Some of you may know that last year I pulled my 7 year old son out of 2nd grade to homeschool him. You can ready why HERE.
My main priority each day was to create a happy, safe environment for him to learn. My biggest goal was teaching him how to read. It was hard work. I cried lots of times. But we laughed together a LOT.
On June 5th, his last official day of 2nd grade, I felt like a failure. I felt like I hadn't done enough for him and was very discouraged. I realize now that it was just negative thoughts and not reality, but at that time, it felt real. He was still really struggling with decoding words and any word with more than one syllable was extremely difficult for him to try to sound out. All I could think of was that we will have some hard days ahead of us as we enroll him in school and when next year begins I'll ask for testing for dyslexia. I was overcome by the stress and weight of it all.
We took a couple of weeks off when school ended for the summer and just rested, took vacations and enjoyed some time off. Then he started a summer reading course through a local college. He worked hard on his workbook and reading books and I found a fun adventure series that we would read together every night. Our deal was I would read a chapter from that book and he would read 3 pages from his book. This plan highly motivated him and really helped him enjoy the process. It seemed like it occurred overnight, but he was beginning to read with fluency, exaggeration and with very little errors. I was beginning to see the fruits of our labors. The pressure of school was gone and all we were doing was reading together! One morning, he woke me up and said, "mom, can we read?" That's the first time he had ever asked to read together. I was overjoyed and said, "of course!"
This year he is going back to public school and I have ALL my fingers (and toes) crossed that he will have a happy experience. I'm praying for a teacher that can think outside of the box and truly loves helping kids.
That being said, as I think about our past homeschooling experience, I know that we may come back to homeschooling again in the future, here are 3 things I will do differently the next time around:
1. Read more, worksheet less.
I love being able to check items off my list, and to have worksheets filled out and turned into his learning counselor. It felt good to have tangible evidence of the learning that occurred. And it helped me stay on task. BUT I saw more progress in him when we were able to just sit and read together than when I was forcing him to fill in boxes or do word sorts or match a word to a definition. Next time I'll be searching for a literature program where we read a book and then he writes down what he learned. Still searching for the perfect program, but I'm sure it's out there. We also did some journaling and next time I'll be better about doing a daily entry and being consistent with that.
2. Hands on is always better.
My strategy at the time was, finish the worksheets and you'll get a fun project. BUT some days it literally took 3 hours to motivate him to finish said boring worksheet, so he missed out on a lot of projects and experiments that would've been beneficial and fun. Not too sure how I would do this differently, though since he is the one that needed to learn this behavior and change. He is hard to motivate when it's not his idea. Once again, next time I'll be better about consistently doing hands on projects, and probably having a discussion each morning about what is expected that day would do wonders. At the end of the year, we did a Rainforest Unit Study which was awesome and had some fun projects to go with. I'll do more unit studies next time too!
3. Outdoors is best.
I'll definitely miss all our lunch picnics, P.E bike rides, gardening days and workouts together. He was my little buddy and although I'm looking forward to having some free time to catch up on the neglected housework and business tasks, I for sure will look forward to 2:30 each day! Next time I'll make it a goal to go outside more often, maybe even read outside or take or science project to the backyard. These are the things that make homeschooling so beautiful and give our children a different experience than just sitting in a classroom all day long.
Do you have any tips for other homeschooling moms? Please comment with them and share any advice you might have!
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