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YAHOO! School’s out! A whole semester is done, son!
Whew! I wasn’t sure we were gonna make it, but I have to say that this semester has been one of the best ones yet. Don’t hear me wrong–I didn’t say easiest. I said best.
We’ve had our share of challenges and frustrations, but as I’ve taken a little time to reflect on this semester and begin planning for the next (GASP! You caught that didn’t you? No, I don’t plan a whole year ahead of time, but that’s a post for another day.), here are SEVEN things that have worked well for us…
- Schooling during nap time. In case you didn’t know, my nephews have been with us all semester. The oldest is 11, and he is part of our homeschool. His brother is now 9 months old, so we’ve had an infant to work around this semester. Getting the bulk of our group learning time (read-alouds, discussions, etc) done during his morning nap has been awesome! And we take it as a challenge to see how much we can get done (& done well) while the little guy naps.
- Independent reading from the book basket. Now this is a concept I learned from the year and a half that we used My Father’s World. (Great curriculum; I’m just not disciplined enough to use someone else’s lesson plans.) Each week or two (or 3), I fill the book basket with books from our shelves and/or the library that tend to go along or expand on the topics we’ll be studying in our lesson plans. The kids’ reading is improving, and they’re learning to teach themselves. It also gives me at least half an hour of peace and quiet every day.
- Morning meeting. I can’t remember if this was an original idea or if I picked it up from some other homeschool mom, but being consistent with a morning meeting has been great for us. We gather together right after breakfast and discuss the plans for the day. Sometimes we sing a song or hymn, practice Scripture memory, catechism questions, or read Life of Fred. We end our meeting after 15-30 minutes with a prayer.
- Unit studies/Beyond Five in a Row–I absolutely love Beyond Five in a Row. Through the years, we’ve used at least some of the titles from Before Five in a Row, Five in a Row, and Beyond. The literature titles are rich and engaging, never boring. We love them, and we have chased many rabbit trails that lead into other unit studies throughout the semester. What I love most about this method of teaching is that the kids hardly notice they’re learning.
- Kay Arthur Bible Study–Did you know Kay Arthur writes Bible studies for kids? She does. I used them many years ago with my firstborn, but since he’s 19 now, I had kinda forgotten about them. I was so thankful that a friend reminded me about them last summer. She has written many titles, but we used How to Study your Bible for Kids.
- Friday Morning Co-op–Our homeschool group has been experimenting with a co-op, and this semester was an absolute blessing to us. While I heard many moms complain that going to co-op on Friday mornings meant no school work got done at home, I was thrilled! Who needed more schoolwork when the kids were working on so many amazing topics all morning? My kids participated in Lego machine classes (definitely something I wouldn’t have taught at home), a unit study about the presidential election called “Race to the Whitehouse), and an introductory Anatomy & Physiology class. I thought that was plenty of school work for the day.
- A relaxed mom! Okay, this probably should have been the #1 thing that worked well for us this semester. I’m no where near being as relaxed and carefree as I’d like to be, but I have mellowed a lot through the years, and this year I have been determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even on bad days when I’m tempted to throw in the towel, I’m determined to make the best of it and keep moving forward. Having a tantrum doesn’t work. I’ve tried it before…
So tell me friends, what has worked well for your homeschool this semester?
This article is linked up over at Hip Homeschool Moms.