Switching Things Up

Every year since I started homeschooling, I've veered a little farther off the beaten path.

My first year I set up our days in a way that replicated the conventional school that I grew up in.  I tried to fill 8 hours with structure.  We had a real desk.  I stood in front of Josie while I taught her.

The next year I got rid of the desks and started sitting next to her.

Last year, I struggled with myself over what I wanted our school to look like.  I felt like 1st grade was our first real year of school and the pressure was on.  I did a whole lot of unhealthy comparing and it resulted in me pushing Josie hard on things she was very much not ready for.  Half the time I wanted to be an unschooler, the other half I wanted to prepare her for Harvard.

This year, after a lot of prayer and reflecting, I've found a whole new level of freedom in homeschooling. 

I feel confident and know that if we aren't learning what everyone else is, that's ok.  If the way I'm teaching isn't working, I can try something else.  Other than for knowing what class she needs to be in at church, I've given up saying what grade we are in.

My goal is to move forward.  To learn something new each day and get a little better at it every time we talk about it.

My plans for the year are our most unconventional yet.

For one, we aren't exclusively homeschooling.

Josie is going to an enrichment school two days a week and Gabe is going to do a one day a week preschool program at the Botanical Gardens.  Both are answers to some major prayers.  

Josie started at the beginning of August and loves it.  She has made some little friends and is really enjoying all of her classes.  I am really enjoying getting a little taste of that elementary school goodness like bells ringing and packing school lunches.

first legitimate backpack purchase!

Since she is gone two days a week, we have three days to fit in our other subjects.  Andrew is off on Mondays so we don't do school that day.  We've been doing a Sunday, Wednesday, Friday schedule and see how it goes.

I'm also tossing up Summer Break.

My family comes to Arizona for the Winter in November.  This is also when the weather here goes from Scorching Hot to Pure Perfection and I want to take advantage of both.  So in the Winter months we are going to have a lighter schedule.  Lots of field trips, enrichment school, and a light load on our other school days.  Then when the temps soar in June and it's too hot to be outside and all our family has retreated to cooler climates, we will go full on to wrap up our year.

Our schooling areas will change a lot from our past years as well. 

For the time being, while we are staying at my Mom's house, I'm storing school books in a large tote and we are doing school at the dining room table. 

As much as I loved our workboxes, they took up precious space.

I came up with a solution over the Summer that is going to work perfectly for Josie's work.  My new system saves space and puts Josie more in control of her day, both are things that make happy.  More on the system later.  Gabe will likely still need workboxes, but I won't know until we are in our house.

When we move in to our own place next week our arrangement will change again.  And we will roll with it.

Look at that flexibility.  I don't even know who I am anymore!

I can say that I am feeling very much in love with the way our school looks now.  It feels like a perfect balance for all of us.  I'm paying very close attention to each child and what they need instead of being so concerned with state standards and matching what everyone else is doing.

This may be our best year yet.

Scratch that.  I know it will be!


Sweet Tea said...

It sounds great! That's the beauty of home schooling - getting to make it personal and unique for your own children and your family schedule. I always enjoy your posts.

Liz said...

That's awesome! I'm enjoying how we've got our school year structured this year. We do four days of school (M-Th) and go on our field trips, etc on Fridays. We're spending lots of time outside before it gets to cold. We're doing a lot of new classes this year too, so that's exciting. :) And I'm trying to focus on all the things they are learning when we aren't formally doing school. The more I focus on that, it's amazing how much more relaxed I feel.

Lisa Boyle said...

Sounds like it's going to be a great year! Can't wait to read how it all plays out. :-) Feel free to come over and link up with "My Week in Review." I'd love to have you join us. http://our4kiddos.blogspot.com/2014/09/my-week-in-review-4.html