Have you ever wondered how things really pan out in other people’s homeschools? Does it really look like the utopian pictures on the front of the A Beka catalog? Perhaps it does in others’ homes, but… not us. The more I learn to accept that it won’t ever look like that in our home, the more at peace I feel. (And the less inclined I am to fly off the handle.)
Every semester I attempt to take a look back at how our plans panned out and share what really happened because… although I try to piece together an ideal plan, this truth remains:
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21, NIV
Even so, planning is important to me. Without a plan, we don’t have vision or direction or goals. So… I plan and then pray that God will
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12, NIV
Part of numbering our days aright is planning well. Part of numbering our days aright is letting go of those plans when God has something else in store for our family. So… I’ve learned to not just plan but to hold those plans loosely.
Our Core Plan vs. Reality
Our core plan (for the 9-year-old and 11-year-old) included math, reading, writing (the Classical Conversations Essentials Program for older and a spelling & cursive program for both), and memory work (which includes daily map-drawing practice). The core plan for our 14-year-old has been Classical Conversations Challenge I.
We’ve had a very relaxed approach to memory work this year. Our children know most of the memory work (it’s our third time through Cycle 3), but it just really hasn’t been our focus as we take a needed and intentional “sabbatical” from Memory Master prep. I’ve seen the Challenge program unfold with our oldest, and I feel completely comfortable with scaling back on memory work right now. (Sometimes… we just need a break.)
You know, I actually kind of really like math. I was once a “real” math teacher in public and private schools. I even studied extra math in college for fun. Herein lies the irony. It is the one thing that has driven me absolutely bonkers as a homeschool mom. I already mentioned how we had started in one curriculum and then shifted to Saxon. Well… it didn’t take long for that choice to shift once again for our 9- and 11-year-old, and we abandoned Saxon for Singapore Math. And… after those first few shaky weeks at the beginning of our school year, we finally found balance in our mathematical chaos. (And of course our oldest child is rock-solid Mr. Steady working through the same thing he chose early this year.)
For spelling, the 9-year-old was finally willing to dive fully into Spell to Write and Read. His spelling progress is improving significantly now (which I think was just a matter of maturity now looking back). But… it’s not as straightforward for our 11-year-old. I still use an assortment of tools and techniques for him, one of which is prayer. We’ll keep working at it, but… I’m learning to accept that this will be okay. He may not ever spell well, but he really loves to write. We’ll just have to make sure he has a good editor. (Meriwether Lewis and other famous folks – many who wrote great works of literature – were also poor spellers. I’ll take comfort in that.)
Reading Plans vs. Reality
We posted our reading plans before the semester started. Although I’ll highlight a few things below, our reading plans and loop schedule are the framework for our entire year. It’s what makes our homeschool rock!
Morning Loop Plans vs. Reality
All of the “extra”‘s such as poetry, tall tales, art, and music study were arranged in a loop schedule. To find out more about what a loop schedule is, visit our Cycle 3 Loop Schedules post. In reality, our loop schedule turned out to be a lot more haphazard than how it appears on a piece of paper. We did no scheduled art projects, but I did get out the watercolor paints a few times for the boys to do whatever they wanted. That counts for something, right? And… Can You Hear It? still remains one of the easiest ways we’ve ever incorporated both art and music study into our days.
Even so, our art study shifted to American art once we published Script-n-Scribe Americana. We’re loving this incorporation of art and poetry study into our daily copywork!
Our daily science lesson ended up diminishing to a weekly (or less often than that) science lesson. We will pick back up where we left off… eventually. With Jay Wile’s Elementary Science Curriculum, I’m not so concerned about finishing the book. Whatever we get out of it will be fantastic.
Without getting into our extracurricular activities (drama, puppet team, and service projects), this is, in a nutshell, how our semester turned out. As time goes on, I’m shocked at how much we read books together. All of the boys read their own book selections independently, and yet we still come together to read all of these books, too. Just a few years ago, we struggled to finish 7 books over the course of an entire year. The more we read, the easier it becomes. Sharing stories together has become a central part of our lives. We’re able to grow from tales and experiences of others throughout history in all parts of the world. What’s more, Scriptural truths are revealed in every book we read. I cannot even explain how much I treasure the deep conversations we have as a result of reading together.
If you look back on your semester, and all you can see is what you didn’t do, grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and start listing everything you did do. You might even brainstorm as a family as you look back on your semester. It’s hard to see all you did with your children if you don’t ever write it down. And while we can always improve our endeavors (and our character), we can also rest in the fact that there’s always more to learn. We’ll never master everything because God is infinite, so learning about God and His creation is infinite. We have a lifetime to “search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2), and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to discover more about Him with those I love most.