Homeschooling: Transitioning to Second Grade

This is a rambling, “thinking out loud” post as I think about our plans for homeschool.

Last summer seemed to have a mind of its own, and my idea to continue homeschooling through the summer quickly went out the window. After that experience, I don’t feel it’s necessary for us to homeschool through the summer. I think we all need a nice long break sometimes.

This summer is presenting me with another option though. After being sick for quite a while and going on vacation, I came back and felt like continuing our learning routine. There’s something about having a little structure to our day that feels good. I don’t know if I’ll continue this through the whole summer, but I have some things I want to accomplish before we take a longer break.

I noticed that we have only three more chapters in Life of Fred: Cats, which is our math curriculum. (Did I tell you we picked that up again? Yes, we did! I’ll write more on that later.) We’re also starting to do reading practice in some longer chapter books. (I’ve been using the recommended book list at the back of 100 Easy Lessons as well as some reading material my son picked.)

At some point we’re going to do what we did last year: an end of the year review. I have given myself the deadline of “sometime in the summer.” I think that’s a good, realistic goal. I have already written his progress report (which is part of Georgia law). Now I’m trying to decide what kind of slideshow I want to make. Last year I used PowerPoint, but I may just make one in my photo program.

The slideshow is a great way for my son to see everything he’s done. It gives him a feeling of accomplishment. I also give him a little certificate and a small present – something fun that helps him continue with his studies.

As I complete these end-of-the-year goals, I will write about them. (If you want to know how I write our progress report, you can see my Printables Page or e-mail me for more details.)

I’m also excited to be looking forward to next year, which will be 2nd grade for my seven-year-old (although he will be eight when we begin). I will be continuing what we’ve been doing, but I just looked through a big drawer of educational materials that my teacher-sister has sent to me over the past few years. I was happy to find plenty of materials that I think he’s ready for, so I’m considering how I might use them, or if I need to. More about that later.

I’m also going to consider that my four-year-old (soon-to-be five-year-old) is in pre-K starting this fall. My only goal for him will be to learn his letters and the sounds really well. (He knows most of the letters already, and numbers and everything else he’s quite skilled at already.) We’ll see how that goes. He’s a different kind of learner than his brother, and he has different strengths. I’m not going to push him, but I’m going to be a little more intentional about teaching him. Part of the reason I’m doing this is because he has started to show an interest – he’s pretending to write a lot, and he’s enjoying the practice writing sheets I’m giving him while I do lessons with his brother. So we’ll go slow and at his pace.

You may wonder why I bother using grade levels? Yes, I think grade levels are arbitrary, and I want to go by my sons’ abilities and interests rather than pigeonhole them. But I also find it useful to gauge where they are and what I might introduce to them. I have no problem pulling back, if they balk at something, but why not continue to move forward, if we can? While I want to follow my children’s interests, I also want to give them a very solid education, so I’m going to tick boxes without them knowing about it.

Within our child-centered, project-based homeschool, I find I’m able to “tick” most boxes without trying. It’s amazing what kids will learn when given the freedom to do so. But I’m also balancing that by filling in a few gaps. I like using grade levels (the grade level I give them – most kids start earlier than mine) because it gives us a framework to work within. Plus I’m just one of those people who like to organize things. But I totally get why other people choose to ditch grade levels altogether.

So, I’m getting ready for our end-of-year review. I’m so excited! It’s hard to believe that my seven-year-old has almost completed 1st grade! The year went so fast!

Here’s a little of what you can expect from me as I find the time to write it:

  • Project-based Homeschooling posts on DNA, pottery, and other building projects
  • Something about my son’s summer camps
  • Homeschooling: Things I’ve tried that didn’t stick (I’ve wanted to write this a long time.)
  • Our 1st grade year review and progress report
  • My new sketchbook habit

I can’t promise anything, of course, but by writing out my intentions here, I’ll be more likely to follow-up!

Are you homeschooling through the summer? What fun plans do you have for the summer?

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