Back to School!

back-to-schoolYesterday was our first day of school
for the 2014-2015 school year!!!!

I’m a little leery of this school year, and in other ways, very excited.  It’s going to be FAR different from any other year we’ve done for several reasons.  First, Lydia is in HIGH SCHOOL this year.  ((Well, technically.  We don’t do ‘grades’ per se, but she’s the equivalent of a HS freshman.))  reunionThis means that she’s going to be doing independent work, starting this year.  Writing papers, doing essays, researching topics.  It’s going to be good for her… and I think she’ll like it.  She’s a writer, like me.

Second, we’ve got quadruple the extra-curriculars that we’ve had in the past.   In the past eleven years of schooling (and yes!  I’ve been homeschooling ELEVEN years, now!) we have had ONE night of dance class, and that was our evening out.  This year we’ve joined a chess club, have TWO days of dance class (with four children now dancing, it doesn’t schedule for one night, anymore!), and as a family, we’re doing a karate class that meets twice a week.

coopOn top of those, we’re in a homeschool co-op that has a once-a-month field trip, and also we’ve joined an afternoon once-a-month homeschool exploratory group that I really like.  Every month with this group we study/experience something different… so far we’ve been to two meetings (Sept and Oct), and the first one was sand art utilizing negative space, and the second was a presentation about creating with stained glass… we met at a church, talked with the artist’s wife, and then got to try our hand.  So… yeah.  It’s a LOT more than we’ve ever done, before!  Also in the once-a-month category, we are doing a hymn sing meeting.  Yes, yes, gritting thru the ‘Jee-zus’-ing, but it’s good for us (and most hymns aren’t crammed with it, like praise songs are).  We also joined a post card swap, and already have gotten twelve states worth in the mail with kewl facts about their state and what they like about it in the mail (six a month – my kids LOVE getting them in the mail!).  Just kewl, fun stuff.  And of course we’ll be picking back up more regularly with our pen pals, now that we’re on schedule, again.

online-school1Thirdly, our school year is going to be different because we’re doing a LOT more on-line and video stuff.  We only started using DVDs and computer programs two years ago.  The first year we tried it, it was for typing (for Lydia), and for Chemistry (Discover & Do experiments) and Sign Language (Signing Time).  Last year we added a lot of little computer programs that drilled the kids on math factors, grammar, geography, sight reading (musical notation), and we watched videos for character study, Hebrew figures, Spanish, ASL, and [Jiminy Cricket] health.  This year, we’re doing more of the same, except that I’m going to be adding an on-line CLASS… “History thru Time with Dr. Who” (seriously!), Guitar lessons off YouTube and three EasyPeasy courses (Music History, Art History and Spanish).  I’m a little nervous, because I don’t want TOO much screen time in our school… but there are SO many amazing resources out there!  I’d like to start really utilizing the stuff I’ve pinned on Pinterest, instead of it just sitting in a file, there.  SO many goals, so much exciting and interesting things to try and do!

Some of my on-line friends wanted to see the schedule for this school year.  I’m always leery about it, because what I do isn’t necessarily what other people do.  But every year I *do* make up a weekly log sheet that we work from.  I don’t care WHICH day we do what (because life happens, and some time slots are bigger than others), but the goal is to get everything done by doing a portion a day.  This is the schedule for this year:

img002 (927x1280)

I also have a weekly schedule so I know how things fit,
but I can’t put it on here [privacy reasons].

Frankly?  I’m overwhelmed, just looking at it.  BUT… we didn’t have enough last year to keep us busy.  The kids were asking for more, and while it LOOKS like a lot, when you consider that most of it goes really, really fast… it’s not that much.  Singing a hymn takes three minutes.  Reciting a memory verse?  A minute and a half.  Copywork?  Five minutes.  And not everything is every day… only the stuff with check-off boxes.  The stuff at the bottom is weekly.

preventive_maintenance_programI’m finding that this year, though… my schedule needs sub-schedules.  For example, I put ‘Karate/Dance/Gym’ on there.  Do I make three separate sections to mark off, there?  Because I’m hoping to start the day with our stretches and Karate 15 basics, and wrap up with the stuff they need to work on for dance (splits, etc.).  Then later in the afternoon I want to get downstairs and do weights/endurance/cardio.  How much do you schedule?  And what about electronic school?  It’s not ADDITIONAL, it’s substitutionary.  They do ‘math’ every day, but on e-school day, they do computer drills via Kevin Bradford programs or math balls.  KWIM?  I don’t know how much to schedule, and what to just go with.

The good news is that this first week is all about trying the new school session on, and seeing how it all fits.  We can tweak it as we need to.  But there’s SO MUCH that I want to learn, and try and taste.  And they’re just as bad as I am, chomping at the bit, ready to go, excited about the schedule.   To be honest, last year there was too much down time between things.  Too much time where they were just… well, they are creative and play well together, but they had the desire to do more, and felt like they were *waiting* a lot.  So we’ll see if this fits!

PS:  Thought about sharing the resources we’re using, but this is pretty long, and I don’t know if people care or not.  Hrm.

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