Thursday, March 17, 2016

Principles for Planning Next Year's Home School

I can’t do it all. Facebook, while I love it, also stresses me out when it continues to feed up new homeschool ideas, new groups, more, different. I question my choices. Am I doing enough? Are my kids enjoying it? Are they being challenged, while enjoying it? And then the curriculum we follow offers so many choices that I have to pick and choose from the list. I start to wonder if the kids are missing out if we ditch a book or even a whole subject. 

I LOVE homeschooling. I would totally choose to teach my children at home if I had to decide over again. It’s just that choices stress me out. The analytical part of me feels like I have to know absolutely everything before I can pick and choose. And I just can’t know everything about every subject at every grade level for every child. It is helpful that I’ve been through it before when I get down to the youngers. And we have major flexibility in that we can ditch and pick up whatever we need to in the middle of a school year totally tailoring it toward each child’s personality and abilities. 

So as I plan this upcoming year, which will include a high schooler, there are some principles I want to tell myself about. Again. 

Cut back until there is peace.

I read an article about this last year and it was such a helpful reminder for my “more is more” tendency. I am a Charlotte Mason homeschooler and her ‘wide feast' idea can get out of hand if packed full every year. It helps me to take into account the 12 years of the child’s school and make sure the wide feast is spread out over that time period. Not every subject needs covered every year, nor do they need covered to deepest depths. Our family likes artist study, and we have been trying to hit more museums lately; but we would rather spend more time diving into government and politics. We touch on art. We go deeper with government. 

Learning should be enjoyable and fulfilling, but it will also be hard work.

I want my kids to enjoy school, I really do. I see that idea promoted a lot, especially in homeschooling but also in the public and private education sector. But here’s the thing ~ school can be hard. Who enjoys the nitty gritty of grammar and mathematics? I realize a few people do, but they would be exceptional in my experience. I think it’s a hard expectation to think that All of school will be cookies and milk. Sometimes there’s spinach. Sometimes there's hearty eggs and bacon. But life is like that, so it’s good for our kids to get some of that lesson during school. I think if school is absolutely hated, there’s a problem. But if there’s no challenge, no push-back (Mo-om, do I really have to do that?), that could be a problem too. I want to be an encouragement to my kids as they push through that Multivide and keep getting a wrong answer. But I do not allow them to quit Multivides just because they are really hard and frustrating. Life lessons, ya’ll.

Do not squelch natural desire and excitement.

Which leads me to this. Kids often show great interest in schoolish things, it just might not be part of the schedule for the day. I need to learn to go with it. Not beat it death (oooh, I love that video you showed me about 10 Amazing Animal Facts; why don’t you write a five page paper on that?). But encourage it. Listen as they tell me all about it. And perhaps incorporate it into school: Elizabeth will be doing a Bakery and Pastry Arts course for high school, and she’ll be doing a lot of what she already does, just with grades and more writing components. I think this course will enjoyable and fulfilling for her, but also some hard work.

Share some of the load with others.

I like getting the kids together for as many subjects as possible. We can do this with several fine arts areas like music and art study. Phoebe and Jonathan often do Spanish together. All of the older kids will be reading Shakespeare or Plutarch together. A group in the area that shares some of these subjects through a co-op or get-together could be great too, if what you get out of the group is worth the time it takes away from your weekly teaching. 

We’re looking into online classes, co-op classes, dual credit classes for high school. This is helpful for a family of multiple ages. Someone else teaching my ninth grader an honors level science course takes a lot off of my plate as I’m teaching my 5 year old how to read. 

School stimulates, breaks tend to boredom.

It’s a funny thing, but my kids are not bored during school weeks. They get done with school work and have 10 ideas they want to start on. School stimulates their imaginations; that, and perhaps the fact that they finally feel free to do their own thing. :-)  I’ve noticed when we have Christmas or summer break, some of our kids act more bored. Now we don’t cater to boredom ~ I’ll gladly hand out chores if I keep seeing a lazy, complainy attitude. But I've been thinking it would be good to plan field trips and Museum visits during breaks. Maybe not during the local school district’s break ~ too many crowds. But whenever break is convenient for us. This will keep the school weeks focused and relaxed. 

So I need to incorporate these principles into my core again and then look over the course schedule I’m planning so that we can have an enjoyable, yet challenging 2016/17 school year for all four kids (and mom and dad!).

Spring Break

I'm having trouble with picture acquisition from Photos again, so I haven't blogged in a while. 

This week is Spring Break, and we're actually taking a break at the same time that the public schools are taking a break. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Places are crowded. Sometimes there's a special (like at the skating rink - $3 this Tuesday), but sometimes they cancel their normal specials (like at Laser Legend $5 Sunday Sunday becomes regular $8 because of spring break). And you would think the neighborhood would be hopping, but all the families are gone on vacation, so my kids are schlumping around the house trying to find things to do. Usually there's always someone knocking on the door. Anyway..... we're figuring out Spring Break. 

This was from several weeks ago when we went to the Witte Museum. I didn't realize the museums in town have free evenings at least monthly if not weekly. This museum had four floors of interactive Body Adventure displays. One of the most enjoyed displays had the kids sit on opposite ends of a table with wired head bands on their foreheads. The one with the most relaxed mind would move a ball toward the opposite person. Jonathan won that game most often. 

From the Star Wars brunch.

This was Monday of Spring Break. Elizabeth made a boat (her fourth) out of milk jugs this time. It floated very well, higher up out of the water. She does want to add another row of milk jugs to make it more stable and add sitting room. We went to Boerne City Lake to try this out and it was a huge hit. You can swim, rent paddle boards and such, there were lots of shade trees. It did cost $10 for parking and it's 45 minutes away, but I think it would be worth it if you planned to spend some time there. Have a picnic lunch or something. 

Tuesday we went skating with some neighbors (pictures were all blurry). Wednesday we had dentist appointments (no cavities this time! Hurray!). Today we went with another neighbor to get $1 pancakes from I HOP for St. Patricks Day (we all had to wear green, which meant pajamas for Harrison since his clothing is oddly remiss of the color green). The kids will need to come up with their own entertainment the rest of the week. Boredom can lead to projects. Let's see what they come up with.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Mother/Son Brunch

They had a Star Wars themed brunch at church. We had to take some pictures to put in a slide show, so we took a few selfies.

These below are from the professionals at the brunch. They're a small size though, so they pixelate if you enlarge them. Hope you have good eyesight. :-) 

It was a very sweet time with my sons.