A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Daddy Debrief:  YEAR of Discoveries

By David DeWitt

We are nearing the end of our first year of homeschool. Going into it, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but it felt like the right thing.

Now having gone through a whole school year, I can say with certainty that I’m still not sure what I’ve gotten myself into but it feels like the right thing.

I started out thinking I had to make sure Finn “kept up,” so to speak.  But most of the time I have to shift gears to keep up with him.

I used the Christopherus Curriculum and supplemented with The Mind Up curriculum. For the most part they have worked well but I’ve found some things don’t ring true for him and I have to wing it.

Since we are learning at home I try to teach the practical applications of everything we’re learning. I know that will get harder as time goes on.

When I was growing up, school was focused on teaching and passing tests but not necessarily on fostering a lifetime of learning. One of my goals is to make learning fun for him.

Erin’s Mom is visiting this week. She commented, after Finn had been telling her about everything he was learning, “I don’t think I’ve ever met a child more joyful about learning!”

Some days I feel like a rock star. Other days I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants.

I have found, for myself (as I’m sure homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all thing) that paying attention to where his interests are on any given day has helped immensely.

When I’ve planned for the day to be about math but he asks a million questions about the solar system at breakfast, then I change my plan. We go where his curiosity leads.

Finn has always asked a lot of questions and most of the time that works great.

I had a crazy notion that he might ask fewer questions once we started homeschool but the opposite may be true. Only now, if he is really interested in something we’re reading about at night he’ll say:

“Oh, can we learn more about that in homeschool?”

I have learned it’s better to focus on one subject for most of the day, though we always touch on language and writing a little everyday.

Whatever we work on, I try to make it fun for student and teacher because I’m learning too.

We’ve had snow days, sick days, holidays and field trips. And he gets plenty of playtime with other kids in the afternoon.

Through it all I think we’ve done OK for our first year of homeschool. It was more work than I thought it would be but isn’t everything?

I asked Finn if there was anything he didn’t learn this year that he might want to learn about next year.

“Potions!” he said, throwing his hands in the air. “We never learned potions!”

It’s going to be a fun second year.