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Homeschool in Review: March 2024

After sharing a day in my homeschool, I’ve decided that it would be fun to begin recapping our homeschool months here on the blog. 

For reference, we use Ambleside Online and I have three boys. My eldest is 10 and in Y5T1, my second is 8 and in Y3T3, and my youngest is in Y1T2. Yes, they are all in different terms, and no, it’s not that complicated. I print out the PDF schedule for their respective years and terms, and after that it doesn’t make any difference to my planning.

This month has seen the second half of our winter term. To be honest, the first half of the term was rough. We returned home from a trip to the US on a Friday and started back on Monday. Combine that with me fitting a twelve week term into ten weeks and it felt like we were barely making it through our days a lot of the time. 

I did schedule a half-term break at the end of February, though, and I’m so glad I did. I came into March rested and ready to go. It was only a week off, but it was what we needed. I haven’t felt that sensation of “I’m going to stagger across the finish line this term,” which I had struggled with before our break.

What’s Worked Well

A few highlights of what we’re loving in our homeschool right now.

  • Start at eight. I have resisted having a scheduled start time for years and, to be fair, we haven’t really needed one. We’ve always started right after breakfast, or sometimes during breakfast. But over the last several weeks I’ve been swiftly approaching the end of my rope when it comes to our homeschool days dragging on into the afternoon. It’s just been miserable. Earlier this month we had a string of days when we happened to start at eight and, miraculously, we were done by lunch! My attitude was better, my kids were better motivated, and everything improved. So I’ve instituted a new rule: Mom and kids must be dressed and at the table by eight because we’re getting started.
  • Nature Study: I’ve been leading a nature study group for a few years, but I was at a bit of a loss for what to do in our group this term. I usually follow the AO nature study rotation, but ‘night sky’ isn’t suitable for our group. I asked my kids and they suggested that we study the weather and Google brought me The Study of the Weather from the Cambridge Nature Study Series. This is such a great book! It’s outdoor science lessons geared toward upper primary/early secondary students and written to the teacher. It includes activities for the group and home as well as questions to ask the students during the nature study session.
  • Ambleside Online Year Five: This my first term with a Y5, and my son really enjoys the books. I’m so glad that he likes his books!

What’s Not Worked Well

It’s really, really, really easy to give an impression that everything in homeschooling is wonderful, and I think it’s important to make it plain that I don’t get everything done, and that things don’t always run smoothly.

  • Maps and charts: This is one of those things that often gets lost over the course of a term. Currently I have everyone scheduled to do this at the same time on a Thursday, but as it’s not happening I clearly need to do a bit more planning and preparation.
  • Art: I picked up two levels of Artistic Pursuits (referral links to second-hand copies: one and two) while I was in the US. My Y5 is doing well with one lesson a week from the upper elementary curriculum, but my second son seems to have some of his mother’s art anxiety. We’re holding the course until the end of term, but I’m debating the way forward from here. I’m currently leaning toward having him move up to the higher level as it’s mostly in black and white and focused on realistic drawing (and I’m wondering whether it’s the frustration that his pictures don’t look realistic that is frustrating him).

Family Reading

Since we follow Ambleside Online with relatively few changes, I won’t share what my children are reading for school. Instead, here are some books we’ve enjoyed as family read alouds. The affiliate links take you to find a second hand copy.

  • Jeeves and Wooster short stories My husband is actually reading these to me, but I had some baking to do and so he read to all of us. My kids thought it was hilarious, and my husband and I are now trying to convince them to use the phrase “in the soup.”
  • Puck of Pook’s Hill My son requested a book that had “a bit of magic but was also in the real world,” and this fit the bill. We had Just So Stories and The Jungle Book as literature reads this term, so we made it a Kipling Extravaganza.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Yes, we’ve read this a load. But I like to start this book on Palm Sunday, read throughout Holy Week, timing it so that we read the chapter where Aslan dies on Good Friday. Then we don’t read on Holy Saturday, but finish the book on Easter Sunday. I never mention why, I just let it sink in.

Coming Up in April

We’ll enjoy a whirlwind Easter holiday (one week off!) and then get back into the swing of things. It’s a new term, so I’ll be especially targeting some of the challenges we had last term. I’m also thinking about introducing more structured work on the computer.

A letter from me to you, every week.

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