We are officially *finished* with school for this school year. Looking back this was by far our most successful year. My first year was only a partial year and was mostly focused on getting my bearings and figuring out how to be disappointed when things didn't go how I wanted. My second year was last year and we had a house fire in March. That should about sum up how that went!
This year was different. For the first time I really had two kids who were in with both feet. I've always had Montessori activities available for the smaller family members but there was no requirement or expectation. I had a plan but I was just as likely to abandon it as follow through. As long as there was relative peace in the house and mostly happy children, that was enough for me.
Truth be told I went into this year in a strange place. Caleb wasn't technically old enough for kindergarten, but I suspected that he was ready in all the important ways for a homeschooler. My teacher trained brain still struggles with letting the kids get too far away from grade level in any one direction so I chose the wait-and-see approach. I had goals for him, but they were based on simply slowly continuing through the Montessori 3-6 sequence. He, however, had other plans and by mid year it was fairly clear he was upping the game. My child who can't go to kindergarten until this fall (not that he is- this is me and those silly grades again- I just can't shake them) is now reading quite well. He's slow but persistent.
Persistence is a good word for Aidan's year too. Although we had some days with big attitude, he took off academically which I have been waiting to happen for about three years. He is taking more initiative and as a result the quality of his work has really increased. He's still a little behind in reading depending on the day. I think there is a fairly large gap between his abilities and his willingness, but he can read so I'm good with that. Math though- let me tell you that boy has his Daddy's brain when it comes to math. He just manipulates numbers in his head faster than I can even process them.
I gave up that area of the curriculum to Tim at the start of this school year and I'm glad that I did. Aidan has flown through everything we put in front of him and in most cases has figured out the abstract algorithms for operations far before we planned to teach them. It is a struggle to keep him with the materials long enough for him to know the facts well enough for abstraction. Towards the end of the year, Tim came across a research study on children who are gifted in mathematics that showed that sometimes using a manipulative actually slows down their learning because it physically gets in the way. We've seen some evidence of that with Aidan so we'll be doing some more research (ok, Tim will be and reporting back to me) and regrouping this summer. I've considered moving to a traditional curriculum but I have no idea where I would start with that.
I guess this means I think my kids are wonderful, amazing, and incredible. I am really proud of them for their accomplishments this year. They obviously are not perfect. We have days (and I mean THOSE kinds of days), but I'm grateful for the opportunity to be able to teach them at home where they can take their strengths and run with them. Even, maybe especially, when that challenges me. I never thought I would say this at the beginning of the year, but I'm even glad for the fresh start we have had in the past months. There were times I was ready to pack it up and head home, but we stuck it out and everyone is settling in.
Aidan will be starting competitive team for gymnastics when we get back from a Minnesota vacation in a few weeks. Caleb will be joining Scouts in the fall with other first graders with Daddy as his Tiger Cub leader, just like Tim was for Aidan. Sometime in August, our family will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and next year Aidan will complete his sacramental prep year for first Holy Communion.
I think this field day photo sums up how I feel about the end of this school year.