Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moving Forward OR First Semester Recap - Part 2

In my last post I talked to you a little about how burned out we had gotten in this past semester.  (And do read the comments, there are some great suggestions!)  I also mentioned that I did indeed have a plan for this new semester.

When I looked at the reasons why I was burned out, why I felt things were being neglected, and why I had so much guilt I noticed three things: 1) my original plan was really a pretty good one, 2) I need to learn to be flexible and understand what are "extras" so I can cut back on those when I need too, and 3) I need to take more breaks.

Quickly addressing the first.  I put a lot of thought and time into making our plans for this school year.  The resources I brought into our homeschool have the potential to enrich our learning. Plus, I like what I'm teaching, and Fritter likes what we're learning.  That's important!  The lesson learned here for me is that there will always be seemingly better programs out there, but I do us a disservice when I am constantly allowing myself to be bounced around from program to program.  I actually end up making more gaps in my children's education then if I just left things alone.

Secondly, in these early years what really matters is that we have a strong core.  Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  Anything outside of that is really just extra.  A good extra, to be sure, but still just extra.  If my children are good readers, anything they want to learn is literally at their fingertips.  Over our Christmas break I saw this played out repeatedly.  Because we have so many little ones, we have an enforced quiet time in our home between the hours of 1 and 3 pm.  This means that the three youngest lay down to take naps (and lately Ladybug spends most of that time either reading or standing on her head in bed, a few times a week she will actually nap) and Fritter has a rest time where he is free to read anything he wants and after around 2 or so he can do something quiet.

Lately during rest time, Fritter will pull out our atlases (we have an addiction to maps around here) and scour through them, or any of his science readers, or whatever else strikes his fancy.  Then when his reading time is over he will usually get out his bin of markers and construction paper and make "books".  He brought a map of Arizona to me that he had drawn (not traced!) that I thought was incredible!  And we haven't even begun to study geography this year!

The lesson here is that when things are smooth sailing and we feel we can do more, then those extras can be freely added in.  But when we are struggling, then it's time to pull back a little and just focus on doing what the curriculum calls for.  And I can trust that we are getting enough without worrying about whether or not we are finishing our books by a certain time.

Lastly, I need to take more breaks.  And so I have officially decided that we are switching to a year round school effective immediately.  The summers here are so hot and awful anyway that those three months become wasted time.  Except for early mornings we can't really play much outside and so we end up watching three months of tv.  Personally I would rather have those three months scattered around the year than in one big lump.  So in practice what that means for us currently is that we will get a one week break at the end of February, I'm taking three weeks off for Holy Week and Easter, we will take all of June off and start in with our new school year in July.  After that every six weeks (give or take a week) we will take a week break, and finish with our first semester right before Thanksgiving.  And then we get to take all of December off so we can just enjoy our Advent and Christmas and do all the things we want to do during that time.

These decisions have helped me get excited for school again.  Speaking of which, it's time for school and the three year old is screaming!  :)


Michelle said...

Sounds like a plan! Thanks for the advice on pulse!

Jennie C. said...

You know, we've never, ever finished up for a summer break?! I always mean to, but it never happens. We usually have a lighter summer load, but summer school still happens. Actually, I think that's been better for us, as nobody forgets their math or latin lessons over the long vacation. (Only our big, self-motivated kids do latin, by the way!)

Cmerie said...

Yes, I agree, that's the other bonus. We can just keep going forward instead of taking extra time out to review.