Wednesday, December 10, 2014

One Smallish- But Big- Change This School Year

What a school year it has been already.  I honestly don't even know how many days we've got on the books. What is happening to me????  I love marking my days, checking my boxes, and keeping that running tally, for several reasons. First, so we stay on track. I mean, we have got to stay on track! We can't be falling behind our average 20 days per month of school so we can definitely finish by the end of May!  Secondly, I feel like we're accomplishing something.  That number tells me that my days truly count.  Thirdly, I'm just super-organized that way.

But here we are in December and I really don't know how far into our year we are based on the number of required days. I have been keeping track, I am keeping good notes in my Well Planned Day, but it's not my priority this year to count days.

This year is going so much better than last year.  Remember last year? The Year I Wanted to Quit. Like really quit.  I couldn't bear to think of homeschooling anymore.  Though I still had a passion for it, it was just one hard year that I didn't want to repeat itself.

Thankfully it is not.

And here's why. Or at least, what I think is why.

I. Have. Relaxed.

Deep breath.  Cause part of me actually thinks that is a lie. Because I am so not a relaxed person.  My husband, he is relaxed. He is laid back big time.  Me? Not. So. Much.

But really.  Based on the typical me, I have relaxed.

We get up in the morning and I am training all three of my kiddos to have their morning stuff done by 8:30. We are early risers and I have found that starting at 8:30 is doable and better for us than last year's 9:30.  That extra hour seemed to make my kids think the whole day was theirs and that when I rang the school bell, so to speak,  I was interrupting their lives.  So 8:30 is our new time to start our school day.

But it doesn't always start with school work.

Today we worked on chores all morning.  A big storm was blowing in, with the possibility of a power outage, so we had Emergency Preparedness 101.  We found all the flashlights. Filled buckets and tubs with water.  Filled the woodbox for the stove.  We worked on laundry so we'd have plenty of clean clothes.  We cleaned the bathrooms.  Showered.  Swept.  I vacuumed like crazy.

And I didn't feel one bit guilty that we weren't hitting the school books.  We were being productive and getting other important things done.  After lunch, we had school. It wasn't a day with all the books open, but as a whole, it counted.

This is what I mean by relaxed. I'm not trying to cram school in. I'm not forcing things to go on a particular schedule each day.  I'm not expecting to be finished by a certain time.  Most days we start out with math and typical schoolish things, but sometimes we work on other important things.  Like life skills.  I don't feel bad or rushed if we have to finish some school work after lunch. Or after dinner.  I'm not so stressed if all my boxes don't get checked in my planner.  I'm keeping notes on more than just progress in reading and math and handwriting. I'm noting good discussions we have.  Subtle changes in attitude that are for the better.  Things we do together that weren't planned or scheduled and never could have been.

I'm not worried about if we finish the entire schedule for the year.  I chucked a book I thought  I would love but that we all hated.  I went back to my favorite history resource, The Story of the World, even though it's not in the teacher's guide.  I planned on December being a "nontraditional" month because of all the excitement for  Christmas and all the holiday activities we would like to do.  I've been teaching the oldest two the same math and grammar on the white board this month instead of their individual programs.  And I think they are still learning just fine.

I don't plan my whole week out in every single subject. Most days I start with math and fill in the blanks for English.  We don't do writing every day. Or grammar. Or spelling.  We do each of them sometimes according to what fits.

I realized that all my high ideals are unrealistic.  So I've given myself a break and have my son using a computer based math program and Brown-Eyed Girl is using Rosetta Stone reading for extra help.  Because I can't do it all.  And trying to just stressed me out.

I'm not worried about Petite's handwriting right now.  She is a giant sponge of excitement and learning and begs for her school, but she writes everything backwards (but with so much pride!).  And I have decided not to worry about it.  And not to push it.  And just wait a bit.  Because eventually she'll be ready to write correctly.

I don't care what the experts say.  I don't care if I should take her pencil away so she doesn't learn bad habits. I don't care if I should work on it more often.  She loves to learn and she loves to do work right now so I am not messing with it.

See? I am relaxed.

Not every moment of every day.  I've had times of panic.  Times of fear.  But then I go back to what I decided about this year:

My children's education will not be just academics.  It will be relationships. It will be the school of work.

It will be okay.

And there it is.  The one small- but huge!- change I've made this school year.  It's actually a series of small changes, but it's made a big difference.

If you homeschool, I hope you're having a great year.  And if you're not, if it feels like The Year You Want to Quit... hang tight.  Pray.  Things can get better.