• Our Homeschool Year Review - What Worked and What Didn't
    homeschool planning,  real homeschool stories

    A Review of Our Homeschool Year – What Worked and What Didn’t

    Yesterday morning I officially declared our homeschool year “over”.

    The truth is, we never stop learning (and I actually have some intentional learning planned for the summer) but it’s nice to have an official start and stop to the year. Plus, I like to start after the regular school kids and stop before them -because why not?! #benefitsofhomeschooling

    I am really excited for the plans I have for our learning this summer (and into the fall) I’m making some changes and I think it is going to be so good. But before I go into them I wanted to do a review of the last year. This review is good for myself and it’s a good place to point people to when they have questions as to why we are making a few changes.

    Whether you had a stellar year or a much-less-than-stellar one I think taking time to review the year is always a good idea. As you may be able to tell by the name of this site my goal is to be intentional with our learning and part of being intentional is taking time to think about what is and isn’t working.

     

    Our Homeschool Year Review - What Worked and What Didn't

     

    Our school year actually started out with an attempt at following Charlotte Mason’s method but that quickly went by the wayside and by the end we were pretty much unschooling. (Though I still really love a lot about the CM method and do hope to follow it more closely one day.)

    Let’s get into the details of what worked and what didn’t:

     

    THINGS THAT WORKED WELL

    I want to start by sharing some things that worked well this year, unfortunately I could only come up with two things for this list:

    LUNCHTIME AUDIOBOOKS – we continued to listen to our audiobook almost every weekday at lunch. There are a couple of reasons we listen to audiobooks at lunch, one is so we can add more books into the day and the second is because my kids are big talkers and it’s nice to have them quiet for a bit. #momconfessions

    WEEKLY RECORD – a few months ago I created a mini planner for myself and I have been using the weekly planner sheets ever since. They have been great for documenting the stuff we actually do (since I don’t like to make a big plan ahead of time).

     

    For the Mama Who Thinks She Couldn't Homeschool *Insert Subject Here*

     

    THINGS THAT DIDN’T WORK WELL

    During most of the school year this year things felt really good. We were quite unschooly and it felt like it was working for us. I even chose to not go to our homeschool convention because I didn’t want to feel like I needed to teach my kids in a different way, but taking time to look back on our year at the tail end of it I realized it was not the kind of year I want to be the norm.

    A lot of my struggles this last year are my own fault, this winter felt long, dark and cold and felt like a true spiritual winter. It was hard to motivate myself to do the necessities, never mind teach my children well.

    A few other struggles in our homeschool this year (most of which I am sure were directly affected by the place I was in):

    TOO MUCH SCREEN TIME – it was a record breaking cold winter so I feel a little justified but it was still too much, I wish I would have done more intentional activities instead of just taking the easy way out and letting them watch something or play on screens.

    THE KIDS BICKERED A LOT – prior to this past winter both my kids have gotten along very well, I mean, they are siblings so there have been squabbles but this winter was excessive.

     

    Our Homeschool Year Review - What Worked and What Didn't

     

    READING STRUGGLES – my one goal for kindergarten for both my kids has been for them to learn to learn to read and so this was my goal for my son this year but it was a real struggle. He is a very smart kid and can tell you all about what a gyroscope is but when it comes to reading . . . I understand that he just turned six and boys are often later to learn to read but there have been some major red flags popping up so I’m currently doing some research to see how I can best help him.

    LACK OF INTENTIONAL GET TOGETHERS – while we still saw lots of people this winter through church and hosted 20+ people in our home most weeks I do wish I would have been more intentional with getting together with more homeschoolers throughout the winter. This has picked up since it started getting warmer and made me realize how much I missed it.

     

    Our Homeschool Year Review - What Worked and What Didn't

     

    ALL IN ALL

    While there isn’t much in the “things that worked well” category and the “things that didn’t work well” is a bit depressing, I still feel like we are called to homeschool and I am looking forward to starting a new year.

    I can see now that a lot of what didn’t work was that we left out some things that we really love and I have been working on creating some changes and have a bit of a summer learning plan I hope to share next week!

