Slow and steady seems the way to start our travels once again this year.
In the past week or so, I’ve seen a few emails go by at online home schooling groups about parents in a tizzy about their families’ first day back to “school”, and some of them are experienced home educators. Once again, I think I’m missing some of the important home school genes — I lost the I-have-to-go-to-the-HS-conference gene a few years ago, and I am definitely missing the planning/scheduling one; of course, I’ve learned from our experiences that my best laid plans get shoved aside by last minute adventures, and that we do tend to work best just by doing the next thing. Prompted by phone calls from guitar and voice teachers, I had thought we’d start up our formal studies, as usual, right after Labor Day — though it seems to be arriving awfully early this year — but beyond that hadn’t given much thought to just what we’d do that first week.
As I’ve written before, the first day the kids get to start the morning by exploring their goodie bags, with fun school supplies, some new books and audiobooks, and such. And then…
Well, I could have planned a full day for everyone, starting with seatwork around the kitchen table — math, spelling, grammar, and such — followed by readalouds in the afternoon. Then I realized, while sitting in the middle of the garden yanking out carrots, that for me planning is much like packing for a trip, or the way I’m supposed to pack for a trip, and this is most certainly a voyage of learning. Rather than trying to pack every last thing in that suitcase — I have a tendency to pack for every last eventuality, and I suppose to carry on the metaphor that would mean scheduling to avoid educational gaps — I have to remember what the experts say: pack your bag, then remove half.
So I’ve decided that we’ll start as we have for the past few years, removing the first half of the day, the seatwork, and once the kids are done admiring their new things, we’ll start off with readalouds. In fact, I think we’ll spend our entire first week reading aloud — history, literature, science, and probably even some math. I’ll add math in the next week, and English the week after. That gives everyone including me a chance to get used to the new schedules; it doesn’t help that next week brings the first music lessons since May, and my first library board meeting since June.
Now if only I can follow my own advice the next time I’m faced with a suitcase.
(PS For others who like to Travel Light — highly recommended.)