We are ending our sixth year of homeschooling. For the first 1-2 years, I waffled between scheduled and notsomuch scheduled when it came to academics. If not for all our moving, I might have tried to find a schedule that worked until I gave up. Instead, I threw my hands up and said “He’s ahead–I’m not gonna worry about it”.
It started innocently enough: I was lamenting (by way of Facebook messages) to two of my friends about trying to meet the needs of BigGuy while occupying Girly with something other than the television. Jen always has great ideas and I don’t think she had a clue what she started with her brain dump into the Facebook message…
Next to packing lunches, planning is the complete bane of my existence. I loathe each with equal passion. Currently, I am detaching from reality each evening with an inflammation-inducing comfort of organic milk (we have been dairy-free for ELEVEN years) and chunky Chips Ahoy cookies (we have been gluten-free for a decade and pretty much flour free because of blood sugar issues for easily 3 years)… because I am in a quandary about how to proceed with my kids educational needs and I just don’t feel like dealing with it.
But I’m going to deal with it, obviously… Here is the quandary…
I thought of this as I drove the 26 miles that takes 45-50 minutes without traffic to the co-op we’re newly involved in this year. Traditionally, we don’t travel this far too often. We have definitely made a similar trip twice before: both times for a specific writing teacher for a half-year because she worked REALLY well with BigGuy (who only ever enjoyed writing with this woman and she really enjoyed him–worth the trip).
Don’t get me wrong, we make trips. Going into downtown Chicago for museum free days or heading out to a specific location for a special trip–these happen. Likely more often than most schooled kids; but possibly also more often than many homeschooled kids. Homeschool families vary in both their tolerance for trekking around and their availability to do so. My family is out a LOT. “Homeschooling” is a misnomer because we’re not home as much as people think we are. Continue reading We spend a lot of time in the car→
Yeah… I think this is going to work out–not being part of the Young Philosopher’s group that was meeting on Fridays from 11:30am-1pm. I mean, that’s lunchtime. Seriously? And it’s kind of far. And it falls on the day that BigGuy and I are supposed to hold our big Socratic white-elephant-in-my-head discussions… which might be too much heavy conversation for a day.
But Fridays are really, really open now and I think that’s going to work well for us. For one, it’s the day we prepare for the weekend. We do our “weekly home blessing” (thank you, stronghold of The Fly Lady) which is a set of two chores per family member that help get the house cleaned up before the weekend. This started long ago when we hosted “Wine Night” at our house every Friday night for nearly a year before relocating. Taking care of cleaning up the house before the weekend set in meant that we enjoyed a clean house all weekend and company dropping by wasn’t an issue. We could just relax.
Well, we are returning to that. And I think having the review of the week’s work and the Socratic discussions on Friday are going to dovetail nicely into preparing for the weekend. Because we can also have these discussions WHILE we work on stuff.
So each day the kids have all kinds of responsibilities…
Make their bed
Put their laundry in the hall basket and one of them takes the basket down to the laundry room (or one of the adults do)
Pick up toys in their room (which usually happens twice/day–once before going down to breakfast and once before bed… but we’ve removed a lot of toys from their rooms)
Pick up whatever toys they were playing with all day before getting their screen time or going out to any cool play dates
Set the table and get drinks. Honestly, I have no idea who does what part of this now except that at a prior family meeting, Girly wanted to put out the plates. That meant someone had to get them for her. Apparently, not anymore. She’s pushed her kid chair to the cabinet, stood up on it, got down four large dinner plates, and put four forks on them and then carries it all to the table. Whaaaaa…..???
Clear the table after every meal
BigGuy has to clean his bathroom and the master bathroom–and doing that is broken down so that he does a different part each day. He often forgets this chore or forgets to include my bathroom… but this is a new one.
At the end of the week, it goes like this (or rather, IT. IS. PLANNED. to go like this):
BigGuy vacuums the entire first floor and upstairs hallway. With his complete failure to master vacuuming, we are now sweeping.
Girly is supposed to dust and put away whatever toys are left out.
Papa is supposed to empty EVERY. GARBAGE CAN. IN THE HOUSE. including the laundry room and powder room; and mop the first floor
Mama is supposed to clear ALL of the horizontal surfaces–desk, kitchen island, counters; and sort/purge all papers–bringing the keepers to the office.
