First year schooling thoughts

homeschool outdoors-2
reading books

It’s that time of year… where everyone starts posting their {school}year-end thoughts, etc… So I thought I’d post mine.

Photos in this post are for CoombeMills “Country Kids” linkup. They’re of various times in the past few weeks that we “Did School” outside, something that’s been really fun for them as the weather has turned warmer.

Fingers are for counting on
Fingers are for counting on

This year was our first year of homeschooling. I did a half hearted attempt at “kindergarten” last year, but we didn’t do much other than learn to read (which I’m totally OK with). But this year we’ve done “first grade”. My scholars are Kat. age 6 – year 1; John age 5 – “kindergarten”; Karl age 4 – add on; Zachary age 18mo. – trouble; Nicholas age 2mo. – baby.


Some things I’ve learned so far:

  • If I’m pregnant, I can only do school in the morning.
  • Teaching is hard.
  • I’m overly ambitious when it comes to which subjects to include in our curriculum.
  • There is a lot (lot, LOT) of reading to the kids in first grade.
  • It’s hard.
  • I like things, especially language arts subjects, to be as scripted as possible.
  • History……………….
  • I can’t figure out how to teach science…. and I’ve got a biology degree.
  • Math is still my favorite subject.
  • Life Skills are IMPORTANT (and helpful to mama)
    Life Skills are IMPORTANT (and helpful to mama) 😉
  • Breaks are awesome!
  • Good pencil sharpeners are AMAZING!
  • So is a toddler napping in the morning.
  • Did I mention, it’s hard?
Math work. (Same level as Katherine)
Math work. (Same level as Katherine)

To say it’s been a challenging year would be an understatement. I think probably because we had too many things happening at the same time (I was newly pregnant and we were starting something completely new at the same time —- > craziness!).

I was thinking about this post all day trying to think about “what we accomplished” and realized that I didn’t actually make a list of things to “Accomplish” by the end of the year (which seems to be highly recommended based on the homeschool blogs I’ve read), but…. I didn’t do it.

Using knowledge: Reading a book, and copying parts for fun.
Using knowledge: Reading a book, and copying parts for fun.

We (me and Katherine) butted heads over Math for the first few months. I think it was due to the program we were using, so after Christmas break I decided I just couldn’t it anymore and switched to Saxon (what I used in school). I ended up buying a workbook for John too, since he was figuring out concepts in his head while Kat. was sitting there with a blank stare. Since then, it’s been a lot better. Maybe it’s just easier? Maybe it makes more sense to me? Maybe there’s a bit of good old-fashioned sibling competition? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Spelling, grammar, reading, narration, handwriting…. All of those. I’d say we did about average in all those, except handwriting. Katherine decided she wanted to learn “fancy” writing (cursive), so once she completed her level 1 book I bought her the level 3 book which begins cursive. I think the thing that’s been the most difficult for me is narration. If the lesson is scripted and I have written out questions I can ask about the passage/poem/book then we have no problem, but if I have to come up with questions to prompt thinking about the passage/poem/book then I start drawing blanks. So if you have recommendations for me I will gladly take them! 🙂


Science… nothing… I’m planning on starting nature journaling to see if that helps anything, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

Walks to the library to get more books... definitely homeschool!
Walks to the library to get more books… definitely homeschool!

History… we switched gears about a month ago, when I realized the Ancients weren’t working anymore. So we’re now doing a newly started study of American history using a living book approach. I had a huge realization regarding living books just after we switched over. I had been reading a history book (which I didn’t finish), and it was pretty dull and dry, not a ton of narrative, but if had had more narrative and been more in story form, I probably would have enjoyed it more. Which lead me to think the kids would probably get more out of those types of lessons. We’ll also be starting a timeliness soon, so am hoping that helps.

Lunch breaks!
Lunch breaks!
  • Changing up curriculum mid-year is totally fine.
  • It’s nice not being tied to the school system’s schedule.
  • Aim for fun stuff thrown into the mix.
  • Some days, sit down work just doesn’t happen, and that’s ok.
  • Lessons outdoors are a nice change, especially if everyone has spring-fever
  • Sometimes really long breaks (like 6… or… 8 weeks…) are just what is needed depending on the season of life. {Yes, we’ll be working somewhat into the summer, but I am planning a bit of a break, I kinda feel I have to now… my kids heard about “summer vacation” somewhere and are SUPER excited for it… even though I’m not sure they really know what it is, just that EVERYONE else does it, so it must be cool!)
  • Nearly every moment of every day is spent learning (even if its not “schoolwork”)
  • Using Knowledge: Made a plant sale and a sign.
    Using Knowledge: Made a plant sale and a sign.

Many of the things I learned this year I knew intellectually, meaning I read them in a book or a blog post. But I’ve come to a much more “real” understanding over the course of the year.

homeschool outdoors-11


Linking with Coombe Mills for Country Kids

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

3 thoughts on “First year schooling thoughts

  1. it’s great to see how far you’ve all come, I can’t imagine how difficult it is to start your homeschooling life pregnant too! It’s great to see the kids enjoying their learning in the fresh air, it’s great that they’re coming on leaps and bounds. I’m sure they’re all enjoying learning at home with the family around them too. Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

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