Monday, August 21, 2017

full days...


Last week was our last free week of summer. I know the official start of fall is not until mid-September, but the start of school almost always signals fall in my mind.

However, today is in the mid-80's. We just finished up an awesome first day of school after a deliciously full summer of fun and experiences. We were so blessed to be able to view the eclipse (80-90% coverage here in Western Pennsylvania) this afternoon, and we are all looking forward to our upcoming annual trip to Maine.

And as we ease back into the routine of studying and learning, I'm also going to keep a bit of a hold on these summer days. They slip by so quickly, yet there is so much about them that fills me up. The days are still long (though I've noticed the shifting sun setting earlier every day now), but I can feel myself shifting into a different mode now. I recognize it because it happens every year.

The last two weeks of freedom were full. Hanging out with friends. Walking the dirt paths through the fairgrounds. Seeing Crowder perform from literally fifteen feet away. Spending time bringing in the harvest from the backyard gardens. Learning new skills. Spending an evening canning and preserving as a family. Spending precious, precious one-on-one time with the kids. Early morning walks with a friend.

It's been full and wonderful and life-giving.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

back into rhythm...

I am so ready to start our new homeschool year. Well, except I'm not physically ready to start because I'm still doing the planning part. I had the bulk of this coming year's books ordered by the end of last May. I was patting myself on the back. I had great intentions of starting our Latin study the first part of July and getting multiple days under our belt and on the clock before our official term started in September.

Then I had a kid sick with Lyme's for weeks as well as an intestinal virus for another week. Then the other kid got that virus as well as another one. We spent many days in the car running from here to there (and how is it that I cannot exactly remember where I was even driving to on those days????) And I'm not complaining about this, although I am feeling a bit depleted and out-of-sorts. It was a full, busy, fun summer. We got to spend a lot of time with friends. The kids had opportunities to volunteer. It was amazing being out and not cooped in the house. It was a pretty amazing summer, despite the few bumps. 

But Latin? Didn't happen. All the read-alouds we were going to do? Didn't happen. (Although I read a TON of books myself.) Field trips? Nah. (Unless doctor offices, hospital ER's, and grocery stores count.) 

So August 1st rolls around, and I'm feeling the heat. The "I haven't even clocked any school days yet!" voice was screaming in my frustrated little head. 

Okay, okay. So the kids did volunteer. Ian put in thirty-seven hours so far. And they did have their music lessons, not to mention the hours they put into practicing and playing at home. And, of course, there were many other learning opportunities that occurred that I didn't document. In other words, I reminded myself to chill out.

This morning during the drive to church, I announced to Brad and the kids that this week was going to be my dedicated homeschool planning week. It's gotta be. We're starting next Monday. Time to get serious about this thing.

After church, the boys went to ultimate frisbee and Lily went to play with her cousin, so I sat down at the kitchen counter with my planner, my papers, and the laptop and got started. I'm definitely not a rigid planner. I am definitely not one of those homeschooling moms that plans out the year or even a month at a time. I find that kind of planning too restricting and stressful, and then I completely feel overwhelmed when I get off of schedule a day or two. I cannot handle that type of scheduling.

Instead, I like to sit down and get a general overview of the year. I like to figure out how many days we will need to finish each curriculum. I like to pick out our read-aloud books (some based on what we are studying in history, music, and art and others just for fun) as well as books for the kids to read on their own. 

I like to get a very casual planner put together with pages to keep track of attendance, document the reading log and field trips, write down goals and aspirations. Just a laid back guide book that works well for me. 

So after spending an incredible two months full of laid-back, come-as-we-want, take-it-easy days, I'm ready to bring some order back into my days. And to speak the truth, so are the kids. 

We'll still be taking advantage of the warm days of summer, and the garden, and outdoor time. We have a Maine trip coming up next month, and I have a few painting projects here at home that need to be done. But, wow, am I looking forward to waking up in the morning knowing that our day will have more of a regular rhythm. I always appreciate the long summer break, but I also really appreciate the start of a new school year and the routine it brings.