a whole new list

My children are at home with me everyday. We have various activities, lessons, experiments, books, and chores to do each of those days. Every so often I like to write down what our goals are so the days don’t blend into one another and we stay on some language arts, spelling, or math curriculum writer’s path for our family. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE curriculum and their writers, but each child is unique and specific and I often tweak and tailor make each of their education to fit them. I’m a mega-tweaker when it comes to Instructor’s Guides. Sometimes I don’t use one at all and just stick with the children’s books because they are so good in themselves. Our own conversations and activities spin off of what we read and I don’t need to add anything to our reading.

After almost a week of being sick and laid out, I am beginning to arise from what felt like death warmed up. Yesterday I washed sheets, pillow cases, bathrobes, and switched out my toothbrush. Because I got sick in the middle of the week, we were in the middle of all sorts of things that just stopped and my plan book is now my enemy. Some of the lessons, like math, Ben does on the computer so he just kept doing those. He knows the drill with spelling and his cursive practice so he kept those up too. But the 2 younger boys and all other subjects became lost in my sea of “unfinished homeschool plans”. It’s a real place, ask any homeschool Mom. For days Ben, whose 8 years old and also our oldest child, babysat his brothers and kept them occupied, made them meals, and kept them alive. He also managed to clean up after them and himself and keep the house relatively neat. I gave him that huge responsibility because I had no choice, I could not get up and my brain felt like it was going to burst out of it’s skull anytime anyone walked into the room and I felt the vibrations of their feet travel from the ground and up the couch leg, onto my pillow. I was in hell and my boy took the reigns. He did a fabulous job and we are so proud of how responsible he was.

So, back to writing down our plans… last night I finally opened up the planner to see what got done and what didn’t and to try and salvage the rest of this week. And as I looked through I realized that we are all over the place and our goals have begun to change since we started in August. The more we relax in our schooling, the more it leaks into our entire day. It seems like we are homeschooling all day, but it’s so un-schoolish that only when we are working out of our workbooks does it feel like school. Is this what we, me and hubby, want for our home and our family? It looks very different from our plan. Much of our day is taken up by character training, which wasn’t in the homeschool plan because it was a parenting job. Well, they’ve meshed.

Then, looking through a notebook, I noticed one of my boys lacking in a very necessary academic skill. I wasn’t pushing him too hard because I hoped it would develop naturally through other lessons, but it’s not. So we need to take some time away from our “plan” and focus on getting this certain skill nailed down. Next I noticed the book I had been following for a certain subject didn’t cover areas in depth or in a way that benefited my kids best. So as I’m thinking about these things last night I make a list of what needs to be done this year, subject by subject, kid by kid. Each kid had about 3 pages of goals in which he needed to reach before the end of the year. Some were academic, like remembering to begin each sentence with a capital and some were more of a character issue, such as working on looking people in the eye when spoken to.

I have to be honest, when we began the year my goals were a bit simpler, like… complete spelling workbook and get a B+ or above on all spelling tests, complete math and get a B+ or above on all math tests, complete language arts book and get… you get the picture. And I’m not knocking what I did because those are great goals. I’m only noting that there’s been a shift in my Spirit this year. I began the year not wanting to homeschool at all. And although we are Weaving through Weaver, it was all quite schoolish. I created a very list oriented environment for the kids. It was all very black and white. As we move through the year, I find myself intertwining life and school in a way that doesn’t fit my personality. Maybe my personality is changing- it has before. Something’s changed if we’ve turned into science unschoolers because I was an avid non-unschooler.

As I sat up late and alone, writing out our goals for “school” I realized that it was also a plan for parenting. I like knowing where we are going and what we are looking at right now. It’s nice to know that I don’t have to become a slave to the Instructor’s guides and because I have a master plan written specifically for my kids this year, I can take time for things like capital letters. And because I don’t care if my kid can diagram a sentence perfectly(it truly will not make a difference in life, I love to write and do it everyday and I didn’t even know what diagramming a sentence was until this year), we can do more important things, like learn how to plant a garden that will feed our family, and learn how and when to use the highlighter as he begins to study college level books about space, and how to run a household when his mother gets ill.

I plan on writing out our “school” goals as the kids grow and need to know more. I plan on using My Father’s World curriculum because they have the same schooling and parenting philosophies as we do, but we’ll go off on rabbit trails as we see fit. The writers even encourage me in the curriculum to make it my own and add to it and leave things out if they don’t work. With MFW we’ll be meshing our schooling and our parenting more and more and maybe we won’t be able to tell one from the other by the end of the year. That’s the plan for now, but as we grow together as a family, it may all change. I may be writing you a year from now explaining that we’ve moved back to Sonlight because we won the lottery and can afford it again. Just kidding, Sonlight is actually worth every penny, but MFW is just more in line with what we want.

The point is, we’ve changed. I’ve changed. I am a very different person than I was just a few months ago and it’s changed our homeschool for the better. As I re-wrote our plan for this year, I saw how my priorities are with my children learning what they need to know to graduate, but more importantly, loving the journey we are taking to get to that point. It’s a beautiful scenic drive and we are on it together.

Thanks for reading!

Love,
Jackie

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