I’m astounded that our summer vacation is already coming to a close. It has flown by. We didn’t quite do all that we intended, but we did a lot. And mostly, it turns out that what the kids and I really wanted was to veg a little. We’ve had a lot of changes over the last two years and a few quiet weeks at home were welcome, indeed.
Onward and upward!
Over the past month or so, I’ve been reading, reviewing, and researching our school plan for the next year. And while our How We Do School series has a few more installments, I’m going to take some time each week to talk about school planning for me as the teacher as well as for each level of students.
Homeschooling is a way of life for us. While I am a total book geek, I also see all of life as learning. So there aren’t always clear cut boundaries between learning and fun.
Many of the things we do “for fun” are also educational. Our kids often select nonfiction books at the library. They love documentaries. We choose vacations and adventures that teach. That’s just how we roll.
Our kids love to learn new things, even though they groan over the book work and a return to formal studies just like the next kid.
Assessing Our Stage in Life
This summer vacation allowed me time to reflect on our family, the different ages of our kids, mine and FishPapa’s goals for their educations, and where we hope to go this year in our studies.
In many ways, we are breaking new ground.
- A kid in every stage – I realized that I have children in almost every stage of development. My eldest son, my first teenager, is entering 8th grade, while his brothers will be in 5th, 3rd, and 1st grade. The girls at the end of the train are my preschoolers.
- No baby in our school - While FishBaby will always be “the baby of the family,” she’s not really a baby. She turns 2 this month and is teasing us with efforts to potty train herself. While she certainly is not “independent,” her new stage in life should contribute to a new look for our school. It’s been a long time since we didn’t have a baby-baby around. While I will hold onto naptime for dear life, I anticipate fewer interruptions and happier playtimes for my preschoolers.
- More flexibility – As our kids are growing, we have a little more flexibility now in working in extra-curricular activities and elective subjects. We’re including Latin, Logic, and Spanish into our course of study this year. At the end of last year, FishPapa began music instruction with each of the boys. So, I am hopeful that the subjects that haven’t received the attention I wanted them to have will get that this year.
Reviewing My Philosophies of Education
It was so helpful this summer to spend some time thinking through our course of study for the year, talking with friends, asking you all on Facebook and Twitter, visiting homeschooling websites and forums, and rereading the book that has been a casual guide for our family’s education adventure.
Once upon a time I was a high school English and French teacher. I have a Master’s Degree in Education as well as an-oh-so-helpful-in-today’s-society, BA in French Literature. Despite the fact that I had “professional training” in educational philosophy, it was only when I applied it to my own children and my hopes and dreams for them, that it became real. There’s a depth and passion for my kids’ learning that is exhilarating.
In rereading my vintage edition of The Well-Trained Mind I am reminded of the excitement I had when we first embarked on classical education and teaching our children at home. Researching curriculum and thinking through each child’s needs and abilities has been a welcome task. Like flipping through the pages of their scrapbooks, thinking about their schooling has been a joy and a reminder of the blessing it it to walk this path alongside them.
Renewing My Energy
In the last few years we’ve added babies, started a home business, moved cross-country, and experienced a number of major life changes that have pulled me in a number of directions. There’s always been something more I could do, something more to pull my attention, something more to nag at me.
This past month of a relaxed schedule has been really good. I was able to incrementally work on and eventually complete a major writing project on my to-do list. And then, even the mouse invasion produced good fruits. It was the jump start I needed to clean every nook and cranny of our home. I got the schoolroom emptied and sorted.And we’re ready to start with a clean slate come next week. I feel like huge weights have been lifted from my shoulders.
One night I lay in bed feeling like I had climbed Mount Everest. Now what do I want to do? I thought.
Dreaming Big Dreams
While I have big dreams for many areas of my life, it came home to me that school is the most important area right now. Getting our school off to a great start and not falling behind are going to be the keys to success in all the other areas of my life this year.
Some big plans I have?
- 6 weeks on, 1 week off - One of the benefits of teaching my children at home is that I can build our own calendar. We’re going to try 6 6-week sessions with a week off in between each one. I’m hoping that this will allow for timely breaks as well as a little breather for each of us in order to avoid burnout.
- A regular daily schedule – I hate schedules, but I know that our days will go better if we have one. I also know that unless I plan for each of the subjects I want to include, they won’t happen on their own.
- Stay on top of things - Getting behind is no fun. So, I want to make a concerted effort not to get behind in lessons and grading. Yes, life will happen. But, I hate digging myself out of a hole.
- Work hard, play hard - I want to make sure that when we’re supposed to be working, we are. The rest of the time we should be free to play and have fun.
I am hopeful, prayerful, and excited for the new school year. I don’t have all my ducks in a row, but I’m getting there. Back to school planning for this homeschool mom is off to a good start.