Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Four Days

Four days?  Really?


Five springs ago, I met with a few other ladies at a mom’s house who had schooled at home forever it seemed.  She was willing to meet with all of us rookies and give us some pointers.  I am sure I came away with more than this but the one thing I remember distinctly is that she took a long planning weekend.  I remember it seemed overwhelming at the time-- planning an entire school year-- but she was living proof to me it could be done.

Last weekend was mine and Jessica’s fifth year to take a long weekend to plan our school year.  We’ve had an agreement from the beginning that if we were to take that kind of time away from our families that we wanted to honor them by working really hard.  It wasn’t to be a restful, fun girl get-away.  So every year, we go to work into crazy hours of the night but somehow in the midst of all those pages, books, late nights and calendars we manage to have a lot of fun.

Here’s the setting:  Jessica’s family owns their Grandmother’s home in Anson, Texas.  It is in a {mostly} quiet neighborhood and the house is decorated just as her dear Grandmother left it.

We have separate bedrooms and bathrooms.  There are two big tables and plenty of room for spreading out and making the biggest mess needed in order to figure out the 32 weeks of the school year.    Jessica eats better/healthier/weirder- slice that however you choose- than I do so the refrigerator has everything from celery and bell peppers to generic brand salsa and whipped cream.  The laminate counter is heavy with her rice crackers and organic peanut butter or my Chex Mix, Lime flavored Tostitos and really good coffee.   However, we both have a love for good ice and thankfully, Anson has a Sonic.

Our curriculums have been as different as our food choices.  In all these years Jessica and I have not used one curriculum that is the same so we never talk about and plan subjects together.  We certainly ask each other’s opinions and advice and we always want to see each other’s stuff-- mainly literature.

Every year its worth triples in value because now we know what helps us the most.  The “plan” is important to me for many reasons and one of those is just having something at which we are aiming.  I’ve never finished every little thing I set out to do and some how we always get a tad behind.

 Here is what I set out to do.

It’s easier to me to work in small chunks so I break down the school year into eight 4 week sections.  I figure out how many lessons of each subject need to be done in the 4 weeks to stay on track. (If I am checking our progress at 4 week intervals, it’s a whole lot easier to straighten the wagon than if I only checked in at 12 week intervals. ) I calendar all the children’s weekly activities and field trips we know about as well as family commitments, trips and visits.  I organized our “line time” choosing artists, composers, Latin and Greek words, hymns, poets and their poems, and interesting places in our world that I want to cover in our 32 week year.  This “elective” time is our favorite time of the day.  These are the things I am learning right along with them.  I make CD’s for them to listen to at night-- for fun and to re-enforce what they are learning and hearing during the day. {The iPhone voice memo feature has made this so simple because I can say/read anything, download to iTunes and burn a CD.} I make schedules for Monday through Friday because it seems almost each day is different.  I make a check list for each day for both children so expectations are clear.  I think it’s important to put one day away well and begin to anticipate the next day.  And maybe the most beneficial thing I put together {for me} is the oh so helpful chore list!  All four of us work together before Jeff leaves for work and with four working for thirty or so minutes, it’s amazing what can get done!  Jeff has named it “farm chores” even though we don’t live anywhere near a farm.  On our 5-minutes-from-anything-except-a-farm cul de sac, my bango music playlist and brushing our Golden Retriever is about as “farm” as we get.

Getting to work this long and hard is such a gift to me- and to my family- during the year.  It helps me to breathe easier not only now but months from now.  When I have thought through the weeks and months and gotten what I can on paper and filed away, ready and waiting for its turn, in maybe week 19, I can rest in my mind.  I can focus on my family.  I don’t have some long school to do list bouncing around in my head.  The rubber ball of school has been secured safely in a few files in my computer and in my filing drawers. {Not to say the ball doesn’t bounce out a few times during the year reminding me I missed some important things.}

Maybe the hardest part for me is that once all the work is done, I have to choose to hold these plans loosely.  My personality is to push through and get it done.  I like completion and checks in all the boxes.  I like to know that we can close up that book and know there is nothing left in it that we need to do.  But if in my pushing through we miss His plans for us that day, we’ve missed everything.  Putting aside my agenda, if only for a small slice of the day, has to be an option-- everyday.  Did I mention that was hard for me?  I have to remember that the only failure is not listening to Him.

School planning~ four days.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.  Proverbs 24: 3-4

 Wisdom, understanding and knowledge~ a lifetime.


Alyssa said...

What a productive time! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes look!

amanda said...

This is on my to do list today - to finish organizing school which will start for us in about two weeks. And I smiled as I read you liked completion and boxes checked - uh huh, I can relate. But there is such truth in - "the only failure is not listening to Him." Praying your school year is productive and Christ honoring :)