Schooling Update ~ Reflections on the Year


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I recently connected with a couple of Canadian homesteading and homeschooling bloggers and we decided to link up to our end of the year reflections on how schooling went this last year. I love connecting with other people and learning from them. And since I really enjoy other cultures and people from different countries, it’s even more fun for me to connect with Cheryl and Savannah.

Cheryl writes at On the Old Path about her homesteading and homeschooling adventures with 6 children and many chickens, and tells about her son, a brain cancer survivor. She also shares fun tutorials and delicious looking recipes, like this pectin-free strawberry jam.

Savannah writes about her family’s adventures at Ramblings of a Christian Mom while homeschooling her 4 children and homemaking in Eastern Ontario, leaning on Jesus along the way. Savannah also has some fabulous recipes and fun tutorials, like this chunky crochet baby blanket.

But this post is really about our school year. So here goes!


Anna is 9 and will be in 4th grade next year. She went to public school for the first time this past year. I was both excited and apprehensive, but she loved it and excelled. She was quite nervous initially, but made great friends and had a fun time. Her handwriting improved as did her repetition of basic math facts. She has been reading since she was 5 and continues to love reading. I was pleased to learn that I prepared her quite well for public school. Homeschooling’s a scary thing sometimes, but she did not struggle at school and was chosen to attend College for Kids this summer, a two week summer school for bright kids.

There were many things I liked about her year at school and a few things I didn’t like that much. For instance, I didn’t really enjoy packing her lunch every day. Luckily, she’s surprisingly not picky at all about her lunch and it turned out that I was able give her many leftovers that she ate! Without griping! It turned out to be a great way to use up leftovers… And having to be home by 3 pm when she got out of school was quite challenging for me. Many of our homeschooling activities are in the afternoon and it definitely complicated my day to have to worry about getting back to town in time. That was hard and some of our fun homeschooling activities, like a park day in the Quad Cities, just didn’t happen that often. Overall, though, I am pleased with her year. She brought home some really wonderful art projects and a great class book that her teacher had them put together. And most importantly, she likes it and is excited to go back to 4th grade.

Anna continues to play piano, and she added Girl Scouts and Tae Kwan Do to her list of activities this year and has been playing ball this spring.

ben Ben is 7 and finished 1st grade. He is usually a cheerful and loving child, interested in nature, riding his bike, and making weapons and duck tape creations. My approach to homeschooling so far for the younger children has been pretty hands off, bordering on unschooling. I let them explore, take them out into nature often, and read books. Anna learned to read on her own when she was 5 and I kept thinking Ben would learn too, in his own time. Around Christmas it became obvious to me that he wasn’t learning like she did and I started to get a little concerned. We stared working through Explode the Code books and the Spelling Workout: Level A from Modern Curriculum Press. Ben also worked quite a lot on Reading Eggs for something different. I shared more about our First Grade Curriculum in this post, if you’re curious.

Basically, since Christmas, we have been working on reading. It’s slow going with him and frustrating for me. He learns so differently than Anna did and I really have to work hard to remain patient as he is frustrated with all the words that break the rules. I can’t blame him for that, but it’s been hard on both of us. We are continuing to work with him this summer and we’re taking a new approach – just having him memorize words. I didn’t do that much with him, see disclosure above about me being bad about drilling basic facts. I often think reading will click for him when he’s ready and I need to stop pushing him. And then I think I have to do more. Help him figure it out. I don’t know what the right answer is. For the time being, he is working with his supervisory teacher a bit, and I am trying really, really, really hard to be patient and not lose my temper. It’s tough.

Ben played flag football and started taking Tae Kwan Do lessons this past fall, and is currently playing ball. He’s really quite good at sports. And I’m thinking about starting him on piano in the fall.

cora Cora is 5 1/2 and finished up pre-school. She’s also been working through Reading Eggs and she worked through a few get ready for Kindergarten books from Kumon last year. She’s knows all of her letters and numbers and is really close to reading. She’s a master egg cracker and loves to help me bake bread. And she’s the only kid who will willingly clean the toilet! She really wants to go to public school kindergarten this fall and we are thinking of sending her.

