than enough noise all on their own.  Cutting the TV revitalized our family, and gave me the hope that homeschooling really could work in our home.

Another thing homeschooling taught me was not to skimp on breakfast!  While cereal is quick, easy and tasty, brain food it is not.  My crew was drastically less cranky, and much more able to get work done and concentrate when we had a good home cooked breakfast.  Our favorite is doing breakfast hash, muffins, oatmeal, or homemade granola.  Cereal is a rare thing now.  What about pancakes you ask?  I will confess that we don't ever eat pancakes for breakfast.  Pancakes are a dinner meal around here.

I learned that family style learning is awesome, but certainly not all the time.  At least for us.  So we do a few things family style, and then we break up to finish out our school day.  What do we do family style you ask?  We do scripture study, and handwriting family style.  Everything else is more independent.

I learned that life is happier, neater, and I get much less screamy when everyone pulls their weight in the chore department.  No matter how small.

I learned that individual desks aren't necessary, but sure are nice.  Thanks to some really awesome people at church who gave these to us (you know who you are).  I will be forever grateful.  Our girls get WAY more into doing their work knowing that they have their own special place to do it.  They also want to dress these up so stay tuned to see what we do with them.

I learned to never undervalue the need for a really good pencil sharpener.  I bought our first electric one from Walmart.  It broke within the first week.  I bought our second from an office supply store, but I made a huge mistake when I bought the mid-grade one thinking it was still better than the Walmart variety.  It was, but we still managed to kill that one within a month.  So then I went in and got their most expensive model.  Sometimes how expensive something is really is a good reflection of quality.  This one while it looks simple is a workhorse, and has withstood all kinds of wear and tear.  Destructo Girl even tried to sharpen her eraser in this thing.  After I got the eraser out it was as good as new.  The downfall of having such an awesome sharpener is that it can literally sharpen a new pencil down to a nub if you aren't careful.  You've been warned.

I learned that a well stocked crayon box...or two...or three is a truly priceless tool for homeschooling smaller kiddos.  Each subject lesson for the younger kiddos is nothing more than a few minutes long, and doesn't take long to complete.  So whats a kid to do in a house with banned TV?  They LOVE to color, and are crazy about mazes (here is our favorite site for free maze printables).  So what we do is have coloring time between each of their lessons which lets me help my older girls with their work as needed.  Heaven bless crayons.

I learned the value of uplifting music.  While the songs playing on the regular radio may not be bad, they also don't cultivate a feeling of calm, happiness, and focus.  So during school hours we often listen to the Mormon Music Channel, which is a free online streaming radio station.  We have discovered that this sets the tone for the day we want to have.  We save the more energetic tunes for after school hours.

I have learned that if we take a short 15 minute cleaning break every couple of hours our house is much less likely to feel trashed by the end of the day.  A less trashed house equals a much happier mom, and a much happier mom equals a much happier teacher.  Which equals much happier students in a learning environment not stifled by clutter.  In all honesty we struggle with this one.  I will find myself having a hard time not being lazy, and dragging the horde down with me into laziness.  Its a work in progress.

I have learned that a laser printer is worth its weight in gold.  THE. END.

I have learned that a detailed meal plan is a lifesaver.  Its better if I'm not having to think up a meal on the spot while I'm already managing several other things.  Its nice to look at a menu to see whats for dinner, and then prepare accordingly.   This too is a work in progress.

So long story short I am a fickle person, and while I told many people that we were putting them back in public school...I lied.  We made changes and are keeping them home, and why wouldn't I when my kids are this stinking awesome.

Miss E my 7th grader is trying out jazz hands

Miss H my 5th grader, and Miss P the photobomber.

Miss A is my sassy 1st grader.

Miss J wasn't happy at all to be taking start of school pictures without her stuffed animal entourage, but Miss P was more than delighted with another photobombing opportunity.

Miss P is always game for another photo-op.

Any and all pictures at our house ALWAYS have to include a funny face picture.

I'm looking forward to this upcoming school year when my ladies and I will learn together.


  1. Way to go! It looks like you are off to a great start to a wonderful school year :).

  2. Don't think I am not going to take your hard-won lessons the easy way and instill them into our homeschooling. Good luck on the next year!!!

    1. Thanks Kyla, and I hope you guys have a great year too.

  3. I'm from a homeschooling family with 7 kids--I definitely think things get a lot easier once the whole family gets the hang of it--and honestly it can make for a pretty sweet childhood!

  4. Thanks for all the tips on homeschooling! We are considering it and I appreciate a real look at what to expect! Glad the year ended well fro yall!

  5. Love the new photo! Sounds like you learned a lot last year. I do think that the constant noise of a t.v. can be very distracting. Good for you and lessons learned! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. The girls and I are having a blast. I hope you have a wonderful week, and thanks for stopping by, Jann.

  6. I always love hearing from parents that homeschooled. Thanks so much for stopping by.