A post written in April 2012, after we completed Cycle 3 two years ago. Republished here in July 2014 for those who are discouraged, overwhelmed, new to homeschooling, new to Classical Conversations, or new to Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
Homeschooling humbles me.
I’m inconsistent. I’m a perfectionist. I’m selfish. I’m distracted when I need to focus. I’m focused when I need to be distracted. I have poor time-management skills. And, boy, am I impatient!
For me, the hardest part about homeschooling is having the constant reminders of how inadequate I am. I have to come face-to-face with my failures every single day. I always feel like I miss opportunities. At the close of each day, I’m usually thinking
But regardless of how humbling this thing is, I still absolutely love homeschooling our children. It keeps me focused on Who provides my strength, Who provides the inspiration, Whom my children REALLY belong to after all.
The fact is, I only have a few short years with my children and then… I won’t have the messes, I won’t have the struggles, I won’t have to hear about how much they don’t want to do their math or writing assignments today, I won’t have to listen to petty arguments over who gets to play with which monster truck, I won’t have the interruptions that take me away from what I want to do.
And I won’t have the blessings.
I won’t have the sounds of silliness and laughter. I won’t have the reasons that I so enjoy visiting museums and parks. I won’t have the beauty and awe of discovering the world with these boys growing into young men.
That thought makes me want to seize every moment I can to pursue our love of life and passion for learning together. With them now.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I am a serious over-planner. I aim really high with everything I do. If I actually achieve everything I set out to do, then I know I didn’t aim high enough. And so, for those who actually read this blog, please keep my planning posts and long lists-of-links in perspective. Many of these things are NOT what we have done. It is what I wish to do. And my wishes are way higher than our real-life accomplishments.
So, let’s combine that with my crazy love of ideas. And books. And curriculum. Does it come as any surprise that we didn’t actually do everything we planned to do? And is that really failure, anyway?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I share this bit of honesty about myself to encourage others. Because this overplanning thing is one of my weaknesses (along with impatience and all my other not-so-great character qualities). And I think it’s awesome how God has prevailed over our learning -and our home – this year. My children have continued to blossom in the midst of interruptions and setbacks and curriculum changes. It has been a glorious year of discovery for us – not because of what I’ve done, but because of what He has done in our lives.
The following links will take you to the overzealous, utopian plans I had for this year:
- Narrowing it Down: What We’re Actually Doing: (BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! Let me regain my composure here… The title of this post is absolutely hilarious! What was I thinking?!?) Although we did many of the things on this list, we certainly didn’t finish all that we started – and we didn’t even START a couple of those projects.
- Our Reading List for Cycle 3: We read only a small selection of these books. (I keep banking on the fact that we’ll be back through Cycle 3’s American History studies three more times before it’s all said and done.)
- Classical Conversations at Home, Re-Visited. We had a lot of changes to our school schedule this year. What worked last year DID NOT work this year. Especially when we had chainsaws reverberating through our home from dusk to dawn. I used about 10 different planners before sort of giving up on the planner mentality. We reverted to checklists and stacks of papers, and it has worked tremendously better than anything else I’ve tried to use. That’s not to say I don’t have a list of what we’re aiming for each week as we finish up this school year, but it’s not written on the pretty CC planner I was planning to use. [Update: I now use a checklist-style planner that helps me kill two birds with one stone. I love my planner. Finally.]
- Mid-year we regrouped, and I made plans for the spring semester (And then I changed those plans about a week later when I fell flat on my face in a pit of despair…)
Along with these utopian plans, I was also planning to migrate our blog from Blogger to WordPress AND re-format it to be more user-friendly, but that still has not happened. One of these days, one of these days… maybe I will come across a person more gifted than myself that has time to do what I never seem to get around to doing on this site…?