     

    Our Homeschool Year Review - What Worked and What Didn't

    How did you school year go? What worked and didn’t work for you?

  • Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers
    homeschool planning,  homeschooling as a lifestyle,  methods & philosophies,  minimalist homeschooling,  real homeschool stories,  relaxed homeschooling,  resources

    The Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner

    Today I’m excited to share something with you that I have been thinking about for quite some time: a homeschool mini planner!

    I am a planner girl through and through but traditional planners and most homeschool planners don’t work with our relaxed/minimal/homeschooling as a lifestyle ways.

    I like to have a little bit of planning but also a fair bit of just documenting what we did.

    I also knew I wanted there to be prompts for different areas of our homeschool because sometimes I forget how much the kids are learning as we go about our daily lives.

    Enter the Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner:

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    I am super excited about this planner because I made it functional for the way we homeschool and I can use it year round, making my year end homeschool report to our school division a lot easier.

    Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?!?!

     

    WHAT YOU’LL FIND IN THE MINI PLANNER

    Curious about what the Mini Planner all entails? Read on!

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    MONTHLY PLANNING SHEETS

    There are monthly planning sheets for each of the 12 months. I like to go into a month with a bit of a plan and on the monthly plan page I’ve included space for you to write out:

    • encouraging words
    • your theme for the month
    • habits you want to work on
    • upcoming field trips
    • goals for the month
    • resources you want to use/may need to request from the library or friends
    • books you want to read that month
    • space for gratitude – because I always need a reminder to stop and be grateful

     

    This type of planning works perfectly for me and I know it will also work for my rebellious homeschool sisters who like to have a bit of a plan but don’t follow a strict schedule or routine. This type of planning helps me be intentional with my homeschool without feeling boxed in.

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    WEEKLY RECORD

    My favorite pages in the mini planner are the weekly record pages. Not only is there space for the typical subjects but I also have a section titled “questions we explored” because my kids’ questions take us on so many great tangents. Another one of my favorites is the “best quote” space – because kids are always throwing some great quotes out there!

    Here’s exactly what you’ll find on the weekly record pages:

    • top priority
    • best quote
    • read alouds
    • extracurricular
    • English
    • science and technology
    • math
    • history
    • independent reads
    • games played
    • friends we saw (you know, in case people ask you how the socialization is going 😉)
    • highlights
    • geography
    • the arts
    • other
    • questions we explored

     

    I like to have this weekly page out in a high traffic area so I can use it to jot down questions as they come up and other things that I can document.

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    UNIT STUDY PLANNER

    One area I would like to try to do better in is doing some unit/theme studies. We’ve enjoyed them when we’ve done them but they take more planning than I’ve been doing lately so I created a unit study planner to help me with this!

    The unit study planner includes space for:

    • the unit you want to study
    • dates you will study them
    • fun fact you learned
    • relevant field trips
    • books
    • videos
    • other resources
    • projects

     

    I hope to be using the unit planner in the very near future!

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    BOOK LISTS

    No planner can be made by Chantel if it does not include book lists.

    I think that’s a rule. So, there are some book list printables!

    Included is a simple “Books to Read” page that has a section for picture books and chapter books as well as a “Books Read” sheet where you or your kids can fill out a mini review on books you’ve read, the mini review includes:

    • the book title
    • author
    • publication year
    • your rating
    • and a few lines for a review/favorite quote/summary/whatever else you want to include there – I think this will be really nice to look back on and see what you’ve thought of the books you’ve read.

     

    SEE IT IN USE

    Curious how we are using the mini planner? Here are a couple of sample pages, I’ll add more as time goes on!

     

    Raeca has been using the book review sheets to record her independent reads. She’s got some really cute reviews going on:

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

     

    A small peek into our weekly record, I’ll share more of these soon!

    For the Mama Who Thinks She Couldn't Homeschool *Insert Subject Here*

     

    And that’s the Intentional Homeschooling Mini Planner

    I hope you enjoy this freebie!

    Happy homeschool planning my friends!
  • Favorite Free Homeschool Resources
    homeschool basics,  homeschool planning

    Where to Start When You Want to Homeschool

    I get a lot of questions about how to start homeschooling, or what a person should do when they have decided to homeschool and I wanted to have a good reference post to be able to send people to: hence this post!