Cora is playing ball this spring and really wants to take Tae Kwan Do with Anna and Ben in the fall! And sometimes, Anna tries to teach her how to play the piano.

sara And last but not least, here is Sara. Sara is quite the stinker at 3 years old. She’s often found hiding in the bathroom playing Angry Birds on the ipad! But she also love puzzles and building and reading books. Her favorite books right now are Alona Frankel’s Once Upon a Potty and I Want My Mother. It was a huge year for her. Sara potty trained all on her own and she weaned right before her third birthday. She’s also sleeping half the night in her own bed in her own room. Huge accomplishments this year! She’s definitely a mama’s girl, but she has been warming up to her dad quite a lot and she now loves her babysitter and hanging out with grandma too!

And that was our homeschooling year. Pop over to read about Savannah’s year with her 4 kids and Cheryl’s year with her 6 kids, if you are interested in seeing what other families were up to as well!

I hope you also had a good school year with your children!

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I tried teaching my 7 yr old boy the same way I taught his older siblings, and it just didn’t work well. I finally switched to using Dolch sight word flashcards with him, and it made a huge difference. We kept track of how many words he got right, and made it a game to try to improve each day. If you aren’t averse to bribery (er, incentive) then that tends to help. I don’t typically use food as a reward, but I made an exception and did have some small candies in a jar that he earned. His siblings were also included in the candy if they helped him practice. So it was a win/win for everyone.

    1. What you describe with the Dolch words is sort of what we’re doing right now, minus the candy. My problem with candy is it disappears when I’m not looking so I try not to keep a lot. I bet it would be very motivational, though! 🙂

  2. Looks like it was a great year overall! Reading is going slowly with my oldest son. It’s just not his strength. He’s more of a numbers guy 😛

  3. Michelle it looks like you had a busy school year. Your children are beautiful. I have found that none of my children seem to learn the same way as their siblings they all seem to have a different approach to learning. I so understand the patience part. It can be painful listening to them sound out the same word over and over, and you wonder when it is ever going to click. It’ll come in time. Here’s to a fantastic summer!

    1. Thank you Cheryl. It is painful! I just don’t understand it and I really need to work on my reaction. Thank you for the encouragement.

  4. Michelle,
    I loved hearing about your year of school and home! Remembering that it is a balancing act and that there is not a one-size-fits-all-kids solution is so important. As I work on myself and my own reactions to my five very different children, I see how simple, yet how complicated this is. Some do well in school, some enjoy their own company; how good that you can give them options, and that you can change that offer if it is not working out. Good luck to you, and thanks for sharing your musings. I will check out the other two mothers’ blogs today!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am looking to do a homeschooling series on my blog in July. I hope you will consider joining. 🙂

  6. I started homeschooling my 13 year old daughter last year. She is developmentally delayed and is far below grade level. Socially and emotional ally school was not a good place for her. One on one is better. I’m a certified teacher and gave up working to homeschool her. I also had my 4 year old home. My 12 year old went to school. Midway through the year I wanted my 12 year old home. I see how wonderful homeschooling is. Now school is getting ready to start again and I want my now kindergardener home. Unfortunately, my husband wants the other 2 in school. Just wondering why you sent one to school? I’m also trying to connect with other parents who are in the same boat as me….. One in school one at home.

    1. Hi Angela, Sorry for the delay in replying to you – we were on vacation and I’ve been playing catch up since we got back! We school based on each child. This year, we’re actually sending 2 off to public school – 4th grade & K. I just have to do what seems to be best for each child. I need to focus on my 2nd grader this year and distractions are hard. We play it by ear. I’m not sure how it will work out, but hopefully, everything will be fine in the end. 🙂 Best of luck to you!!