- Did NOT listen to Story of the World at all this year. Out of all our suggested History Readings, we didn’t even finish American History Stories Volume 1 by Mara L. Pratt (much less the other three volumes). That took us through about… ummm… Week 2 of Classical Conversations. And we only listened to about a third of Edward Channing’s A Short History of the United States. Apparently, it wasn’t short enough for us. And, that was all we checked off of that list. (I’m glad I planned so well.) [Update: We’ve finally finished the first three volumes of Story of the World and are working on the fourth… 2 years later. Without the audios and a few long road trips, we likely would not have made it to the fourth book yet.]
- Out of our long list of American History Literature book selections, we only read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, Sign of the Beaver, Amos Fortune Free Man, Dear Levi: Letters from the Overland Trail and Helen Keller. But off the list, we read several books in the Sugar Creek Gang and Boxcar Children series, and we added Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt. And we read every picture book on our list, so that wasn’t so bad… was it?
- Dropped Saxon Math 5/4 and used Christian Light Publications Math 3. (On a positive note, Stephen did not run away screaming when I left the Saxon book out on the table. He said he actually missed the Saxon investigations. WOOHOO!!) [Update in June 2014: We switched back to Saxon after taking a hiatus and trying out several other programs. With a changed approach on my part (dropping the must-get-through-the-textbook mentality), we’ve had great success returning to Saxon.]
- Dropped Essentials and participated in a Sign of the Beaver Book Club, tying it in to all the great stuff we learned during first semester of Essentials. (And we are looking forward to starting Essentials again in the fall! The writing portion of Cycle 1 is much more appealing to us than Cycle 3’s was!) [Update: Stephen started Essentials in 3rd grade; although he was prepared intellectually, he was not quite mature enough to tackle Essentials. In August 2014 he is entering his fourth year of Essentials as a sixth grader. For a bit about how to scale back, visit this post.]
- Dropped using our Cycle 3 Internet resources as our primary history studies and instead used Time Travelers Studies: Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression and
World War II Units. And we are still working on the World War II Project Pack…. (Now how many weeks ago was WWII in our CC schedule?)
- Switched to using We Choose Virtues and reading related Bible passages as we tackle each virtue. (So we did not do the Book of Virtue Project…)
- Dropped Phonics Road to Reading because we just weren’t getting anywhere with it. We started using All About Reading, and – Voila! – now David is reading. (You can download the entire first week of the program to see if it’s a good fit for you and your child, and THEN the program has a money-back guarantee within the first year of using it. You can use up as much as you want and STILL send it back to receive a refund if you find it isn’t working for you. I thought, “What can I lose with this one?”)
- Are only on Unit 3 of Mr. Q’s Elementary Chemistry Curriculum, but we are still planning to finish…. [Update: We never did. So… maybe we will this year?]
- Switched to using Handwriting without Tears, and penmanship has indeed improved – without tears. [Update: Now we use Prescripts, which has provided extra memory work practice, also without tears.]
- And we did no extra Latin study aside from CC, no other foreign language – I’m still just trying to “figger out” the English language! [Stephen has been working in a Latin program for a year now, and all of our children enjoy the Song School Latin DVDs. Still, I am trying to understand my native language of English.]
But regardless of my long list of didn’t-get-around-to-its, David learned to read, write, add, and subtract. Levi recognizes his numbers, colors, shapes, and… every piece of construction equipment known to
man me. And Stephen passed all his proofs for Cycle 3 Memory Master.
Most importantly, after months of questioning and debate, Stephen made a decision for Christ this year. (And you just can’t schedule that into a planner. Believe me, I would have if it were possible.)
The fact is, I really have no control over the future. Though I planned the course, God established the steps. And those steps were up and down and all around and not so easy all along the way.
As we approach the close of this school year, I just want to say: it has been a fun adventure. We have enjoyed learning a whole lot of stuff (even though it was not everything). Yes, this has been a great and rewarding year.
And even though there are STILL many high falootin’ plans and ideas in this ol’ gal’s heart, I am so very thankful that …