    If you are contemplating homeschooling or at the beginning of your journey I hope this post can be helpful! If you still have questions after reading this post I would love for you to contact me and I will do my best to try to answer your questions.

     

    Where to start when you want to homeschool

     

    WHERE TO START WHEN YOU DECIDE TO HOMESCHOOL

     

    #1 FIGURE OUT THE LEGAL SIDE

    I’m not really going to go into this because this part varies so much depending where you live but the first thing you really need to do is find out what you need to do to make your homeschool legal. Where I live this is as simple as registering with our school division but I know the process can vary depending where you live.

     

    #2 DECIDE YOUR PRIORITIES

    When I posted the “where to start” question on Instagram awhile ago a lot of people recommended starting with what I have down as step #3, but I personally think that before you can figure out #3 you need to decide your priorities.

    You are more than welcome to change your answers but if you decide arts are a big priority for you that could change your direction compared to if you decided nature and outdoors activities were a top priority.

    For us big priorities, in no particular order, are: family culture, character development, learning about Christ and to be like Christ and lots and lots of books.

    Knowing your top priorities will really help guide your homeschool method, resources you use and your daily schedule.

     

    Where to start when you want to homeschool

     

    #3 PICK A HOMESCHOOLING PHILOSOPHY OR METHOD THAT RESONATES WITH YOU

    I’m not going to get into the methods now but to read about what are (in my option) the five most popular homeschooling methods you can do that here.

    Before you get worried that you have to agree to a homeschool philosophy, let me put your mind at ease, you definitely don’t, plus, one of the methods is “eclectic” which means you pull from a variety of methods and one is “unschooling”.

    But, that being said, if you know a particular method resonates with you, say Charlotte Mason, or the classical approach, it makes it easier to find resources. With your philosophy in mind you can go to Google or Pinterest and look for resources that follow that method.

     

    #4 DESCHOOL

    Even if you are starting to homeschool in kindergarten and your kids have never been to school, chances are you have been and you probably need some time to remove old ideas you have about “what school should look like”. Deschooling often is more of a process for the parents than it really is for the kids.

    Deschooling helps get rid of a lot of homeschooling misconceptions. The truth is, homeschooling does not have to look like school at home. I appreciate those in the UK who have the term “home educating”, because that is what it really is, it is just learning at home.

    Another thing to realize is that kids learn a lot through play. This is something I never really believed in until I saw it in my own kids.

     

    Where to start when you want to homeschool

     

    #5 START SMALL

    When you are ready to jump in with homeschooling, it’s best to start small. Don’t start off by purchasing an all in one curriculum. While I personally don’t like curriculums I know some people enjoy them. I’m not necessarily saying never use a curriculum, I just don’t think the best time to buy one is at the beginning of your homeschool journey.

    When you are ready to start, begin with a couple of read alouds and a couple of subjects or topics that interest you or your kids. From there you can decide if a full curriculum is what you want or not.

    Using this technique I learned that I view homeschooling as a lifestyle – I like to teach my kids things I’m excited about, dig deeper into topics that interest them and make time for learning and rabbit trails in our day.

     

    Those five points are the basis for starting to homeschool. Once you’ve done these steps you can choose to continue the route you have started down or change things up. Homeschooling is flexible and that is a great perk to take advantage of!

    If you like the idea of a homeschooling approach that is relaxed, mostly interest-led, with lots of good books and space in the day for following rabbit trails I would suggest taking my Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop. I’ll be updating the workshop in the next two months and adding a lot of extra content to it and if you enroll now you’ll have first access to the updates.

     

    OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

  • Nature Study Resources - A Butterfly is Patient
    charlotte mason,  homeschool planning,  methods & philosophies

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And Why We are Switching to it

    I know many of you have already started your homeschool year. Here where we live the school system doesn’t start back until the day after Labor Day and while we usually start our homeschool year earlier this year we are delaying until at least the Wednesday after Labor Day.

    A large part of this delay is the fact that we (I) recently decided to switch things up and we will be following the Charlotte Mason method this year.

