April 21, 2010

Remember it is School

This is the season where sports resumes in our lives and I start to be careful about all the time we are spending out of the house during the school day because I know we will not be spending our evenings at home.  We will be at a baseball diamond or a swim pool most likely 6 days a week.

I start to feel like we should just be in the house more but I need to remind myself that piano, art class, coop classes, field trips, library runs, nature walks and the other out of the home activities we do really are part of our school time, even though they are not time in our house with books.

For some reason this year has been a year of staying home more, maybe because they are getting older? I was always a big advocate of field trips and this year we have gone on so few compared to other years.  I think we have cycled through so many that in a way we needed a break and I have stopped organizing field trips for our homeschool support group which decreased the number I felt obligated to attend or create.  I have also added outside music and art lessons which takes up two afternoons of our week.  We have a weekly kids groups that meets here another afternoon each week and then cooperative in the morning every other week.  So maybe it is not being home more it is just doing different things outside the home.  I am trying to figure how to balance it all.

I think a change in my thinking is needed because those are not "extra" things we do.  They are part of our kids educational experience and I need to remember to look at it that way so I don't feel a sense of lost time.  For the first year we will school all the way through May, the kids do not know this yet but we need to in order to finish our lessons for the year.  There may be a child or two who finishes a subject or two early but in general we will continue all the way through May.  I think this is in part because we have three full time students for the first year and Maria is older with more complex subjects that are taking longer to finish.  We have more subjects, more people and more difficult topic, so it takes longer.

I look at this last 6 weeks or so of school for the year and I think about all we have accomplished and what is left to do and how on track we are.  I keep wanting to reinvent things and change everything up, I need to remember to just stay the course at this point and finish out our semester.  This has been a major year of transition for us already: adapting to various learning styles, changing certain curriculum choices, decreased group lesson time, more outside lessons, becoming more individualized, adding homework and testing practice, and increasing the amount of time dedicated to school.

Some of the things that I discovered we all really did miss and need to fit in more next year are: fiction read alouds, nature walks/sketching, field trips, and service projects.  I did not realize how much we would miss consistent service and how much a part of our family that had become.  I am actually thinking next years schedule will need to include a regular day of service each month, or even more often that that if we can manage it.

Overall I have mixed feelings about this year of school.  I think it has been a big learning year for me.  Realizing how different the kids are and trying to adapt to those needs better and be willing to be more flexible.  We spent a lot of time in fluid changes but overall I think in the long run this will serve us better.

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