Honestly, the kids are the only ones being held to this right now and BigGuy bears the brunt of it. So add this to the list of “things mom should really get better at”. To be fair, Girly is WAY more helpful in general than BigGuy so I kind of don’t feel all that horrible about it. At 5, she tap dances rings around him in the helpful category. I love my son and he has his amazing qualities. I’m just saying that being helpful isn’t one of them.
And then there’s the general keeping things in their place crap. Shoes go in the closet, not out and about. Pencils have a place. Library books have a place. Board games have a place. My core sense of self is only at rest when “everything has a place and everything in it’s place”. With this house presumably the final place (until retirement), sh*t’s gotta get put in it’s place and that needs to become a habit.
Friday is also farm share day. So if we can get the rest of the house clean, by the time we get our farm food later in the day, we really don’t have anything standing in our way to deal with the vegetables. We get two shares from a farm in town; but then another farm uses our house as a drop-off point (it’s complicated–they started using us mid-season when we were already midway through a full season share with the other farm. Although to be fair, last year we did 4 shares total–two from each of these farms; and we’re likely to go back to that next year since we will not yet have our own gardens to the point of supporting us. Wait-wait-wait… I digress..
I’m looking forward to Fridays. Especially if they’re sunny. And clean.
Here I sit… on my back deck… laptop, sunshine (although I’m in the shade of my crabapple), cool breeze, coffee, Girly hollering for me to watch her climb up the slide and get onto the trapeze bar THAT way…
And wondering wth I’m going to do with BigGuy this week.
Upside: I got a free digital planner (thanks to Educents) and inside, there were pages to set goals. It was completely awesome and totally helpful. Because really, it’s hard to lay out a plan when you don’t know what the goal is.
Seriously? DUH! I TAUGHT THIS! FOR YEARS! Geesh, I STILL teach it by way of teleclass!
So I laid out semester goals for things above and beyond academics, but then I also laid out academic goals by subject. *deep breath of relief*
Now I need to get better at PREPARING. Honestly, I’m REALLY loving the way that this program is forcing us into this Socratic discussion and BigGuy is really understanding that he needs to exercise his brain better. Win-win. But I feel really ill-prepared and I haven’t looked in my teaching binder for this stuff but I’m sure I saw some kind of prep for this in there.
This week, I’m kind of returning to worldview and various faiths rather than our regular social studies/geography/writing/literature core from Tapestry of Grace . Papa is off of work for the next two weeks and we have a trip to Minnesota over the long weekend. So we’re going to take it slow and light. I’m going to try to tackle “What Counts as History?” from Tolerance.org’s Classroom Resources page (which, btw, is AWESOOOOME). Of course, that’s going to require some prep, too. 😉
Remember back on Wednesday when I told you guys that BigGuy and I had plotted out his work for the week? Well we just had our end of week meeting to go over his week’s work and clearly this was a bad idea as implemented.
First, BigGuy cannot manage his time. Ummmm… duh. Seriously–he’s 10. Wth was I thinking?
Second, BigGuy needs some learning about actual study skills. Again… duh. And above and beyond being 10, he’s not been challenged to learn like he’s being challenged now… so double duh.
Okay, okay… not horrible. We’re just trying to figure it out. But we will clearly do it differently next week.
Oh wait… next week start’s Papa’s 2-week vacation with a trip to Minnesota for Labor Day weekend in the midst of it. Ugh… Okay… I need to figure this out. We have some faith and tolerance lessons to work on anyway so maybe we’ll redo that which wasn’t done this week on the reading front, learn some study skills and do the remainder of the faith and tolerance lessons over the next two weeks. And maybe I’ll sandwich in a book on audio for the trip to and from Minnesota.
AND… he is not auditioning for the current show. He would’ve missed 3 rehearsals and they said that missing 2 or more means they’re likely to get cut (you have to note any rehearsal conflicts on your audition papers). We’d either have to miss our Minnesota trip and miss just one rehearsal or take the Minnesota trip and miss 3 of them. I let BigGuy decide. He chose to go to Minnesota. I’m really kind of relieved. I’m not sure we could handle the chaos of being involved in a show right now. The parent commitment is really no joke.
Tomorrow: we have some company coming for an early dinner; and then we’ll do our family meeting. After our family meeting, I hope to sit down with BigGuy and plot out his week.
Monday: There is NOTHING on the schedule. This bodes well for accomplishing some actual schoolwork as planned; and walking the kids through their chores. Speaking of which–I need to make chores for Girly. That evening is BigGuy’s first drama class and the school is holding an audition clinic afterward. Not sure if he’ll go.
