First Year Homeschooler Reflections

First Year Homeschooler Reflections

I am no longer a first year homeschooler! Our first year is in the books. I have the attendance records to prove it, and it feels like such an accomplishment. My school aged children completed second grade and kindergarten at home. You can read more about our decision to become a homeschool family here, but our decision was not related to the pandemic like so many others. The pandemic just confirmed to us that we made the right choice for our family. We are at the end, and I have thoughts.

What We Liked About Homeschooling

I think my favorite thing about homeschooling was the freedom we experienced in our daily schedule and routine. If something came up, or if we were just bored with what we were doing, we just changed it. I even switched our language arts curriculum mid-year. You just don’t have that flexibility with traditional public school. My favorite part of our day was cuddling up on the couch and reading to my girls. We entered and explored so many wonderful stories and worlds together this year. I watched their love for books and reading blossom from the front row. We traveled the world together through our social studies curriculum and learned how not every one lives, looks, speaks, or believes the way we do, and that is what makes every one unique and special.

In addition, I loved how our days look on a leisure quality. We were not rushed nor over scheduled. One of the things I disliked the most about my children’s time in traditional school was the long day. They were gone so much of the day. My oldest came home exhausted around four o’clock each day. She came home so late in the day and so tired, that we often had to complete homework in the mornings before the bus came. I did not like feeling like I got the leftovers of my children. I felt I was missing too much. They missed each other as well. This past year my children had so much time together, and it grew their sibling relationships in the best ways. I often say to my children that their siblings are their forever best friends, and I saw that come to pass this year.

What We Did Not Like About Homeschooling

Don’t get me wrong, being a first year homeschooler was not sunshine and roses all the time. However, I think the things we found to be the most challenging were things that were amplified by the pandemic. When we made the decision to become a homeschool family, we knew our children would have to make new friends. ~Sigh~ new friends, again. I say again because, remember, our family moved across the country in 2018. Our kids had already been through the difficult process of meeting and making friends after our move, and they had to do it again.

Our community has a strong homeschool presence. However, everything was closed for so long because of the pandemic. I had a really difficult time connecting with other homeschooling families. This was our biggest struggle by far. My oldest told me she loved doing school at home, but she missed the kids from her old school. We tried play dates when we could, but a world wide pandemic really puts a damper things. Every family has different comfort levels with precautions to COVID, including us. It was difficult for them to establish meaningful connections. One of our biggest changes we will be implementing next year is enrolling them into a co-op. They will do classes with other kids one day a week. Everyone is excited about this!

Another thing I found challenging was adjusting to having my kids around me all day long, every single day. I love my children with every part of my being, but my introverted self needs time alone to decompress and recharge. COVID amplified this because my long haul symptoms from having the virus were so pervasive. I spent much of the year in recovery. I often had to take naps in the middle of our schooling, because the fatigue was so intense. Many of our days were spent doing only the essential subjects. I am really excited about adding more extracurriculars next year, now that much of my energy has returned.

Final First Year Homeschooler Thoughts

I don’t believe homeschooling is the right decision for every family, and that is okay. Homeschooling is not one size fits all, and you absolutely need to feel called to do it. It’s a hard work, but it is definitely a worthy work. I am so glad we finally made the leap, after we considered it for so many years. As of now, our plan is to continue homeschooling through at least elementary school, and everyone is excited about this. I looked at this year as a learning year, and I experienced so many lessons as a first year homeschooler that stretched and grew me. Lessons I am forever grateful for. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us next year!


We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

That’s right. We have made few homeschool changes and upgrades since we began our year last July. I think that’s my favorite thing about homeschooling. It’s okay and even encouraged to make adjustments to our schooling when we need to. I find it so freeing!

Language Arts

The first big homeschool change we made this semester was switching our Language Arts curriculum. Last semester, we used Abeka. You can read all about my initial review of this program here. Even though I quickly realized we wouldn’t stick with Abeka long-term, my plan was to finish the books I bought. However, we couldn’t even do that. The workbooks started moving too fast for my kids, and no one was having a good time. So, I made the decision to go ahead and toss it out earlier than expected.

What did we switch to you ask? Logic of English. We are LOVING it! Loving it, I tell you. My kids get so excited to do language arts every day. They love the multi sensory approach to each lesson. I made the decision to start with Foundations A, which honestly is way below their current reading level. But, LOE teaches things differently than Abeka. We needed to learn how LOE teaches. Plus, did you learn about broad sounds when you were in school?? I sure didn’t! Did you know the letter “i” makes FOUR different sounds, and there are rules for each one? Me either! I had to memorize so much when I learned how to read. It turns out, there are more logical (ha, see what I did there?) rules to reading than I thought. So, starting with Foundations A has filled in any gaps my kids (or I) had.

