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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

6 Ways I'm Using Summer to Have a Better Homeschool Year

6 Ways I'm Using Summer to Have a Better Homeschool Year

Written by Jessica.

It’s summertime, and like many homeschooling parents, I’m luxuriating in the free time and breathing space of these carefree days. About a third of next year’s curriculum is here, but I’ve got a couple of big decisions still to make. I’m already thinking about what school supplies we’ll need.

Summer is brief, and a new homeschool year will be here before I know it. I’ve not always used my summer days as well as I could have and have learned a few lessons the hard way about how, and how not to use my summertime! With that in mind, here are some things I am doing this summer to help me have a better homeschool year, and some I am not.


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6 Ways I'm Using Summer to Have a Better Homeschool Year #homeschool

I’m not wasting my time on curriculum decisions.


I am a slow, methodical decision maker, to the point of “analysis paralysis.” With homeschool curriculum, which often involves a big investment of money and time, I try to be extra careful to get it right. Consequently, there have been several school years when I had curriculum arriving in the mail in September…to be clear, we are not year-round homeschoolers, nor do we keep an unconventional school year schedule. In other words, I’ve had curriculum still arriving even as I was starting off a new school year with my kids – and that, of course, left no time to adequately prepare but instead led to flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants teaching.

I have many homeschool years under my belt now and while I still take a long time to decide on a curriculum purchase, I have a better idea of what kinds of materials I like and that work well for my family. I also know that despite lots of research and all the best intentions, sometimes a curriculum is going to be a good fit and sometimes it’s going to be a bust – and that’s okay. So this summer, I’m making faster decisions and making them earlier in the summer so that I’m not still opening boxes the day before I need to use what’s inside!

I am making time for non-school projects.


Once the school year ends, my kids are always itching for tons of extra time outside, fun outings, get-togethers, and the like. Consequently, I’ve made the mistake so many summers in a row of saving all of my projects and my to-dos for late in the summer or even until the last two weeks before we start a new school year…and this has almost always meant that my personal to-dos just didn’t get done. This has left me feeling disorganized, frazzled about the new school year, frustrated, and at times even a bit resentful.

This summer, after a real doozy of a summer last year, my husband and I resolved to get our bigger projects done at the start of the summer and told the kids that the outings and other fun would have to start two weeks after we finished school. (To be sure, we did do some simple at-home things for them like ice cream sundaes, Chinese food, movie afternoons, and ample outside time during these two weeks).

Then, over the first two weeks of summer, my husband and I worked on a few bigger indoor and outdoor plans and I worked on many large, time-consuming organization related to-dos that had literally been sitting on my list for years (I’m not the only mom with lists like that…right?). This was such a good decision! Being a little “selfish” at the start of summer has enabled me to take part in the summer fun and enjoy it that much more because my mind is lighter. And best of all, I know I’m going to be much better prepared for the upcoming school year, too.

So mamas, if you haven’t done so yet, it’s not too late to set aside some time to do what you need to do!


6 Ways I'm Using Summer to Have a Better Homeschool Year

I’m not fixing what doesn’t need to be fixed.


I’ve learned that as homeschoolers today we can be spoiled by choice. There are countless curriculum options and so many ways to see or read about what another family is using. This is great and sometimes very helpful, but it can also become a big online time waster. It can also make you doubt decisions that you thought you’d already made. I know well enough what curriculum worked for us last year and what didn’t. So this summer, I’m not wasting my valuable time following every link and reading every review just because there’s a shiny new product out there or because someone is raving about it. If it worked, we’ll keep using it. If it didn’t, there and only there is where I’ll make a change. In other words, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”

I am spending time with my kids.


As silly as it sounds, I like the summer because it means I have lots of time with my kids to do unstructured things: watch them play outside, play games, make crafts or bake, go on outings, join in with whatever activities they want to include me in, and do all the special summer things. I find that it’s also a good time to do fun one-on-one things with the kids that I intend to do during the school year but that don’t always fit into our regular days. Some might wonder, But, you’re a homeschooler, aren’t you with your kids all the time…you know, like every single day? Yep, that’s true! It’s not that I have more actual time with my kids in the summer than I do at any other time in the year, but that my days are definitely freer and my mind is far less preoccupied on school stuff. I find that I can connect with my kids and enjoy my time with them in a different way than I can during our school days, and that is worth doing!

6 Ways I'm Using Summer to Have a Better Homeschool Year

I am being more intentional about choosing books.


My youngest two will still be using one of our curriculum loves, All About Reading, but both they and my eldest do lots of independent reading and reading aloud. I also do lots of reading aloud to everyone. In the past, I’ve made decisions about what books we’ll read as we went along through the school year. I’ll still certainly do some of that, but I want to be more intentional about choosing a lot of those books before the year begins. I’ll be getting some ideas for books here. Again, it’s all about being better prepared and organized.

I am trying out a new morning routine.


Our family’s daily routine is different because my husband works from home on a late-in-the-day schedule, so as a result we all go to bed later and get up later. This works for us, but it also causes us to be a little soft on our getting out of bed time. As last school year came to a close, our start of school time grew later and later and our whole day got out of rhythm and so did attitudes and behaviors. I know that starting the school day off with an established routine can go a long way to set the tone for peace and productivity. So while I’m not going to be getting my crew up early and doing fire-drill like practice of a new morning routine in the middle of summer, I am going to be doing trial runs of parts of it once everyone is up and ready for that day. This will help me to get the kinks out of the way and help me to see what will work before the school year actually begins.

Looking for other ideas on how to use your summer time well? 


Here are some other ideas:
Clear out your outgrown or unwanted curriculum
Start your back to homeschool shopping list
Make plans to make your first day back to homeschool special



4 comments:

  1. Great and helpful post with lots of take-away applicable points.
    2 of my 7 children have graduated and I am still homeschooling 3 with a toddler in tow. I find that having a plan and setting goals for the summer months is most beneficial -for all.
    We have set up a family tradition of taking out each of our school-age kids for a goal-setting date with mom and dad (usually before summer break starts). Not only it provides a special alone time for that child with us, which is a rarity in a large family, but it also allows space and time for the said child to share his or her summer bucket list.
    Once all the kids have been heard, we convene a family meeting to share our own family goals for the summer and schedule projects, activities, outings, friends time etc...We do not put everything on the calendar (though we keep a running list of everybody's goals) and there's always some give and take that needs to happen.
    Overall, this has helped all of us to enjoy our summers, still getting things done all working together towards accomplishing individual and family goals.
    We do something similar before the school year starts and hand out a "My Goals" form our children fill out at their leisure (with four boxes for personal, spiritual, health, and homeschool goals). This allows them to share their input on what they would like to see accomplished and it has given us a sweet window into their heads and hearts. One child wrote "I would like to learn to play the piano." (the same child, who every time he is asked whether he would like to play an instrument -like all his other siblings- invariably replies "No, thank you."), and "I want to share Jesus with others." Heart-Heart

    I like your idea of starting the summer with the big projects, it's another way to skin the cat!

    Summer is indeed a great time to sit back some, get a break from the school routine and at the same time reset the clocks for the year to come.

    Thanks again for all the great blog posts. I eagerly wait for each new one :)

    Blessings,

    Solene

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    1. I love the goal setting interviews! I do something similar. Kids will learn so much more when we allow them to lean into their own interests instead of always forcing them to learn according to someone else's scope and sequence.

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  2. What game is this you are playing with the fish? This looks like something my fishing kids would love !!

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    1. It's an old one called Fishing Time. One of my middle boys looooooooves to fish, but it's not always possible. This game is the next best thing for him.

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