It’s the end of the school year – and the end of our home school year. Some families home school all year round, but we usually take a break during the summer, for several reasons. First of all, it gives me a break, and a chance to do some planning and research for next year. Second of all, it is wonderful to take things easy during the summer. We usually go to lots of parks, hang out at the library, go to the springs, and do fun art projects we didn’t get around to during the school year. Lastly, it is very difficult to get my children to focus on learning (even if it is a very fun game or activity) when the neighborhood kids are on summer break and having a blast with water balloons across the street.
The end of the school year is always the hardest for us. Everyone is tired of structure, and the demands of getting the garden in, milking, and all the spring work usually mean we have taken some extra breaks, and those extra breaks are hard to come off of.
This year things have been easier. I think I’ve finally learned how to manage the end of the year homeschool. We are avoiding a lot of book-work, and doing a math block with time, money, and measurement. It’s very informal, but at the same time I have been careful to have clear goals in mind for what we are studying. Last week we worked with money. The goals for us were for Rose to be able to identify the values of all the coins, know how many of each were in a dollar, and do some arithmetic around making change and adding.
The first day we talked about how much each coin was worth. I pointed out that nickels were larger, but less valuable than the dimes because of the different metals the coins are made from. Then we counted all the money in Rose’s piggy bank, which turned out to be much more than either of us thought it would be.
The second day we reviewed how much each coin was worth, and counted out a dollar’s worth of each one. Then we practiced making values in different ways with different coins (for example – finding all the different ways to make 25 cents).
The third day I would set out some coins and ask Rose to tell me how much there was, and how much we needed to make a certain amount. The fourth day we set up a pretend bakery and Rose was the cashier and had to make change (this was, of course, the best lesson!). We met all of our goals, it took only about an hour a day, and Rose was happy with the lesson and was able to focus and learn without getting distracted (except for when Clothilde tried to eat the money – but siblings doing weird things during lessons is just part of homeschool for us).