We began homeschooling Madeline in 2011. After a difficult year (for our family-not school related), and another challenging year ahead with lots of deployments planned, we decided to homeschool to rebuild our family. We took the year to heal from our tremendous loss and to help Madeline reconnect with her family that she had been so distant from since her sister’s illness.
Madeline began homeschooling for first grade. She had a wonderful experience in public school for pre-K and kindergarten with two fabulous teachers, but we really felt she would benefit from the healing that comes with being at home with the family she so desperately needed and wanted. We weren’t really sure what the year would hold, and we were prepared to play it by ear, quarter by quarter, allowing her to return to school if it was what she really wanted.
Not saying every day was easy, but having the time together allowed us to work through many issues we anticipated as our family grieved. We were able to take time to grieve and miss Elizabeth as needed, with no need to write a note explaining our emotional needs to a teacher. We worked through social issues that classmates might not have been able to understand (meltdowns, attitudes, sadness, abandonment, etc). We struggled to find the schedule that worked for us, but as the year progressed, we found our groove. She progressed quickly through her “printed work” and found the extra learning opportunities fun and engaging. We soon found ourselves looking for “learning opportunities”.
Homeschooling has allowed us the freedom to arrange our schedule around our lives. She takes 3 dance classes, piano lessons, and spring coach-pitch baseball. We would have never been able to participate in three activities a week if she were in school with homework loads. She goes to a homeschool co-op, takes field trips with other homeschool kids, has “class parties”, and gets to visit her counselor each week during the day. She and I have mom and daughter time during the week, and she is free to have daddy-daughter time on weekends. She took a week off when her dad came back from Afghanistan, we went camping during the school week, and she didn’t have to worry about attendance when she had pneumonia, which meant she could fully recover and I didn’t have to go to court to defend our absences from school.
We are preparing for our second year of homeschooling for the 2012-2013 school year. Madeline will be a second grade student at Pitts Academy. We used Abeka language, phonics and math for first grade, and because she likes all three, we will consider them for 2nd grade with supplements from Wordly Wise (my favorite vocabulary program), Five In A Row (inclusive reading-core subject plan), and whatever else intrigues us during the year. We will study the US/geography, the solar system, life cycles, plants/animals, motion, energy, and states of matter. Each of the units for science and social studies will be hands on and engaging units with lapbooks, journals, experiments, and lots of fun work. As well, because madeline loves art, we will study Great Artists such as VanGogh, Matisse, Picasso, Monet, Pollack, and more. Madeline loves to copy art from others and create her own “renditions”. Part of our activities include games, puzzles, and more interactive, hands-on things we can do as a family.
If you are a homeschooler or are just curious, check back often to see what we are up to and how things are going for us!