We recently celebrated our 100th day of home school life, so I figured it was a good time to post an update. Our home school journey this year has been a blessing to our family. We started our official home schooling adventure in Mid August. We took a few breaks to go camping, and for holidays. All in all, it has been going well. It took us a while to figure out a routine that worked for all of us. Once we did, it made life so much easier.
I realized early on that we needed to all get up, eat breakfast and get dressed at roughly the same time every day. Originally, I let them sleep then fed them and we would slowly start our day. Then we had trouble scheduling afternoon activities and outings because we had no clue when we would finish. We would start late, put things off and have to play catch-up later. It wasn’t working. They were going to bed later and later, waking up later and later. It wasn’t benefiting any of us. I run out of patience for parenting around 8:30pm, so I prefer to have them in bed before then. Okay, we didn’t have to catch a bus, but we did need to get stuff done. My goal is usually to start school somewhere around 9AM. Most days we accomplish that.
I have been a Stay at Home Mom for years, but home schooling on top of that was definitely an adjustment. The first few weeks I struggled with feeling like I got nothing accomplished all day, but was utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. I was used to working out, running errands, making phone calls and sorting laundry while my kids were in school. Well, now I was the teacher, and my kitchen was the classroom. That meant my approach had to change. Originally, that meant WAY too much screen time in the afternoon. My kids get really grumpy and disagreeable when they get too much screen time. That clearly wasn’t the answer. I roped them into helping with some of the chores and errands. Target pick up has become my new BFF. I just add stuff to the cart while I’m thinking about it, and submit the order when I need the stuff. Then I can pick it up after the kids are done for the day. I needed to also set boundaries for myself. I need to be teaching for a few hours a day, that means I can’t chit chat on the phone at 10am and teach math at the same time.
Lesson planning was also one of our biggest challenges in the beginning. It would take me HOURS and HOURS to put together a plan for the week. I don’t really have HOURS and HOURS to spend doing things like that. Finally, I realized that instead of planning all of Monday, then all of Tuesday, etc. It was way easier to just do one subject (for each grade level) for the week. It goes MUCH faster when I do it like that. It’s easier to see the plan for the week. Then when I type it all up, I do it by day and grade level. As time as gone on, I have gotten used to what works, what we need to accomplish and what is just busy work that we can skip if they understand the subject at hand. I learned that adding a few short videos that bring more detail to the topic is fun for them, and gives me a little break at the same time. I plan a 4 day work week, and leave Friday for swim lessons, spelling tests and catching up on the work we didn’t get to on other days. I learned to adjust the amount of work planned for days that we have “Recess” with our small group of home school friends. Little things like that have made the process go much smoother.
As we approached our 100th day of home schooling, we talked about different ideas to celebrate. One hundred Day was always one of their favorite public school traditions, we decided to adopt it as well. We brainstormed different ideas together. Our 100th day was on a Friday. One of our ideas was to go buy $100 worth of food and donate it to the food pantry. I thought it was a wonderful idea. Our local food pantry distributes food on Friday mornings, so we went to the store the day before and dropped it off so they would have it to distribute on Friday. My daughter suggested a pajama day, I am all for pajama days on cold winter days. We usually have swimming lessons on Friday mornings, but as it worked out, our lessons were cancelled that morning. We started our day with our regular circle time, then followed with a 100 day song that included all kinds of dancing and jumping. Then we took some time and learned about what life was like 100 years ago. Bacon was only $0.52 a pound! Then we worked on a 100 piece puzzle, which was surprisingly harder than we imagined. Thankfully, my son is a whiz with puzzles, otherwise my daughter and I may still be sitting there trying to complete it. Trail mix is a big favorite in our family so we decided to make “100 piece Trail Mix.”
We used spare change to make 100 cents all different ways. Learning about different coins, and how to count change. Then I gave the kids a challenge! They could only use 100 LEGOs (not counting the base) to make the creation. They had to work together and cooperate. It was a really fun activity for both of them. They really used a lot of creativity to create a museum full of all kinds of fun stuff! It was a really fun day for all of us!!
All in all, there have been days that were harder than others, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has been a great opportunity to work on some skills that the kids needed a little extra help with. We have learned to communicate a lot more with each other, which has helped us with school and with family life in general. We face our challenges. With Covid-19 numbers rising in our area, and the weather getting colder, we are socializing less and less in person. Thankfully, we found a home school meet up group that requires masks. It has been nice for them to get out and socialize at the playground once a week. So far, we plan to continue to homeschool next year. I have started looking at different curriculum ideas, now that I have a better grasp on what works for them as students, and me as the teacher. I learned that I prefer a hard copy teacher’s edition over a digital version, little things like that we continue to learn as we go.