As we are about to embark on our 6th year of homeschooling, I’ve been reflecting back on the past 5 years and thinking about all the things we’ve done – the successes and the flops. Here is what I consider our Homeschool Greatest Hits – our top 5 in 5 years:
#1 – Good Starts
The first day of our first year of homeschool I made huge smiley face pancakes for the kids with fruit and chocolate chips. They absolutely loved it and insisted it be a tradition. It’s one we all look forward to each year. We always start off the year with big smiles!
I also like to have a good start to each day we homeschool. Sometimes schedules get crazy, but I’ve found that the days we start our mornings with what we call our “together time” tend to just be better days. It seems that if we miss that good start together, it is harder for everyone to stay focused and on task through the day.
Our morning “together time” looks like this:
-Bible study/Scripture memorization
–KidNuz Podcast (5 minute daily news for kids)
-Poetry (one poem or part of a poem a day)
*On Mondays we say the Pledge of Allegiance – This is something we added after the first year of homeschooling when I realized the kids were forgetting the Pledge! I’m not going to lie, it feels a little weird saying the Pledge of Allegiance in your house with your kids, but I feel like this is important.
#2 – Living Books for History
I always loved school as a kid, but history was never one of my favorites. As an adult and as a homeschooling mom, it is absolutely my favorite! I very much enjoy how we are learning about history, and I think it is beneficial for the kids in many ways.
We do not have a history textbook. We do have focused time periods in history that we study, and we read “living books” set in those time periods (this follows the Charlotte Mason method that I wrote about in this post). I read aloud historical fiction, biographies or autobiographies, and then the children do narrations after our reading (oral or written). They also write a book review when we are done reading each book. Our music, art, and geography are lined up with whatever time period we are reading about. All of these aspects: living books, narration, and cross-curricular teaching/learning really solidifies their knowledge and ability to articulate that knowledge.
Some of our favorite Living Books:
–Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt– (Civil War)
–Of Courage Undaunted by James Daugherty– (Lewis and Clark)
–Beorn the Proud by Madeleine A. Polland (Vikings)
–The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom– (WW2)
-The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan and John Bunyan: The Tinker of Bedford by William S. Deal
*I highly recommended reading both of these simultaneously! It is also my personal preference/recommendation to go for the original Pilgrim’s Progress as opposed to a children’s version. Even though the language can take a bit getting used to, they can handle it! And it also prompts good questions and discussions when something is worded in a way we’re not used to.
#3 – Finals Luncheon
At the end of each 9 week period we have finals week for every age/grade level – some tests, but also just time spent reviewing and discussing what we’ve learned. One year I decided I wanted them to have the opportunity to present what they had been working on, so we started planning a Grandparents’ Finals Luncheon.
The kids made invitations and sent them in the mail to their grandparents who lived nearby. They planned the meal for the luncheon, and then together we created and printed a program for the presentation. The Grandparents Finals Luncheon officially started with the kids putting their language study to practice by welcoming their grandparents and inviting them to eat in French. After the meal they took turns sharing Scripture and poetry they had memorized, piano pieces they had been working on, and speeches on their favorite areas of science and history we had been learning about.
The kids were so proud of themselves, the grandparents absolutely loved it, and as the mom-teacher, I was able to really see (assess) what all they had learned. You could say it was a win-win-win!
#4 – Home Library/Book Lists
I am a book lover. I used to play “librarian” when I was a little girl and organize and reorganize all my books. And not really on purpose, but I have gradually ended up with a collection of vintage books. I love taking the kids to the library, but a few years ago we started intentionally building up our home library with classics and age appropriate books for each of our kids. I love having so many good books right at their fingertips!
I also put together for each child a laminated book list for the year. They highlight the book titles after they read them. It is not required for them to read everything off of their list for the year, but it usually becomes a bit of a competition between one another or a personal challenge.
I pull from different resources when creating my kids’ book lists, but here is probably my favorite one.
#5 – Grocery Day
This last one is more of a life-skills part of homeschool. We want our children to be adept at important everyday skills and responsibilities such as meal planning, buying groceries, budgeting, and cooking. This combined with my desire to have some one-on-one time with each one of our kids led me to how we do our grocery day.
Everyone takes their turn for when it is their grocery day, and on their day they come with Mom to our favorite coffee shop. While we sip on our yummy drinks we make a dinner menu for the week – always including some family favorites and spending a few minutes on Pinterest for some newer recipes to try. Then we look at the grocery ad for the week to see what all is on sale and make our grocery list. That same child comes to the grocery and then gets to be the chef for dinner that night.
We don’t always get to do our grocery day like this just because life and schedules complicating things, but I very much love when we do, and so do the kids. Life-skills, special one-on-one time, and getting a normal family chore done all at the same time … another win-win-win!
That’s my top 5 in 5 years Homeschool Greatest Hits, but what about the kids? I was curious what some of their favorites were too. Here are their responses in no particular order:
#1 – Clipboard Charts
*For a couple years (and apparently maybe I need to bring them back) I had a clipboard for each child, and they would have a chart each week where I would fill in what their assignments were.
#2 – Writing in Cursive
#3 – Nature Walks
#4 – P.E.
*Our oldest son has always really been into physical activity and sports, so one year I had him take on the role of our homeschool P.E. teacher. He planned lessons and activities for all his siblings. He had fun leading, and they all had fun doing all kind of things from stretches to running laps around the lake to roller blading in the driveway and kickball in the yard.
#5 – LUOA
*So technically this one wasn’t mentioned by kids, but I wanted to include it! When our oldest started high school last year we decided to transition to an online high school program, and after much research, decided on Liberty University Online Academy. It has been a great experience, and I’m very thankful for this program.
*Other honorable mentions from kids: Pancakes, Reading the book The Hiding Place, math, and making covered wagons out of snacks (after reading Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr).
I hope some of our greatest hits can bring some inspiration to other homeschool families or maybe ones considering homeschool. I know I’ve gained tons of inspiration from other homeschool families sharing their ideas! Also – please know for as many greatest hits, there were probably twice as many flops! But that’s a post for another day …
Homeschool families – what are some of your greatest hits? It’s fun to look back and remember and super helpful for others to share. You can share here on the blog in the comments or find Wheels Up Family on Instagram or Facebook.