I don’t always write about homeschooling, but when I do, it’s because it’s August and I’m usually thinking about how great the next school year will be. Never mind the challenges of the last school year, this year is going to be different- I’m going to be different! Everything is going to go according to plan because my lesson plans are NOW done in color- COLOR! Moving forward in my delusion… (affiliate links below…but just a couple).
1. Last week I spent all my time writing up some posts so now any time someone asks me a homeschooling question I will be able to send them to my Homeschooling Page. I mean, I’m happy to email/ chat with people about their homeschooling questions, but I repeat myself a lot and nothing is better than good ol’ blog posts for sharing information in perpetuity.
2. If you didn’t purchase the homeschooling bundle I was promoting, know that you can buy The Catholic Homeschool Audit Workbook and Using Google Classroom in the Homeschool now – on sale! The Audit Workbook includes a code so you can download as many new pages as you need. Use the workbook every year to plan your big picture goals and evaluate what is working and what isn’t. And if you’re homeschooling older kids, I cannot recommend enough a learning management system like Google Classroom. I’m setting up several classes for Edie this year, and Byron’s decided to add a home-based French course to his college classes so I’m setting that up too. People always want to know how to get kids to do their work, or keep track of high school grades for transcripts; the answer is an online LMS. It’s great for kids and adults who misplace papers, and the ability to view deadlines in a calendar format and set reminders is huge for making kids responsible for completing work on their own without nagging. I’ve used Schoology with great success, but I love the simplicity of Google Classroom.
3. I interviewed Cheryl Swope for a recent Accepting the Gift post a couple of weeks ago, and since then have also finished her wonderful book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education For Any Child. Tony and I have long been fans of classical education, but after years of homeschooling, and numerous challenges, it got discouraging for us when it seemed impossible to live up to those standards. Even though the upcoming school year will be unique, it was good to reread those classical sentiments again and remind myself of what Tony and I were inspired by all those years ago. Once I put Swope’s book down, I started reading and rereading some more classical education titles and articles to continue pumping myself up. August was so nuts the last few years, my planning was always hurried and rushed. It’s nice to take my time again, read inspiring books, reread our own mission statement, and really think about what I want to accomplish this year.
4. Even as someone who hated waking up at 5:30 a.m. to start getting Fulton ready for the day, I will somewhat miss the external motivation created by having my kids enrolled in school. I needed to get up and get the boys out the door by a set time. And knowing when they’d get home each day meant I carefully planned to make sure stuff was done by then. When you have an outside job or demands, you need to do stuff at a set time or face the consequences. But as a homeschooler, you don’t have those external forces at play in your day in the same way. And on one had it’s great! We have all sorts of flexibilty. But on the other, it places all the responsibility on my shoulders to get up and get going by a certain time. It’s on my shoulders to check work, keep everything moving on schedule, and stay on task. It’s hard to keep up momentum without any reward or consequence. I mean sure, I love the feeling of a good day, when everything gets covered. Conversely, I know that sleeping in, straying from the schedule and skipping subjects will come back to bite me in the butt, but it’s not like I’m going to be fired or lose a bonus. I realized that that’s part of what homeschool burnout is, just the gradual wearing down of your resolve until you don’t have it in you anymore to keep everyone and everything on task. Studies have shown that will-power lessens over time, so it’s easier to resist something at the start of the day, vs the end, but that we can strengthen our will-power with practice (like a muscle). I think the same can be said about a lot of qualities – patience, fortitude, persistence. I’ve certainly become better at these things, in regards to homeschooling at least, through hard work, teaching my kids to do more for themselves, and dropping things that create unnecessary stress, but I think everyone reaches their limit. Even a powerlifter can only add so many weights to the barbell. External motivation pushes us and forces us to get stronger or meet goals whether we want to or not (or we face unpleasant consequences). But finding enough internal motivation to reach the same levels of strength in the above qualities, day in and day out, is hard. School provided external cues to stay on task, plus respite that made it easier for me to tackle everything when the boys were home. So while I’m looking forward to the flexibility of the coming year (and all my usual grandiose plans), I’m also a bit fearful of holding myself accountable for everything on my plate. I keep telling myself I just need to pray more, then I’ll be able to tackle it all with a smile, easy peasy!- but who will hold me accountable for that?
5. In other news, Hurricane Isiaias blew threw on Tuesday and left us without power for the day. Thankfully, our neighbor let us plug into his generator to keep our fridge going, and the power came back before the medical equipment ran out of batteries. It was just long enough to be fun, and not inconvenient or stressful. Temperatures stayed cool enough that we managed without the air conditioning and since grandparents were visiting, there was always someone willing to play a board game, read a story or engage in an intense Nerf/ light saber battle.
6. Today we’re getting hardwood floors laid in Fulton and Teddy’s bedroom and the hallway. I’m excited to get it done, but of course the installers are arriving at 8 a.m. and I’ll want to minimize trips into the bedroom during the day so I guess we’ll be setting up the living room as a changing station/ storage room? I’d love to take everyone somewhere for the day but COVID so hopefully the weather cooperates and we can at least be outside most of the time. It’s a week of fun adventures!!
7. When MDA camp got cancelled for the summer, I immediately (like, within the hour) starting researching other summer camps for the boys. By the end of the day, I’d signed them up for Camp Fatima in North Jersey, in the hopes that the August camp wouldn’t get cancelled. Well, it did but the camp sent awesome camp boxes this week filled with supplies to hold camp activities at home. There’s a program booklet that gives each day’s theme and the box has all the craft supplies. Plus the camp will be sharing activities online each day related to the camp. The MDA did offer online activities for campers, but back in June, we were so burnt out on Zooms, neither boy was enthusiastic about participating. Now, especially with a full box of supplies, they seem eager to get involved. I think it will be a great way to segway back into a school schedule. I’d held firm to a morning school review time all summer, but over the last couple weeks, my afternoon educational time hasn’t happened consistently. I’m planning to start our school year earlier than usual and I think getting back in a grove with these camp activities will be just the thing.
How was your week? Buy one of my books, then write your post and link it up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!