Wednesday, June 22, 2016

2015-2016: Looking Back at the School Year

Now that summer has officially begun and our school year is behind us, I like to look back at the year and see what worked and didn't work and how we can change our home school to be more successful for the next school year.

What did we learn?

Sebastian (3rd): I focused on helping Sebastian learn more independently this year. Although there are still some subjects he needs to do with me, most of his school work he can do on his own. It has been a great help since the other kids need me to be much more hands on since they are younger.

Kaelyn (K): I have focused on getting her to love school and to start to read. She LOVES doing school, so we are successful in that endeavor.  We are still working on reading, but I am very happy with her progress. She knows her letter sounds and can read very simple sentences. She is enjoying it and that is what counts right now.

Miles (Tot): We have been working on his verbal skills. He has progressed far from his frustrated temper tantrums of the beginning of the year to his understanding of the language now. We are still working on making sounds and words, but is now able to communicate with us more effectively which makes all of us much happier.

Me: I have gotten much better at writing upside down.

What worked

Sebastian (3rd): IEW has been a huge blessing to Sebastian's writing. Although he is still dictating his work, the structure and style of his writing has progressed and his writes with a maturity that is beyond his 8 years of age. I am proud of how far he has come with IEW.  Halfway through the year, he hit a wall in math. He hated it and didn't want to do the work. I am so proud that he fought through and with diligence and perseverance, his math is no longer a pain to him. It is coming easily to him again and he never gave up.  Of all things, I am most proud of that. That is a virtue that does not come easily to him, and I am so glad to see him working hard on something even if he doesn't like it.

Kaelyn (K): Kaelyn is so easy going that everything I did with her worked well. Her math surprised me the most. She is understanding concepts I didn't think she could at her age (like telling time!). 

Miles (Tot): We are doing speech therapy with Miles, and I am so glad we decided to pursue it. There has been so much growth and I can see it helping him not only with speech, but also with his emotions.

Me: I have been using a planner and staying organized since the beginning of April. Life is easier if I stay organize. Who would have known? I have tried a number of organizers and planners throughout my life, but a combination of Google Calendar (long term planning) and my Erin Condren Life Planner have caused me to stay organized in a fun way. If it's fun, I am more likely to stick with it and creating cute weekly layouts is working for me!

What didn't work

Sebastian (3rd): Latin.  We did a Latin curriculum through Christmas and Sebastian did great!  I got the next level and when we started it is January, he hated it.  I may try it out again next year because perhaps he just wasn't mature enough for the next level. We'll see.  Also, spelling lists DO NOT work for this kid. Toward the end of the year we started All About Spelling, so hopefully continuing with these books will help improve his spelling because it is terrible.
Kaelyn (K): Everything worked for her. It's easy when you only have about an hour or two of fun school to do a day.

Me: A bullet journal.  Haha!  I thought it would be fun but it ended up being too much work. Thank goodness my sister got me hooked on a better planning system!

What was our favorite field trip

Sebastian (3rd): "Turkey Hill Experience, going to work with Daddy, and the BEACH!!"

Kaelyn (K): "The beach because of the water and sand and I can bury myself or I can bury Sebastian."

Me: At the beginning of the year we went to an aquarium. Also, we ended our school year with a short beach vacation. Both of those were my favorite.

Suggestions for next year

Sebastian (3rd): "We should go to a space field trip."

Kaelyn (K): "We should go on a girl field trip."

Me: I think we should have more field trips and do some new things.

What are my thoughts on this past year?

The main things that I wish we could have worked more on would be chores and helping in the family setting. My biggest issue is that I feel like I do EVERYTHING in the house. I clean, I cook, I do laundry, I set up school, I put things away, I organize... etc. I need help, especially since we are due with another baby this fall. The kids are getting older and they need to do more for the family. They can be VERY lazy, so we need to address that going forward. I also want Sebastian's handwriting to improve. It can be very difficult to read his handwriting.  For the most part it was a smooth year with little pain. He did have periods of moodiness, but I think it is the age more do than what we were doing in school. Kaelyn is moving along fine and this year went very well. Overall, I would say this year was successful.

What are my thoughts going into next year?

The main focus for next year is going to be building character traits and virtues. The first virtue we will tackle is right-away obedience. I need the help and they really don't do much around the house to help. That needs to end before we have an infant in the house. The only way we can get this house organized and kept together is by everyone doing their part. Focusing on family-led chores will help us work together and get things done. We started this change by working through all their toys and reorganizing the toy room. For the most part it went ok, but there was much grumbling as we worked on the room. I am hoping with more practice, grumbling will be put aside and diligence will be in place.

In terms of academics, I haven't thought about too many goals yet. I want Sebastian to be doing more of his own handwriting this year without losing the wonderful composition he has established in his writing. I also look forward to getting into fractions with him.  Kaelyn is going to continue to work on her reading skills. 

Since we will be welcoming a new member of our family this fall, our school year will be starting in July so that we can take time off when the baby comes without feeling like we will be falling behind. I am hoping to have a gentle first half of the school year and then dig in during the winter and get things done once we have established a new routine with the new baby.

Reflections on our School Year 2016

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