Homeschool in Review: May 2024

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Homeschool In Review

What happened to May? It feels like I wrote my review of April, blinked, and all of the sudden it’s nearly June!

For reference, I have three boys and we are using AmblesideOnline. At the end of the month I now have: Age 10 in Year 5, Term 2, Age 9 in Year 4, Term 1, and Age 6 in Year 1, Term 3.

May is a little tricky scheduling-wise as we have two bank holiday Mondays when my husband is off work. Typically I’ve done school with the kids on these days because I haven’t wanted to catch up on the following Friday, but this term I decided to try not scheduling anything except independent work for my older two which they caught up on over the week that followed.

This worked better than I imagined. We managed to stay on track with nearly everything as we came into our half term break this week. We only needed to do car-schooling once on a long drive to the zoo to make up for missing lessons that morning.

Apart from getting things done, we’ve finally had some nice weather, so lots of hikes, cycle rides, and even a few visits to the beach.

What’s Worked Well

A few highlights of what we’re loving in our homeschool:

  • MEP Year Five Math. Year Four math was a slog for my eldest. We made it through, but it was a challenge. So it’s perhaps counterintuitive that he is moving through Y5 math at twice the pace and that he will finish his book an entire term early. Here’s the thing: Y5 math introduces fractions and decimals and so the arithmetic involved is downright EASY, especially after a year of long division and multiplication. We’re looking at four weeks of math, mostly probability (which he loves), and then he will start Y6 in the autumn. His confidence in math is up which is great to see as well.
  • All those checklists. I spend a lot of time scheduling. I know. And I have four spreadsheets that I consult on any given school day, not including the checklists I have for my kids. But there is just something about rolling into the last week of lessons before a break and seeing that you are on track (despite not everything going to plan over the course of six weeks) that feels so good

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.

  • My attention. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like my attention is all over the place. I’m not sure if it’s just bad habits, or whether there are some structural challenges in my weekly routine, but as much as I want to use my time intentionally, I find I squander a lot of it. I’ve tried several iterations of stepping back and looking at the big picture, planning, scheduling, et cetera, but I feel like I’m missing something.
  • Artist Study. We made a turn with composer study this year – I finally started letting my kids watch videos of the performances and now they are super into it. (They frequently want to share them with their dad which is the ultimate stamp of approval). I’d love to see similar buy-in on artist study and it just isn’t happening. We do it, and we are consistent, but we need to get some attitudes in place that take it more seriously.

Family Reading

  • Leave It to Psmith by Wodehouse. (referral link) We started this as a family read aloud last month and just finished it. My six year old had a bit of trouble following the plot, but there were lots of laughs from everyone. Some great quotes, too…”Across the pale parabola of joy…”
  • The Picts and the Martyrs by Arthur Ransome. (referral link) We’ve been slowly reading through the Swallows and Amazons series and we are coming close to the end. It seemed appropriate to start this as sailing season is now upon us.

Personal Reading

  • Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell. (referral link) Her last and slightly-unfinished novel. I loved getting caught up in this reread from my university years.
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. (referral link) A reread from my bookshelf. I think there is a real challenge here, even for people who don’t have a job job. Depth and focus matter.
  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. (referral link) A comfort read straight out of my early teen years. Sometimes you just need a little Arthurian lit in your life. Looking at this list I can’t tell whether I am in a nostalgic mood or whether the budget for new books is low…

Let the Mother Go Out to Play

It’s been so good to see the sunshine again, and it’s been good to go and play. 

  • Beach! We’ve enjoyed two family trips to the beach and one with me and two of the boys. Twice we managed to cycle there and back. The water is a lovely 57 degrees F/14 degrees C, so it’s been a good time to get back into swimming after several months’ break.
  • Walks! My kids grumble a bit about hiking, but we’ve enjoyed trips to Arnside and Abbeystead with friends. Somehow having other people with us inspires some stoicism from the children when they would otherwise complain.

Charlotte Mason tells the mother to go out and play without any children, so these activities don’t quite fit the bill, but I’m expecting my new Nordic walking poles to arrive by post in the next few days. I’m hoping to rack up some miles soon!

Coming Up in June

Like I mentioned above, sailing season is upon us. I have one son who is taking lessons in June and my husband will also frequently be off (often with my son) to sail as well. My menu plan includes one ‘packable’ dinner each week, and I anticipate that happening fairly often over the next several weeks, if not through all the summer months.

We will be negotiating school around weekly morning lessons, which poses a bit of a challenge. I’ve attempted to accommodate this in our schedule, but we are still probably looking at Friday lessons for the month.

Also, this is my youngest’s last few weeks in Year One! You will find me sobbing over the end of Paddle to the Sea in July.

A letter from me to you, every week.

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