    Our previous method I dubbed Homeschooling as a Lifestyle and while I still really love this method there are a few different things that have us switching to Charlotte Mason this year.

    I am just finishing planning our homeschool curriculum for the year and plan on sharing that soon as well as a post on how you can create your own Charlotte Mason curriculum.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

     

    WHY WE ARE SWITCHING TO CHARLOTTE MASON

    So, why the switch? First off, and kind of surprising, my daughter and I are both looking for a bit more of a routine and schedule this year. We are both rebels and don’t really like following a schedule but it feels like it would be a good change for us this year.

    Also, it was actually the Charlotte Mason method that had me falling in love with the idea of homeschooling years ago. While it was unknown to me at the time the group of ladies that I followed on Instagram that had such inspiring homeschool photos were all following the Charlotte Mason method and so many of the aspects that I loved about their homeschooling were pulled directly from Miss Mason.

    Thirdly, I really resonate with a lot of the main points Charlotte Mason tried to teach, some of them come naturally to me and others don’t, so I think this will be a great year of growth.

    And lastly (at least for now), what I really love about the Charlotte Mason method is how simple it is. We really try to have a minimal homeschool (and home) and I think this works very well with Charlotte’s method.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    WHERE TO LEARN ABOUT CHARLOTTE MASON’S METHOD

    Want to learn more about Charlotte Mason’s method? There are a few books I would recommend: I am currently reading through Charlotte Mason’s Home Education series, there are six volumes and I am just over halfway through the first. It will take me awhile to get through them all. Though, even before reading the series I would highly recommend reading A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, it’s an easier read and gives a good overview of Charlotte’s philosophy.

    In this post I am going to highlight ten of the major distinctions of the Charlotte Mason (though there are a few more, I’m keeping it to ten) and give you a bit of an idea on how we are going to be applying them into our homeschool.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    LIVING BOOKS

    If you have been around here for any length of time you’ll know that we love books in our family, and not just any books, good books. Charlotte Mason promoted what she called living books, she didn’t use textbooks but rather preferred to use books that included first hand stories or books where the author was knowledgeable and passionate about the topic. She wanted children to read the best of the best, not dumbed down, twaddle books.

    “One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.”
    – Charlotte Mason
    I’ve got a number of living book lists started that I will be sharing over the course of the next few months, stay tuned for that!

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    NARRATION

    Charlotte Mason also taught about the idea of narration, which is such a simple and yet effective teaching strategy. To put it simply, after reading a passage from a living book to a child you will ask them to tell back the story in their own words. This not only works as a method of testing (it gives you a chance to see how much the child understood) it also helps to cement the lesson in the child’s mind. Often to really learn something it is best to teach it, and this is a very simple way to do so.

    Charlotte suggestions not starting narration until the child is six though I think it depends on the child. My five year old actually enjoys narration more than my seven year old and is better at it at this point. If he wants to narrate I’m not going to say no!

    She also suggests by starting slow, maybe you read one paragraph of a story and then get them to narrate that one paragraph, slowly increasing the length of the passage they narrate. This is also where short chapters are good. I’ve found so far that Little Pilgrim’s Progress is my kids’ favorite book to narrate and the chapters are short so usually they narrate back after I read half or a full chapter.

    As children narrate you can copy their words down for them and as they get older they can start writing down their own narrations and doing a combination of drawn and written narrations.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    FORMATION OF HABITS

    I think every mother understands the benefits of teaching children habits, though it can be a long road there. Unfortunately, I don’t think I did a good job in my first few years of parenting working on good habits so we have some bad habits to unlearn while trying to learn good habits.

    I think I will probably share a full post about habits in the future, there is so much to say on this topic!

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    NATURE STUDIES

    Nature studies is a large part of the Charlotte Mason method, one that I aspire to enjoy but it is definitely not my natural nature to want to spend time outdoors (I’m a bookworm content to sit in one chair and read book after book). I have learned so much in our nature studies so far and have been really enjoying it.

    Also a full post on this topic to come!

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

    How beautiful is this nature journal from 1906? It’s The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady. #goals

     

    SHORT LESSONS

    Charlotte Mason was a big believer in short lessons, 20 minutes on one topic for elementary students before moving on to a different topic. Of course this idea just makes sense if you know young children, while you want them to build the habit of attention you also need to work with their natural abilities.

