Wednesday, August 07, 2013

It's that time of year

As much as I don't want to, I need to start thinking about school plans for the fall. We have done very little formal school work this summer and I have appreciated the break. (I may change my mind about that when we start back. That first week of math can be unpleasant.) I think my children have appreciated it too, in that they are starting to ask when we will begin school and what we are going to be doing. I have the general idea in my head as to what we are going to be working on, but the details are still a bit fuzzy.

You would think that by the 16th year of homeschooling I would have the logistics of it all worked out. I thought that as well, but as I think about how the school year is going to work, I'm realizing that I really need to go back to the drawing board and rethink how we are going to do school this year. It's all because I've never had this odd set of ages and abilities before. And it is a bit odd.

Here's the spread. I have two doing high school work. A. is a sophomore this year and her studies are pretty much set. She likes school work and together has helped me figure out what she will be doing. Having finished algebra II over the summer (she didn't take the summer off... her choice), she is now working on geometry and trig this year. (For the curriculum junkies out there, she is using Video Text which seems to work well for her.) Chemistry (Apologia) is on the docket for science and for history/writing/literature she will be using Worldviews of the Western World from Cornerstone. It's pretty intense, but she likes textbooks and she likes having a lot of work. I also have her using a writing curriculum from the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a book on Latin roots of words. It feels like a lot, but it's what she's asked for. She's the easy one. I pretty much set up what she needs to have done and she figures out how she will fit it in. I am merely the resource person and supplier of books.

But I said two high schoolers. Those who know our family well, are scratching their heads because P. is not yet in high school and B. heads off to college in a couple of weeks. Who does that leave? Well, it turns out that our house guest (I'm going to need to figure out a better way to refer to her) has had a fairly interrupted educational past. I have been working with her to fill in the gaps. It's completely different from what A. is doing, but once again, I am more of a resource person and answerer of questions than anything else. It's been interesting.

P. is in 8th grade and is also becoming fairly self-sufficient. She will be working on physical science (Apologia) and pre-algebra (we use the Key to... books as a warm-up and then move into Video Text). Roman history is on the docket for everyone, but P. will be doing much of hers independently (using Famous Men of Rome and the study guide). She would also like to focus on horses this year, so I need to decide how to do that. And there is always language arts (a combination of Rod and Staff and Christian Light). I'm also going to have her start reading some literature this year. I need to keep a little more on top of her as she figures out how to work independently, but it's not so much daily checking up.

And then we come to everyone else: three 10-year olds, a 7-year old, two 4-year olds, and a 3-year old (son of our house guest). It's complicated by the fact that more than a couple of those children are not working at their chronological age. I may have three 10-year olds, but I don't have three in the same grade. One is pretty advanced, one could be pretty advanced if schoolwork didn't trigger a huge fear response, and one has years and years of gaps to fill in, essentially making her about the academic level of a kindergartener. The 7-year old is two years behind his chronological age. The 4-year olds are chomping at the bit to do real work, and the three year old is a very active three year old boy. (Anyone one who has experienced a very active three year old boy is now nodding their head appreciatively.)

The question that has been rolling around in my head for the past couple of week is what in the world do I do with this crew? My first thought was to clone myself. It really did seem like the simplest idea. If only it would work. What I've done in the past with all of my grade school age children is that we spend the first part of the morning with everyone doing their math and English, independently if they could or with me helping. We then joined together for everything else... reading about things, doing projects, making crafts, etc. I'm just not sure model is going to work for us this year. The age range and ability range is just too huge.

We will still all learn about the same things... Roman history and botany for the first half of the year moving onto marine science in the second half. I'm also realizing that I really need much more of an early elementary focus for most of these people. Lot of story books and hands-on learning and play. As I write this, I'm realizing that what I need to do is move my more advanced fifth grader into a more independent learning mode for more of his work. He would still join us for projects and crafts, but he can handle a lot more academic work than the others at this point. This is not set in stone, as I'm still not feeling quite settled about the whole thing.

I'm not sure I really like the whole children grow up-thing. It makes me feel a little melancholy and wishing all my children could be little again.

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