Sunday, August 21, 2011

Getting ready for (home)school

It occurred to me on Friday that I need to submit my annual homeschooling plans this week.

Then it occurred to me that to do that I need to come up with some plans. I might even need to order some books.

I knew there was something I didn't like about August.

In truth, homeschool planning has been on my back burner for a while. But you know how life is: sometimes those back burners stretch out to the horizon, and pots bubble away into infinity.It takes a deadline to pull something to the front. It's one reason I like deadlines; they keep my life moving.

This year I need to prepare Dancer for the more rigorous work of high school. So after I resolved to front-burner the homeschooling plans, I retrieved a syllabus I'd lent out to someone years ago. That looked good, so for 8th grade Dancer will be doing Greek literature and history: Herodotus and Homer and Sophocles and Plato. In translation, of course. The younger two will do a survey of ancient history. We can overlap with art history.

The drawback to this brilliant idea is that I have to get organized in order to do it. And I'll have to stay organized to stay on top of it.

Now isn't that a bummer!

I am not a micromanager. Detailed schedules and complex lesson plans give me the willies. I believe kids should be self-taught learners, so in my dreams I hand them their books and say, "Get through this stuff by June. Come to me with questions or if you need field trips or art supplies."

Alas, I can't do that. So I take a scheduling approach that I suspect has some vague connection to the farming approach of my Swedish forebears, who plowed around the immovable rocks in their fields. I plunk the time boulders into our calendar -- co-op on Wednesdays, construction class on Thursday, art on Friday, and soccer on the weekend -- and then focus on how to make the academics work. 

The school work follows the same approach: Big stuff first, smaller stuff second, little stuff last.The only real question is what falls in which category.

But that's always the real question, isn't it? 


  1. You are so good for my novice homeschooler's soul! Thank you!

  2. Really?! Gee. I'm so glad.

    I was thinking after I posted this that folks are probably going to wonder about why I put the outside activities first. But it's because I plan social time as a 'class'; if I don't plan our out-of-the-home time correctly, the kids are perpetual malcontents and homeschooling doesn't work. I've learned the hard way that out outside activities have to be calibrated entirely to the kids' needs, not mine.

    The homeschool things I plan tend to be either the things I love or the things I forget if I don't put them in the schedule.

  3. (I hope the above came across as kind of shyly pleased, because it always surprises me when someone finds something helpful!)

  4. I believe my daughter should be a self motivated project doer, alas, not the case! Your comments made me laugh because I am facing my own unreasonable expectations of her and of me. I talk about your site all the time because your posts are valuable to others, not homeschooling, freelance writing, special needs others....just others. It is your honesty, vulnerability, and directness that have me check your site regularly.