Both girls passed and received rave reviews from their instructor! Teagan is going to the 3rd grade material. Neely is so far advanced in math and reading that she will begin Unit 9 in the first grade math material and is on schedule to end the first grade halfway through the 2nd grade material. When school starts new she will be halfway through the 1st grade reading.
Madeline spent the last half of her year at the Cyber Academy and has seen a complete turn around in her grades. For the first time in her middle school and high school life, she is ending with A's and B's. Whoo hoo! It feels great, too. She'll be heading back to public school next time, and I hope this experience will leave her feeling motivated to do well. Believe me, this sh*t was hard. Not quite sure I recommend online school. Tons of work! But, I'm proud of her.
There are a few things I learned as a first year homeschool mama that I'd like to share.
1. Get (and stay) organized. Things will go more smoothly, and there will be less stress. This means making a lesson plan at least a week in advance....more is better. Also, have somewhere to immediately file work into some sort of system, and determine what items will go into the portfolio ahead of time. It sucks when it's the end of the year and you're scrambling to figure out what the heck you did with that story your kid wrote that was worthy of saving.
2. Provide some sort of structure. This doesn't mean you have to wake up and go to bed super early. Not getting up at the crack of dawn is a perk of homeschooling! It means to stay consistent. Start school at the same time everyday. Have lunch at the same time everyday. Read aloud at the same time everyday. There will be days that consistency flies the coup, and that's OK. Just don't make it a habit.
3. Listen up! When your kid has an idea and wants to share (as far off of course as it may be) just listen. If you can do anything with it academically, or if they want to draw a picture of it, let them do it. However, after you've lent the ear to their awesome idea, I'd suggest making it an "afterschool" completion. "Let's finish what we need to for now, and then we can do that when what we have planned for today is finished."
4. Don't get stressed. There is plenty of time in the year to do what you have to do. Public school uses lots of "fillers". We get done in 4 hours what public school takes 7 hours (and sometimes days) to complete. If your kid is having a bad day, let it be. If your kid is having bad days every day, change it up. Let them tell you what would make it better. Let them work out their academic schedule. Maybe all they need is to be involved in the organization and structure to feel motivated.
5. Do something extracurricular. Take art, dance, or music lessons. Join a sports team. Go on lots of field trips. Join a co-op. Just do it. Homeschool becomes stale after awhile, and getting out provides a needed breather. I admit that I wish we could have taken more field trips. I think as a first-timer, I just didn't know how to fit it all in. Now that I've gotten my feet wet, I know it's absolutely doable---as often as we can afford it. I will be looking for a homeschool co-op next go around. I think it will benefit all of us by getting to know other people and letting the kids make new friends to meet up with weekly. Now that Teagan will be in the 3rd grade, my 3rd option association offers a book club that she can be a part of online. I'm looking forward to that!
6. Open your wallet. I know there are sites out there that provide free resources and curriculum ideas for those on a tight budget, but if you're like me and need a little more structured guidance, plan to spend some money. I do a lot of my goody finding at yard sales and wholesale educational stores, but curriculum is usually purchased new. If I had to guess, homeschooling for 2014-2015 averaged somewhere under $1500....but it as all upfront. That is just material and hands on manipulatives. I don't think it will go too much more beyond that because Neely will pick up all of Teagan's books and Libby all of them both. But, it's still a chunk out of the checkbook when only one parent works.
7. Finally, lighten up. So your kid wants to create a piece of artwork or build something that requires paint and/or staples and/or 20 sheets of paper and/or an entire roll of tape and/or a box of macaroni and/or streamers and/or WHATEVER.... Let them do it! It's OK. It's a good thing that they have all these wonderful ideas and to be able to see it through is like satisfying an appetite. In the name of using their noodles, what's one more mess? You know your laundry is already piled sky high, the toilets haven't been scrubbed in two weeks, your microwave is filthy, and the only reason you will ever have a dish-free sink is because someone is coming over and you've either washed it by hand or hidden it somewhere. So I say let them express whatever creativity has taken hold of them that doesn't involve TV or other electronic devices and watch their wings spread. That other stuff can wait just a little while longer!
Bottom line: It ain't cheap, and it ain't easy. But it's so extremely worth most minutes of most days.
I guess this is goodbye---until we meet again. =)