For most children, the start of fall offers a new school year- a chance at starting fresh! So many new adventures to be had and things to explore! Homeschooling has changed what "new school year" means for us, but I still feel the need to celebrate it and mark the occasion.
I homeschool the kids year-round. My main reasons are to keep the kids challenged, engaged, and enthusiastic about learning. I can remember taking the first summer before homeschooling off; when we started that first day the kids were thrilled! But less than a week in and we found we had whiny frustrated children. Why? Their routine was so off. I had let them embrace the summer freedom (I believe it is a good thing) but the first few weeks back were a nightmare! I can only imagine how difficult it is for classroom teachers!
The next year I homeschooled year-round. I found it worked MUCH better for our family, but I didn't do it for the reasons I do now: I had sent Carter to a brick and mortar school. I was told Carter was great, amazing, excellent, and consistently one of the top three students academically in the class (and I could see that- I volunteered in the classroom often). Academics aside, Carter had a REALLY difficult time with the class itself. Carter hated school, cried 95% of mornings, and would withdraw from his peers. Carter had assessments done by the special education staff, and all of the concerns listed were social, his academics were excellent. With a tough decision before us, we decided to give homeschooling a try.
When Carter came home to homeschool, I was floored at how much he didn't know. Carter had been in a FULL TIME kindergarten, had performed at the top level of the classroom, and did not know (because he had not been exposed) half of the materials in most kindergarten curriculum sets. When we dropped K12, I bought a curriculum for 1st grade. Carter was INSTANTLY overwhelmed with most of the subjects, so I followed the advice of more seasoned homeschoolers, prayed, and purchased a kindergarten curriculum (it felt like a defeat, but I put my pride aside and did what was best for Carter). We started from lesson one in everything. The first half of the materials was completed in less than a month- if Carter could talk about it, and teach me about it, then he could move on. I focused on mastery and stopped looking at the clock or other kids. We finished his kindergarten curriculum and then went into the first grade set I had purchased. Problem: only half of the first grade curriculum was finished by the end of the traditional school year (June)... so... what now? We decided it would be best to homeschool through the summer, finish the first grade program, and start Carter on 2nd grade materials in the fall. We took our time, enjoyed the process, and finished. Carter was now AT grade level. BAM! Goal achieved!
So, yeah, even though my reasons for continuing to homeschool all year are different (I am no longer concerned about "catching" anyone up to anything- the boys are both doing really well) we still do it. With a more relaxed pace during the summer, and our hours decreased, learning still happens freely and the routine of formal education at home still stays somewhat intact. These are good things!
Over the summer, Carter and Harrison have been reading a great deal. They participated in our local summer reading club, and Carter's fluency scores went up an average of 30 words per minute (meaning he can read aloud at a faster pace). Carter has been reading Harry Potter, and Harrison is on pace to finish his 1st grade curriculum in a few months! Harrison asked us to add Spanish lessons to his homeschool curriculum, and Carter has requested more science experiments! I love how much they love to learn!
**Bah! I just realized that I haven't been updating the boy's books on Goodreads! I will start doing that again! Sorry!