Tuesday: BigGuy actually has a paid session with his choir instructor from last year’s homeschool co-op. She coincidentally has taught at the school where he will do drama classes; and therefore knows the audition process with them pretty well. I’m just really kind of hoping to get some stuff done before he goes to that after lunch. Like BigGuy’s biology lectures. There’s a park date on the calendar for the morning, but we’ll see.
Wednesday: I have an appointment midday near my home (during Papa’s lunch break), and dinner with a girlfriend; but otherwise–the day is open. Again: bodes well for trying to get into a new routine. BigGuy has his biology lecture.
Thursday: We always have a sitter for Thursday afternoon; and this week–he will stay until 9pm instead of 5pm so Papa and I can go out to dinner for our 15th wedding anniversary. BUT… I’m hoping the morning gets some dedicated routine time and at this point, I’m kind of hoping that we’re finding our stride. BIG DREAMS, PEOPLE!! GO BIG OR GO HOME!
Friday: At this point I’m hoping that I can sit down with BigGuy for our post-mortem and determine how the week went, do his accountability questions and thinking questions for the Tapestry of Grace portion of his work; check his other work and give him whatever corrective instruction he needs; then enjoy an afternoon hike facilitated by a local forest preserve. It will be tricky getting home to take a client phone call.
Here is what my calendar (altered to protect the innocent) looks like. We don’t usually go to the chiropractor Monday AND Tuesday but I killed my back last week and it’s still slightly noticeable–so I scheduled an appointment for Monday and Tuesday is the standing appointment:
But then John Lennon said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans…”
I’ve finally sat down and figured out how to handle this stuff with BigGuy. Tonight, I got his notebook set up and printed out the assignment pages that go with Tapestry of Grace (TOG). Each week, we’ll sit down and go through what he actually needs to do and read from the curricula. I also created a list of tasks outside of the curricula that he needs to do each week… math, science, foreign language, etc. I did the first 5 “weeks” of the curricula and then 2 weeks of the “outside” work. I printed out all of the resource pages he needs for the writing component of TOG. We’ll see how that goes.
I also printed out the pages for ME to help with facilitating Socratic discussion; and managing the Accountability and Thinking Questions from TOG.
And the maps… I printed out the maps he needs for the first 5 weeks of TOG plus the teacher copies with the answers.
Actually, I have to be honest that I really like the idea of sitting down with BigGuy twice each week to talk about his learning in a more mature manner. Once to sit down and go through what he needs to do and plot it out on his planner with him; and another to talk about what he’s learned and have a solid discussion about what he’s learned. Not just asking him to spew it back to me, but DISCUSSING it.
I’m kind of looking forward to it.
Now… to figure out Girly. And to hope that this works for BigGuy (and me).
I feel like a truck hit me this morning. My back is still hurting so badly that I’m going to my first ever acupuncture appointment later this afternoon (the only time I could get an appointment AND child-coverage). Papa had calls starting at 8am but had made deviled eggs for us for breakfast. I proced to sleep on and off until 9am. We did our morning snuggles and the kids went down to eat deviled eggs.
I wish I could tell you WHAT the heck happened after that, but I have no idea. All I know is that it was quiet. So I laid in bed, realizing that I had not dug out (or purchased) the stuff I needed for BigGuy’s notebook; I did not go through the mountain of books that just arrived in the mail (okay, “mountain” is obvious exaggeration–but probably about a dozen); and I didn’t write anything in the boy’s planner.
And they were really quiet for a REALLY long time.
So I got up, got dressed, washed up… and they were still quiet.
They were so quiet that I went downstairs to investigate. Or to look for my earbuds so that I could potentially meditate. Whatever. No kids. Whaaaaa….? WHERE ARE THE KIDS? And then I caught the light under the (closed) basement door. HA! They were playing in the basement. TOGETHER.
So I ran upstairs and started my meditation (Chopra just kicked off a new free 21-day challenge and they’re made for newbies… I highly recommend it). And then I got to printing off stuff I need to teach my kids.
But dude… it’s Tuesday. Maybe we’ll just mulligan this and start again on Monday? Eh… maybe not. I’m sure I’ll have my crap together by the week of Labor Day. And since I grew up in the Northeast–that’s about when we would be starting school anyway. So this is all just “practice”. We’re easing in.