This week, on a homeschool yahoo group of which I am a member, someone posed the question, " How many years have you been homeschooling...and how many years do you have to go?"
My answer? I am completing my 21st year of homeschooling with 7 years remaining.
Can you believe that the 7 years remaining sounds like a very short time to me? And that I kind of dread the day when it is all over?
I have been reflecting on our current year, this 21st year of my homeschool adventure, this first year that I have had only one student with none waiting in the wings, Bekah's 5th grade year.
The question has caused me to reflect, along with the fact that I have spent a good deal of time over the past week or so organizing and recording the year's work and Bekah's portfolio in preparation for our annual review. Add to those things the fact that I always
panic ponder at year's end, considering what we have accomplished, what needs improvement, what we are going to do next year.
My challenges this past year...
Well, um—those who remain in our homeschool (ie., the teacher and the only student) are—ahem—dawdlers. What? You didn't hear me? Okay...we're dawdlers. Yes, dawdlers. And when both of the people involved are, well, you know...let's just say that neither of us likes to hurry. Let's just say that our school time can run late in the afternoon. Let's just say that Ron has arrived home from work on
several many occasions to find us still reading or mapping, or the kitchen table still covered with school books and papers. And a few days ago, Ron asked me if we were not sometimes finished with school by Memorial Day. Well, yes, every. single. year. (Until this one.)
Then there was the mid-year switch to a different track in science. Because science is not my favorite subject, I often leave it for last in our day's schedule, which means that there were too many days when we didn't get to it at all. (See preceding paragraph.) Somewhere along the line, I could see that we had a lot of material left to cover in our Astronomy textbook if we were going to complete it this year. But I also realized that we had covered many science topics in our study of world geography—landforms, glaciers, earth science, habitats, flora and fauna from every continent—and we had done some some study with birds and with gardening, I decided to record everything as General Science and come back to Astronomy another time.
This year's strengths...
As I look back, they were many.
For the first time, Bekah was the focus of our homeschool. Because of the wide age range of my children, I have tended to focus our studies on the older ones' needs, and the youngers have tagged along. For example, during Kati's last four years of school, we did a comprehensive overview of history. So while she was learning about the Civil War and reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Up From Slavery and watching Ken Burns' eleven-hour documentary on the Civil War, Bekah was playing with Civil War paper dolls and reading Pink and Say and a biography of Clara Barton. And when I chose hymns or artists or composers for our Morning Time, I selected ones that Kati had not yet learned. But this year, Bekah's own needs and interests set the course for our studies.
It was a year of exciting learning! As I have told you before, we "traveled the world" one continent at a time. We have read biographies of missionaries. We have cooked ethnic meals and eaten in ethnic restaurants. We have mapped rivers and lakes and mountains and countries. We have discovered new animals. We have sung Geography Songs. We have been fascinated by the West Edmonton Mall (the largest in the world, it even has skating rinks and hotels). We have learned to recognize world landmarks. We have listened to music from different countries. We have watched a video of the Changing of the Guard. And we have read, read, read.
|Cooking Swedish meatballs|
|In full costume, playing Irving Berlin's "Sisters" at her spring recital|
Although I have named dawdling as one of our challenges, I consider our ability to be flexible as one of our strengths. We have been able to linger where there was interest (as in our "travels" through Europe), because we are able to adjust our schedule (as in our decision to study Australia during the beginning of the summer when we have usually finished our "formal" studies) to meet the needs and desires of only the two of us.