A and I have two days of school left this year. By design, this week has been a light week. We are two math lessons away from finishing our math book and have spent the rest of our time reviewing history and reading lots of library books. As A has been reviewing, I've been doing my own survey as well. How has this first year of homeschooling gone? Better than I could ever have expected is the short answer. The long answer? Read on. That's basically what this post will be about.
Academically, we didn't cover everything I thought we would, nor did we cover it the way I thought we would. I had grand plans for regularly spaced author studies and composer studies. Those fell by the wayside. I bought a grammar curriculum, which we started, slogged halfway through and finally quit. A absolutely detested it and, in retrospect, I shouldn't have purchased a grammar book with "analytical" in the title for my math-averse daughter. My bad. Shelve it and move on.
But in not covering everything I thought we would, we learned a lot that I didn't know we would learn. We did a few unit studies - at Thanksgiving, Advent and Lent and on the subject of oceanography. We both loved incorporating the church calendar into our school calendar and the unit studies gave us a nice break from routine when we needed it. I'm already planning similar breaks for next year. We learned less science than I would have liked - all my fault. But the science we learned, we learned by reading about scientists and doing a unit study - both methods that worked well for A.
And we incorporated literature at every turn. If we studied a person or historical event and there was a novel that I could tie in, I tied it in. I have no idea how many books A read this year, but it has to be well over 100. Even in the midst of our light wrap up week, she's also been working on a report about The Old Man and the Sea, which we read to conclude our oceanography study. As I've looked back and noticed the gaps I left in A's education this year, I've also reminded myself that the girl is clearly learning. I gave A a series of essay questions about The Old Man and the Sea. One of the questions read, "What is Manolin's role in this story? Do we see Santiago through his own eyes or Manolin's for most of the book? Why did Hemingway include Manolin? What would the book have been like without him?" Here is A's (unedited) response:
Manolin's role in the story is to love and take care of the old man. We see Santiago through Manolin's eyes for most of this story. We see Santiago as a brave, strong, old man. I believe that Hemingway included Manolin to take care of him and adore him. Every hero has an admirer. Without Manolin, the admirer might have been a wife, a little girl, or even a dog.
This is not the response I anticipated when I asked the question. In fact, I hadn't even thought about the fact that without Manolin we might read the story and not see Santiago as a hero. But A is right - because the boy admired the old man so much, I did, too. I didn't even realize I was seeing the story through Manolin's eyes until she explained it this way. So whatever else she didn't learn this year, I'm holding on to this one. This one answer that shows me that she is thinking critically, reading closely and learning while she goes - no matter what I do right or wrong.
Our year certainly wasn't without bumps. Even today, A sighed, put her head on the table and complained, "I'm bored." This utterance came at 9 AM when she had only three tiny items to complete today. I not-so-kindly offered to give her a far heavier workload to alleviate her boredom. So yes, there are days when she doesn't want to work. Even A herself noticed this. As she prepared for her year end history review, she read through her history notes and essay questions. She came to me and said, "Some of this isn't very good. I can tell I tried on some of it and I didn't on others. Some of my paragraphs are good and some aren't." Yes, dear, you're exactly right. And that's just life, isn't it? We all have days that are less productive. Days when we'd rather just stay in bed or read a book or read a book in bed all day. But we get up anyway and slog through it. And sometimes it shows that we were just slogging through.
A year ago I had no idea how this homeschooling thing would go. I didn't know what curriculum to buy. I couldn't find the information I needed all in one place. I feared it would be exhausting and hard and draining and that I might fail. All of that has happened. But it's also been relaxing, fun, interesting and I'm content. The way I see it, that's a pretty good year end review.