Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rhythm of Days

We are in the middle of our second week of our new school year.  Overall it has gone quite well.  The theme is fresh and new and keeps us moving.

In the past I have always planned an overall outline for each subject so I know what to teach next and where we are headed.  Math is the easiest, because generally, it is simply the next lesson.  Although I do have to take care to speed up and skip lessons not necessary to the particular child's learning needs or slow down and do more work for a certain skill.  But that can't be really planned ahead of time.  History, though, is one that is relatively easy to do an overall plan.  I teach it on a four year cycle and use lists and curriculum to help me set up what topics I plan to cover in the year.  Other subjects, like grammar or writing, Latin or geography, need to only be divided into how many days each week I want the kids to study that subject and then figure out how much of the book should be done each time in order to finish in the year.

But I really want this year to go well. Therefore, I did a lot more planning than I have done in a long time.  I planned what I wanted to do in each subject each week.  No, not for the whole year.  I'm enough of a veteran to know that never works and only disappoints and discourages.  Instead I simply planned for about four weeks.  I decided that was enough time to give me a good gauge of how things were going.  Was that too much?  Not enough?  Did we get it all done?  Did we feel overwhelmed?  It also meant that I would not have to plan weekly, which would get tiring real fast. And if the plans were useful, then it would give motivation to plan when completed with the first weeks!

But, I did not even stop there!  My "wonder-homeschool-mom" hat was apparently still on and I obliged my son who begged for an actual schedule.  He likes to know what time he should be doing a certain subject.  I have hesitated to use a schedule in the past few years because they never seemed to work.  I think that is because I had to try to juggle five kids' education. This year, though, I only have three to primarily educate so we are going to try once again.

I found this schedule on-line (detailed directions on how this homeschool mom creates the schedule are found here), and since it is laid out in the way my brain thinks, I made one just like it for my family.  Well, David set it up, two actually.  One for Nathan, Abby, and Sam, and a second one for Hannah and Ellie.  Then I worked on fitting the pieces of our day into time slots, printed them, and hung them on the door.  We will have to make a few adjustments but, for a first attempt, it has worked well.

Summer weather has arrived the last two weeks.  Sunny, hot and humid.  There are two good things about that arriving as we begin our year.  One, we like to be inside where it is cool.  Two, the kids like going to the pool.  What great motivation to get their work done in order to enjoy swimming in the late afternoon and early evening! I don't mind soaking up the sun's rays while enjoying a book.

Last week I had Hannah and Ellie here to help me.  I was constantly having them do this load of laundry or fix lunch, or wash the dishes or even some windows all while I was teaching their younger siblings.  But not this week.  This week they began their college classes.  They leave each morning, lunch in hand, and return home in the afternoon, sometimes only enough time to change clothes and head to their job.  What a change it is to have them both gone during the day.  It is fun to hear all about their day and their classes when they get home.

Keeping up with this new schedule and working hard to have a successful year is exhausting.  We all are quite ready to lay our heads upon our pillows in the evening.  I think it will get better as the year goes along and the rhythm of days becomes natural.

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