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Hymn Study

The second big change we’ve made to our homeschool isn’t switching curriculums; it’s adding in a whole new subject. We started a hymn study. As you know, my husband is in vocational ministry. We are active in our non-denominational church. However, my husband and I grew up in more traditional churches. We grew up singing the hymns that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I wanted my kids to learn these holy songs. There is something so inspiring about singing the words to a song that have united Christians of generations past and present. I wanted my kids hide these songs in their heart just as I have done.

As far as hymn studies, it turns out there are a lot of good options. All unique in their own way. I ended up choosing the curriculum by Not Consumed. This is a unit study program. And out of all the choices, I decided on this one because it had many songs that I personally love. The parent enjoying the material being taught is an important component of homeschooling. This study also teaches the child to play the hymn on a tin whistle (basically a recorder), which has been so fun. We are learning one hymn a month, and we just finished our first one – It Is Well.

Attitude and Pace

The last change we’ve implemented is my overall attitude on the pace of our homeschool. I’m realizing that it is okay if we don’t hit every single subject every single day. I’m continuing to learn that homeschooling does not need to look anything like traditional public school. That there are a million ways for kids to learn. That allowing time to play IS allowing time to learn in an organic fashion. I am dropping the weight of the pressure I put on myself a little each week. Yes, I make plans (I am loving this EC lesson planner), but it’s pretty rare that I check off every single little thing. And that’s just fine by me. I know my kids are learning and growing. Not just academically also emotionally and spiritually as well.

So tell me, whether you homeschool or not, how is the year going for you kids? Let me know in the comments below. As always, if you liked this post, please like and subscribe to be the first to see new posts!

Abeka Review: Teaching My Kids to Read

Abeka Review: Teaching My Kids to Read

I wanted to share with you my Abeka review. Abeka one of the most widely known curricula. It’s used extensively in the homeschool community as well as traditional schools. When we decided to homeschool, I knew Abeka was going to be one of our resources. Teaching our kids to read can be one of the most overwhelming this about homeschooling. It was to me at least. This was heightened by the fact that one of my children was struggling with their phonics, but I was told over and over again how great Abeka would be for that.

And it’s true. Abeka has a strong phonics based Language Arts approach. So, I bought some of the workbooks and flash cards. I chose not to buy the complete Language Arts bundle, because I didn’t think we needed it all and it overwhelmed me. I definitely wouldn’t put them in the “budget friendly” category, but every product is bright, colorful, and has excellent quality. Because Abeka has such a traditional approach, I knew I didn’t want to use it for every subject all the things. We are in the eclectic lane of homeschooling, but I do try to limit the amount of worksheets my kids have to do.

The Pros

First the pros. My kids are learning. My struggling reader has learned confidence in herself. She’s gained patience to sound out words, and she has already progressed to the next reading level. I am so thrilled with her progress, especially since we had to start from the beginning (she was previously being taught a whole language approach in public school). Also, my new reader is actively and steadily learning her phonics. She has just started reading level A books, which is so fun. And, her favorite thing in our homeschool is her letter sound book.

The Cons

Ok, now the cons. Despite all the progress my kids have made, I just don’t love it. It’s repetitive and boring, especially for my oldest. She basically has to complete the same worksheet every day, just with new information switched out. There is a lot of testing. Like weekly. We don’t even do the tests, because I already know how my kids are preforming. Also, it’s important to know that Abeka is basically a grade level ahead of public school. Because my oldest came right out of public school, she is having to do first grade work in Abeka, even though she is in second grade. She doesn’t really have an issue with this because I explained to her why, but I know things like that can be upsetting for some children. Abeka also moves through material very quickly. Our math curriculum is very traditional as well, and two traditionally taught subjects seems to be too many worksheets for our family.

Moving Forward

Right now, my plan is for us to complete the Abeka materials I’ve already purchased. However, I will to switch to another phonics based Language Arts program once we are finished with it. All in all, I don’t regret reaching for and trying out Abeka for our Language Arts. It’s helped my kids learn and progress. It was so nice having an “open and go” option when we were first making the switch to homeschooling from public school. But, it’s not something that will work for my kids long term, and I am happy there are so many other options out there.

Tell me, that are you using for Language Arts this year? Have you ever started a curriculum, then decided it wasn’t the best fit? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Helpful Links:

Our Favorite Early Readers

Read About Our Math Curriculum