Thursday, May 16, 2013

Looking Back At Our School Year

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Our school year is now drawing to a close. As we finish up the last week or two of our schedule, I’m starting to evaluate our school year and to think about what worked for us and what didn’t.

Curriculum: I’ve been pretty happy with our curriculum choices.  Our core curricula were No Nonsense Algebra, Math Essentials Geometry, Apologia General Science, Essentials in Writing, Lightning Literature and a literature-based World History study that I put together with the help of Sonlight books and Diana Waring’s curriculum. We had many other short-term and review items shuffled into the mix. This made for a busy year, but we enjoy trying new things and changing things up to keep school interesting.

Schedule: We started our school year in July with a light schedule. There were several reasons for our choice to school year-round. First, the Schoolhouse Crew moved to a year-round schedule, so I knew we would have review products over the summer. Second, I wanted to be able to take breaks throughout the year and to “get ahead,” so that we wouldn’t be quite so busy through the rest of the year.

Emily was happy enough with this plan, and it started out well. We took a 3 week vacation in November, then Emily went on a cruise with my parents and one of her cousins. She did take some schoolwork on our vacation, but I didn’t feel pressured for her to do a lot because of the extra time she had put in over the summer.

However, by the spring semester, I felt that I was really pushing her to get a lot done. She was balking at doing her work and was getting distracted. As we got further behind the schedule, I pushed harder, and she ended up losing her spring break and any other potential for time off because she wasn’t working enough on regular school days. This really destroyed the relaxed and pleasant atmosphere that I want in our home school, and I’m not sure either of us is finishing the year with a good feeling about it.

Now I’m evaluating what I need to do differently for next year. I need to be more relaxed and maybe not try to squeeze as much in. Emily needs to be more disciplined and responsible. She’ll be in eighth grade next year and I’m feeling the pressure to have her ready for high school work in just a year.

Travel: We really enjoyed our trip to Florida last fall. Part visiting with friends, and part field trip. Emily may go to public school in a year, so I would like to get in a few short trips or maybe a big one in the next year while we still have the freedom to travel in the fall, winter, or spring.

What worked or didn’t work for you this year?

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