Next year isn't going to be better.
That's usually the motivation behind all my New Year's homeschool planning (and purchasing!). It's this idea that the current year has reached it's peak of enjoyment. We are tired of what we are doing, and next year will be way better because we'll be studying something new, or using a new curriculum.
"Next year will be better!" so many of us are thinking as we slog through the final months of school.
But in my discontent, my boredom, or more likely my weariness, it is so easy to forget : each morning I have a new day with my kids. I don't have to muddle through til next school year to have a great school year NOW.
This 2015-16 school year, I returned to my roots, so to speak. Our first five years of home schooling were spent doing unit studies. The next three years I purchased an all-in-one curriculum with all the subjects planned out for me. This year I really wanted to study American history with the kids, in depth and for as long as we wanted to. I already had so many great books, it didn't make sense to buy another all-in-one package. I was a little nervous to take back responsibility for planning, but also really excited to do so. (I like being in control! I am an INTJ homeschool mom!)
So this school year has been one of meandering through American history, utilizing the notebooking method, and lots of wonderful read-alouds to make history come alive. It has really been a great year. Even with a baby in the house. Yes, I am pressed to get it "all" done every single day, but I am also learning to slow down. I don't have boxes to check in an Instructor's Guide. I'm spending much more time on the Revolutionary War than I expected. I'm not cramming information in just for the sake of a syllabus. We are savoring our studies more.
I'm not anxious for next year. Because this year is good. And I'm glad it's not over. There is so much more I want to do with the kids. There are sooooo many books I want to read to them. We won't get everything done that I had planned, but I am glad. Because that means we get to do it again next year (and all summer if we want!). I plan to just keep going with history and keep doing what we've done. Next year won't be better, because this year is great!
These are a few things that have helped me slow down and enjoy our days more this school year- they are at the heart of what I really love about homeschooling:
1) Lots of reading aloud. I've read so many wonderful books to the kids this year, mostly complimenting our study of American history. The benefits of reading aloud are incredible, but more than that, we all just love it. It is what brings me the greatest joy in our homeschool. I love running my finger along the shelves in our library and seeing how many of the books we have read. Lots! I love when the kids beg for another chapter. I love when they are eager to find out what our next read aloud is. And we have learned so much history through The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Johnny Tremain, Bound for Oregon, and biographies by the D'Aulaires.
Side note: If you love reading aloud, or want encouragement to read aloud more, please check out Sarah McKenzie's Read Aloud Revival blog and podcast! You will be inspired!
2) Togetherness. I am occasionally blown away that I have four children. And I am even more blown away when I see them all interacting together, playing, laughing, teasing, provoking. I love that we are all home together, every single day. I love that my three school age kids get to watch their little brother grow up. I love that he gets to watch them and learn how to do practically everything.
Now you know we have crazy days. You know there are days I want to quit. This isn't a walk in the park. But we're all here together. And it's one of the best things about our year.
|Mister is an amazing big brother, and loves to help out with B.|
4) Days out of the house. As my kiddos have gotten older, their craving for friend time has increased, and I have purposefully built more days into our schedule to get us out with friends. This is hard for me sometimes, because I am a homebody and I really hate interruptions in our schedule. But it means so much to the kids, and I love the time with my mom friends as well. Roller skating days, MOPS meetings, and co-op are appointments on our schedule to look forward to. We all need those!
|I need excuses to escape the ever-present laundry pile- because in the grand scheme of life, laundry is pretty small, even if the pile is huge!|
6) Holding to my values, my ideals. I wholeheartedly believe homeschool is the best way for my family, even on my worst day. I have faith that it is making my children, and me, into the people we are intended to be. More and more it feels like the road less traveled, but I'm also learning to stop trying to run other people's race and put my energy into running MINE.
Now I confess, I got the latest CBD homeschool catalogue in the mail the other day. And I did flip through it and circle some items in black Sharpie. But I'm not thinking too long and hard about next year. After all, there are new mercies for me each day -for marriage, mothering, and home education too. No need to wait til next year to do what we really want to do, or to scrap what isn't working and choose something that does. (Early on in our year I chucked Apologia's Human Body book for their book on flying things- and we've only done the first six chapter on birds- because we love birds! No guilt!
How bout you, homeschool moms. Have you planned or even purchased curriculum for next year yet?