Hear We Go Again!: Homeschool Prep for 2017-18

We are only a few days away from the first day of school.

I know! I can’t believe it either! I finally hit those lazy days of summer and haven’t had enough time to get bored yet. It just seems a little early.

Plus, there is so much we haven’t finished and now we’re just about out of time (like those handwriting books from LAST school year we were going to so diligently work on every day during the summer. And the daily reading with the K turned 1st grader. I kind of blew that opportunity. I didn’t go through all the bins of clothes to either hand down or pass on to someone else. My awesome goal of going through all the kitchen cupboards lasted about 2 cupboards. My backyard is still a mess (but better now that the sprinklers are in and the grass has grown back. I’ve got a patch of weeds 3 feet tall I’ve been meaning to battle that is still just waiting for me to pull up the courage. And my van looks like, well, like we’ve just been through summer with 5 kids and a less than always tidy mother.

HOWEVER! I did fold and re-stack all my towels! IMG_1607

I other words, I’m about at the same point as all the other moms who are rejoicing that they’re going to send their kids away to school all day so they can put their lives back in order.

But this is my life.

And I really am in love with it.

And I’m rejoicing that my kids get to stay home!

Because they don’t get bored during the summer or start bickering and getting on each other’s nerves.

And I just really love being with them.

So… maybe what I mean is that my house, yard, and van is a mess…

Anyway, moving on to school prep. I have a new secret weapon up my sleeve that hopefully will reduce our overall level of frustration and frequency of distractions. I call it the “free-hand-me-down-office-desk-that-barely-fits-but-we’ll-take-it-anyway!”

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Sure, this means there is barely space to fit the toddler bed in my daughter’s bedroom anymore, but we’ll figure it out. He doesn’t mind, right? Look how happy he is!

I’m just excited with the idea of my 3rd grader being able to organize her own space and work in peace and quiet. (Also, I needed a spot for our sewing stuff… not like we actually ever sew anything.) My 5th grader has a desk in his room already, but it’s always covered with Legos, various pieces of scout uniforms, and other random boy paraphernalia. Wooden swords and tools and stuff.

Also new this year: non spinning chairs! Our last chairs were also hand-me-downs from my husband’s office, and the spinning feature was cool until it wasn’t. You can probably imagine. We picked up some nice, sturdy, immobile chairs from my neighbor’s yard sale at a very reasonable price.

Besides that, we have the 11 year old kitchen table turned work table in our play room that we’ve been using for years.

Workplace? Check!

Curriculum? Well, here’s what I’ve got so far. (This is where things start getting overwhelming and I fall into panic mode.)

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THAT is a lot of stuff to cover. THAT is a ton of work. THAT has the potential to help mold and train and develop powerful minds. But if you let the books become the master of your life and dictate how you spend every minute of your day, you might as well prepare for mother burn out, because it’s just around the corner.  If there is anything I have gained from doing this for even just the few years that I have, it is that I run my school. Curriculum is there to aid me. There really is no harm in skipping lessons, using alternative schedules, taking extra time on certain subjects, and overall just doing things the way I feel work best for us, even if that goes against the highly recommended schedules in the “How to Use This Book” section of my teaching manuals.

(This is a post with more detail about the books we’re using this year, as well as course descriptions and explanations.)

Curriculum and Supplies? Check!

That leads us to our schedule. Three kids in 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade. One preschooler (schedule not up yet) and a toddler.

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So technically most of the public school kids aren’t going back to school as early as we are. But I really like the flexibility of starting at week (or two) early so we can transition a little easier. Last year was, well, disastrous. But it got better. I am learning that transition time is kind of a big deal over here. I’ve been trying (half heartedly) to get the kids in the habit of getting all their chores done before 8:30 am so we can start school promptly at 9:00 am next week. Yeah, well, there’s some room for improvement in this category. Just another reason for a “transition” week.

Our first week of school will actually only be half days. The second week of school already has two field trips scheduled in.  I’m not starting “early” in order to get my kids ahead of the public school. (They are ahead of the norm just by virtue of the fact that they homeschool seriously at their own pace.) And really I’m not starting school early for fear that they will fall behind.

I’m just hoping it works out best for us.

In any case, it’s happening. I’m pretty much ready.

Schedule? Check!

Now the hardest part is taking deep breaths and remembering, it’s all going to work out. Say it with me. “It’s all going to work out. It’s all going to work out.”

And if it doesn’t, you just evaluate, adapt, and try again.

(And sometimes lower expectations.)

Homeschooling isn’t easy. Parenting isn’t easy. Teaching and raising educated, intelligent, thoughtful, respectful, happy, healthy, and (insert your own adjectives here) children is not easy.

Some days it is even discouraging, frustrating, heart breaking, and blood pressure elevating. (That is the nice way of saying they’re gonna tick you off and make you want to scream really loud.)

But God didn’t give you children so that others could raise them. Regardless of whether you homeschool or not, God gave those children to you so that YOU could teach, nurture, train, love, and raise them. They are a precious, sacred gift. And a precious, sacred responsibility. He’s got your back. Listen to what He says. Ask Him your questions and seek for His answers. Oftentimes His answers come from “the experts,” but sometimes they come despite what “the experts” say. Don’t worry about what other people may say or think. It’s not about them. They aren’t the parents of your child. Happiness and success doesn’t come from going with the crowd and just trying to fit in and not make waves. (Although that is a useful skill sometimes.)

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You’ve got this! You can do it! This year is going to be great. There will be adventures and excitement you could never have imagined. Those little lightbulbs will go off above the kids’ heads and things they’ve been struggling with will start to finally make sense. You’ll be able to figure out problem areas, create a plan, and work through them. Some days will be hard, but you will grow from it, learn from it, and turn every day into a learning experience for yourself as well as your kids. The family bonds will grow tighter. Your faith and humility – and therefore knowledge and charity – will grow. Because you are taking on this challenge, you will ALL be better people next May when you put the books back on the shelf and take the swimsuits and beach towels out of storage.

Your Father in Heaven will help you. Your friends and family and neighbors will help you out. Other homeschool moms you know, either just on Facebook or in real life, will help and support you. And I am here to help you too! That is the point of all of these blog posts. You’ve got lots of resources. You’ve totally got this.

See? Now don’t you feel ready for school to start?

It looks like I better go hurry up and clean my van and pull those weeds, then! 🙂

Happy Homeschooling!

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