Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lessons Learned

I got a new computer!! You cannot even begin to understand how happy I am. I got a laptop so I can take it with if I need to. It has been a search, that's for sure. Hubby and I have become research people. Before we would just get what we wanted and if it broke, oh well, get another. Not anymore. I finally got what I wanted. The keys feel great under my fingers, they're spaced right, and it's easy to navigate. Love it!! But that's not what this blog is about. When I got the computer home and got it set up all I could think about was how I couldn't wait to blog. So, here I go.

This has been a school year. We aren't even half way through and I am tired. I'm not tired of homeschooling. I'm just tired. Come the end of the day it's all I can do to not pass out on the couch at 7 pm. Some nights we aren't even home at 7 and I still want to sleep. I have to admit I fell asleep at piano lessons the other day. I was sitting on my friend's couch, and there I went. Good grief, I hope I didn't snore. The big girl and her friend were standing right next to me talking. That didn't stop me. The baby had about 15 minutes left and my body decided to take advantage of it.

I used to lesson plan for months at a time. I planned from the beginning of school until Christmas break. Why? Because I was a lunatic. It was also much easier then. I was only schooling 2 kids. The baby was still a toddler and played in her room or colored while she sat at the table with us. The curriculum was easy to plan. 2 pages a day in every subject. Just follow the book. We also didn't have as many activities as we have now. We only had 2 dance classes, park day, and church. We were done schooling by 11, 12 at the latest most days. Oh, how things change. Now when I lesson plan, I plan 2-3 weeks at the most, but not more than that. Things change in this house too quickly for that. Now we're at 7 dance classes, park day, piano, veggie co-op, church, field trips, girls club, book club, Pokemon club, and I know I left something out, but I have no idea what that would be. I fill out our schedule before I even start planning. I had to get a copy of my menu planning paper and fill it out with activities and what subjects we would do on what days so the load would be school light on activity heavy days and school heavy on activity light days. It takes me at least an hour to lesson plan.

One reason for the time consumption is the curriculum we are using. The big girl is using A Beka for everything but bible. I used to despise that curriculum. It was boring and dry and not for us. Amazing what you'll use when it's free. I have to say, though, it is not what it used to be. It is engaging and detailed and the big girl likes it. The hardest part is the detailed part. There is so much information. I do have the lesson plans that came with each subject, but they are made for school. We aren't school. We don't have homework. All of our work is homework. I mostly follow the lesson plan, but there are some things I have to change. You should see the chapter review in geography. It would take the big girl at least 2 hours to complete. In school, that would be class time, then homework. We don't have that kind of time. I broke it up over 3 days, then test day 4. We are 5 day a week schoolers now. We only do math and bible on the 5th day, but anything that didn't get finished has to be done on Friday. If not, that means Saturday school for whoever didn't finish. Yuck!! Nobody wants to do that. They do sometimes, but nobody wants to.

I sit with everyone for almost every subject. Bible we do together. The boy and the baby have history and science together, so that gets knocked out pretty quickly. Then I sit with everyone, one at a time, and we go over math. When math is done, it's time for language arts. The baby is using Rod and Staff for grammar. Oh, how I wish we would have used this so much earlier! I cannot say enough great things about Rod and Staff!! Since the baby hasn't really done alot of grammar, she likes when I sit with her. The boy and the big girl are doing literature based studies this year. I have found that if I don't sit with them and talk about the story or go over the questions, things don't stick in the brain like spaghetti to the wall. And I need to add grammar to the mix for the boy. Ok, fine. Then there's geography and science with the big girl. I know that she's smart enough to do the work on her own, and she does. We do the reading together. I do try to assign just the reading part to her on busy days and then the question parts on not so busy days. Most of the time, that works.

We still have to get chores done. Saturday has become errand day and Sunday has become chore day. The exception is those chores that have to get done every day. Feed and water the chickens, gather eggs, and unload the dishwasher get done every day. Every couple of days, someone needs to get a load of laundry in there. Whoever does their laundry then has to get it folded and put away. Lunch is important. We break every day for chores and lunch, which takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Some days work goes with us when we go to activities. It either gets done in the van or at the activity.

 One reason we gave up science co-op was because I felt like I had to shove a week's worth of info into an hour I didn't really have to shove it into. I had to make sure they were familiar with the info and they were ready for co-op day. It was too much. Now I feel like I have some control. I can spread the information over a week. We can take our time and get it done. I know that the big girl understands hers and the boy understands his. I don't have the pressure. We don't have to make that a priority unless it has to be. If there's something that's more pressing we can focus on that. It's like the weight of the world. Well, at least I feel like one world is lifted off me.           

By the end of the day, I am exhausted. My brain is mushy. Poor hubby thinks I've forgotten who he is. I really haven't. I'm just tired. We were talking about it tonight. School is a priority for us. Gone are the easy days of done by noon and sleep til 3. Not that I ever got to nap that long, but still. The big girl is a 9th grader. It is very important to us that she do well with her school work. I have cut out all I can for her. It's as light as it can be. The boy is now in middle school. His work isn't going to get any easier from here on out, either. The baby is asking for more work and she's about to get it. BUT, it's work that she can do independently. I like that. She's going to start some critical thinking activities and handwriting. All I need to do is grade it. Yea!

I am already planning curriculum for next year. I wish it was something that I could do over the summer. No it isn't. Who am I kidding? I have an addiction to curriculum. I enjoy the lesson planning. It's like a puzzle. It keeps my brain moving. That's why I like loading the dishwasher. How much can I get shoved in there without overloading it? Crazy, I know. But, what did you expect? It's me. I have some guidelines for high school I have to sort of follow, but I still have lots of leeway for the boy and the baby right now. And really, this is just a stage of life we're in right now. It won't be this way forever and I am embracing every second I can. I may gripe about it, but I'm hanging on for dear life.

Have a great day.

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