This is my 3rd year of homeschooling. I am excited to change my plan up quite a bit since my kids are getting bigger. In this post, I’m going to share with you what changes I made, and how I plan to implement it.
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We have had a lot of ups and downs over the past two-years of homeschooling. It was confusing and very overwhelming at first, but now we are in a comfortable place where everything looks familiar and we enjoy learning together 24/7. At the same time, my kids are growing bigger – I’ll have a 1st grader this year! I realized that I needed to improve and take this more seriously in order to help my kids become more successful self-learners.
Review of Last Year
After a year of trying things out, last year we all understood the morning routine and some simple rules for school time. I didn’t feel weird being both their mother and teacher, which was something I had been concerned about. Also, my kids still had friends from church, walking on the streets, and playing at the local park. The best thing was that my oldest daughter could read very well and was doing well in all of her subjects, especially art and music. My middle child was also coming along well with her learning. She loves to read books and doing art and painting.
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What Our Schedule Looked like
After doing English ONLY school our first year, this past year I decided to add Chinese.
I used the theme-based method, so every two weeks, we did a new theme. The first week we learned everything in English, and the second week we learned in Chinese. Since we were learning the same theme in both languages, there was a lot of overlap, so my kids had a better understanding of the concepts and language usage. Honestly, I think two weeks for one theme was too short because my kids often didn’t have enough time to do everything before we moved onto the next theme. This is one of the reasons I decided to extend each theme by a week this coming year.
Things that We Learned
Here is what we studied this past year:
- English: reading, phonics, sight words, writing simple ABC
- Math in English: counting, simple addition and subtraction, place value, 2’s skip and 5’s skip
- Chinese [Cantonese]: speaking, reading a lot, keeping them interest
- Arts and crafts
- Music: rhythm, listening, simple piano fingerings, enjoy classical music, music and movement
- Science: mostly learning with the themes and watch YouTube
- P.E.: weekly ballet class, and playing outside every day
I planned lessons for my oldest kid and involved my other kids most of the time. Usually, after the younger kids finished what they wanted to do, they would take off and play toys, so I would have 10-15 minutes one-on-one time with my oldest. Also, we usually put our two younger kids to bed first since they need more sleep. During this extra time, my husband and I would take turns teaching different things or reading with our oldest, so she had extra time for journal writing, reading, and doing awesome science experiments with her dad.
I think we had a great year of homeschooling even though I was sometimes discouraged by the chaos caused by my toddler. It was very hard, and I always wished I had eight hands, so I could help all my kids at once. I had to learn to be patient as well, and I still need to get better.
Plans for this Year
This year school year (2017-18), I have a 1st grader, a preschooler, and a toddler Yay!!
The idea of a 1st grader did stress me out because I kept thinking about the traditional school system. But, I know it’s time to let go and just make some changes in our homeschooling life.
What Our New Schedule Looks like
I am using theme-based for all my kids. I am also using “letter of the week” for my preschooler and project-based learning (PBL) with my 1st grader.
I also decided to have a relaxed approach to homeschooling this year because I’m going to have baby #4 in February. I can’t physically and emotionally do too much, so I decided to just enjoy our lives together.
I also decided to do monthly themes with one week for preparation and three weeks of school. For school we will do English during week 1, Chinese during week 2, and PBL for the 1st grader and additional English for the preschooler.
Things We Are Learning
I like to be consistent with my kids, and I know they do better when they know what comes next, so I decided to do pretty much the same subjects as last year but with different themes and activities
The only thing different I am going to do is adding more Chinese character recognition and writing. We will take it slow because I want my 1st grader to feel confident and happy about writing in Chinese, so I am not as concerned about how many she learns. We will also choose characters out of Chinese story books that we read and that are related to our monthly theme.
We might need to stop having school after the new baby is born, which makes me nervous. However, I feel great about this year’s plan and the direction that we are going. I hope we grow closer as a family and enjoy life as we learn together.