    With the idea of short lessons you can cover a variety of different subjects and topics in one day.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    COPYWORK

    Charlotte also encouraged copywork, from my understanding this is to teach children to print perfectly; by copying from a perfect example they will learn how to print neatly, spell correctly and the major rules of grammar.

    Copywork is really easy to do, I love finding poems, Bible verses or quotes for my children to copy from.

     

    PICTURE STUDY

    Picture study is what Charlotte called the study of great art. Children would look at and study one piece of art and then retell all the details they could recall from the piece.

    We will be following her idea of studying one artist per term and studying a handful of that artists works. Near the end of the term the kids will be able to pick their favorite piece to try to replicate to the best of their ability.

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    HYMN STUDY

    We will also be studying hymns, one every month or so. We will be learning the history behind the hymn (so many great stories behind them!) and learning all the lyrics.

     

    SHAKESPEARE

    Charlotte also believed that children should study Shakespeare, I personally enjoy a challenge so we are going to give it a try! We are going to start out by using Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. I read a few of Shakespeare’s stories in high school and university and honestly didn’t really understand any of them, I’m hoping to be able to teach them to my children in a way that actually makes sense (to them and me!).

     

    What is the Charlotte Mason method? And why we are switching to it.

     

    FOREIGN LANGUAGE

    Another aspect of Charlotte Mason homeschooling is the study of a foreign language! I think it makes the most sense to pick a language you are the most interested in. My daughter and I have been learning Spanish but we recently made some decisions as a family to plan for a Europe trip in about two years and visit France and Italy so my husband and children have decided to learn French and I’m learning Italian. Since we recently made the language switch I need to find some resources for both of these languages.

     

    And that’s the Charlotte Mason method and why we are switching to it in a nutshell! If you have any questions or want to share what you love about the CM method leave me a note in the comments below!

    I will be sharing our full Charlotte Mason schedules for kindergarten and grade three soon!

  • Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Sheets
    free printables,  homeschool planning,  real homeschool stories,  un-planner

    The Homeschool un-Planner – Free Printable Monthly Record Sheets

    I remember at the beginning of every school year in middle school and high school vowing to make that the year that I kept my binder and notes much more organized. That generally lasted about a month and by the time Christmas came my binder was a complete disorganized mess.

    Was I the only that went through this?

    This year I find myself making this same promise to myself as a homeschooling parent. Though the problem is not that my notes have gotten disorganized, it’s that I stopped taking any! And we’ve been doing some pretty neat stuff, so I want to make sure I keep track of it.

     

    Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Records Sheets

     

    Last week I finished our homeschool portfolio for the year that I had to submit to our school division, the portfolio is really simple and I am happy to do that little bit of work for the little bit of monetary reimbursement the division gives us. But, it was a struggle to fill out our last few months because I simply stopped writing down what we had been doing.

    I like the idea of a homeschool planner but if you’ve read about how I prefer to reverse schedule actually planning out our day doesn’t really work for us, I prefer to write down what we’ve done instead of what we plan on doing.

     

    Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Records Sheets

     

    I decided to create some printables for myself in hopes to keep myself a little more organized this year. And since we’ve already started the new school year a few months early I printed out June and have already started keeping track.

    I made a page for jot notes of what we’ve done for the month and since Ephraim is starting kindergarten I will be printing out a different jot note page for each of my kids to keep their stuff separate. But because we do a lot of our major topics together I also created another page where I could record our major topics for the month as well as our read alouds (which are usually audiobooks).

    Once upon a time I had thought of creating a homeschool planner but knew that wouldn’t work for my personality and homeschooling style so I’m calling this the Homeschool un-Planner, which is a much more appropriate title.

     

    Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Sheets

     

    I thought I would share the printables with anyone else who likes to reverse schedule and instead likes to write down what they’ve done instead of what they are going to do. I have a lot of ideas for future pages for the un-Planner but if you have some ideas feel free to leave me a comment below!

    Ready for the pages?

    Download them here!

    Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Sheets