Sunday, July 30, 2017

How do you Plan a Homeschool?



I know this is going to come as a major shock, especially for those of you who saw my recent post about my sweet awesome summer organizational system, but it turns out that I am not, generally or specifically speaking, a "planner".  I know, take a minute and collect yourself up off the floor. I was shocked too. Let's move on now.

The first year we homeschooled, I used one of those all-in-one curriculums, because I was afraid I would miss something and my child's education would be lacking and she'd never get into a good college. Which just feels HILARIOUS now because my daughter was 4 at the time, and our whole job was to read some books and sing some songs and color pictures. But just the same, I was neurotic and I wanted someone else to tell me what to do.

And it wasn't bad! We did My Father's World, which comes with a teacher's manual which is basically an already filled out lesson planner with explicit instructions for different subjects and for each day's work. My daughter loved it. Except when she hated it. Children are complicated. 

Now because I was neurotic and she was my eldest, she had learned most of the math and language arts that they were teaching in that book before we "started homeschooling" (see how stupid that sounds right now?), so we supplemented with our own teaching, while still doing all the too-easy stuff. Because you have to do what the book says you have to do, right? Rule followed. Box checked. Child exacerbated. 

The next year we ditched the all-in-one curriculum, joined Classical Conversations, and then, ::dun dun DUUUUUN!:: life happened.  Basically, I was scrambling. My eldest was on to first grade, and days before we started our school year, our adopted daughter moved in with us. She was just about ready to turn five and so... Kindergarten? PreK? I mean, I dunno. How would I know? As we joined CC, I was questions about my family. They asked if she did better working for me as a tutor or someone else. If she should be in a class with her sister or if it would be better for her to be on her own. What her strengths and weaknesses as a student were. I don't know, I shrugged. I don't know her! I don't know her life! I have no idea whatsoever if I can teach her, and I have no idea what's about to happen to me! Can you hear the panic in my voice now! Because oh man it was definitely there!

So we... went with that, called it Kindergarten and decided on a plan called Go At Your Own Pace. Now THIS I can totally recommend. Because forget you, "grade levels". My kid is learning at the pace she needs. No, thanks, I don't know what grade my kid is in. I have no fracking clue what developmental standard the public school would say she's at. Purple. She's in Purple Grade and she's getting straight Wallabies in all her subjects. Now leave our learning alone.

Side note: I know that sounds straight up bananaramas to those of you who haven't homeschooled. I mean, we need grades, right? We need to know what kids are supposed to know. We need to know if they're acing English and failing math. ... Right?

I definitely thought so before we started homeschooling. Hence my desparation for a "full curriculum". I needed to make sure my daughter learned the right things at the right times and was getting school in the right way.

Then over night, we got a new student. One that came with a therapist and social workers and "Bio Family Visits" three times a week. And food aversions. And work aversions. And me aversions. In short, overnight, God broke my family, and he broke my brain, and he broke any plans and preconceived notions that I was still clinging to.

I had plans. I've had curriculums. I am a person who likes to set goals and likes to make lists. And Truthiness Moment here: I want my kids to be super duper well educated. I wanted them to be impressivly smart. Because one, everyone who likes homeschool touts the fact that they will be. Homeschool is better and thusly, the kids will be smarter. Plus if people doubt all my life choices, like people do, I could always just parade my super genius offsprings in their faces, and that would be the end of that. That was the goal. Those were my plans.

But turns out, my children are people too. And "people" aren't always awesome at living up to their parent's self-agrandizing dreams. In truth, we've had days, DAYS, devoted to the simple learned fact that "if I asked you to write the answer to this question, you will write the answer to this question, even if it means missing lunch time and play time and dinner time and even an appropriate bed time". Because sometimes, that is the important lesson. And the kids learned. We had a math curriculum I tried. And it was good, but it was hard also hard, so the next year, we did all of it over again. And the kids learned. I had a planner last year that I filled with times and schedules and all my dreams for the year. Then I kind of used it for almost a whole month, before it got shoved into the back of my homeschool cupboard to gather dust. We set a plan. We adjust. And we learn.

One thing I want to learn is how to be better at the planning and the organizing. I went to keep better records. I want to set goals and then accomplish those goals. And I desperately want to stick to a planner past the month of August because GEEZ. Remember "epic fail"? Because last year was epic freakin fail.

Instead of just accepting my dumb self as I am, I'm making an effort. I am taking a step towards growth. Toward betterment. Toward being all that I can be except not in the Army because I'm afraid of guns and people and I lack upper body strength.** And I learn.

So yes, I'm making plans. I dropped 15 bucks on this totally out of my league planner, sat down with my curriculum and my calendar, and started to map out our upcoming year.

But how do I plan now, you ask, in my fourth year of homeschooling? Learning all that I have over these past few years? The answer is simple:
In pencil.


*That's how she sounded things out. For about 5 months. Every. Single. Day. For hours. Shout outs to coffee and delusion, you're the only reasons I'm still alive today.
**Shout out to the troops. You are awesome troops.

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