Last year was the first year I finally remembered to do a mid-year follow-up on my school year (cause I know everyone was just salivating at their keyboards waiting for the update I’d promised for the previous four years).
I didn’t mention the fact that, behind the scenes, I was enrolling the boys in school. That story broke a bit later, and while I’ve dedicated a few Quick Takes since then to our family’s adjustment, I thought I’d do a full update, for your sake, and for posterity, on how school is going so far this year: homeschool, online school, public school and special education school. I’ll break it down by child, otherwise it could get especially rambly…okay it will still get rambly but you can just skip to the kids that interest you most.
1. Addie, 10th grade, Queen of Heaven Academy.
Everything is still working well online for Addie. We actually just registered her with QHA for next year. The biggest difference for her this year is that she doesn’t need to stay sequestered in her room all day to complete work. With the boys in school, and usually in bed early, she can actually complete her work downstairs, and interact with us on a more regular basis.
2. Byron, 8th grade, Mish-mash of stuff I personally selected.
Moving assignment submission back to Schoology for the second trimester has been a big help in keeping on top of assignments for me. I would highly recommend using an online learning management system, or submission system, if you have trouble correcting paperwork, or get tired of filing all. the. paperwork that students create.
Just a side note to say that our IKEA hacked standing desk is going strong and is pretty awesome, especially since I turned it away from the cabinets.
[Here’s where if I’m on my A game, I’ll upload a picture of it in the morning sunlight. Man it’s beautiful.]
3. Edie, 6th grade, Also a mish-mash (This paragraph will actually have little to do with her specifically. So much for clever organizing.)
Edie, Byron and I still have our morning meeting most days, but I’ve focused less on memory work this trimester as we’ve needed more time for French lessons via DuoLingo. I’ve tried to continue to review the memory work introduced in the first trimester, and added in a few more longer prayers, and (since we’re studying anatomy) body parts/ systems. This was our last week before Easter break and admittedly, many, many meetings recently have been taken up by watching Shakespeare. We finished Macbeth and watched THIS production, which we enjoyed (Lady Macbeth is fabulous!) before launching into the second season of The Hollow Crown (which covers the plays Henry VI parts one and two, and Richard III.) Having just read Richard III, I had high hopes, and Benedict Cumberbatch did not disappoint. The live action productions of Shakespeare do take some liberties with the script, however, it makes for a very engaging story, especially when some of the monologues might otherwise get long and tedious. Snow days have interrupted the flow of this trimester (along with a very lovely vacation) but generally, Edie, Byron and I made good progress… with two exceptions; art and music appreciation. We also didn’t take any field trips this winter, which I hope to remedy as soon as we are free from last-minute Nor’easters. I’m going to plan better for art and music this coming trimester; for example, creating playlists of music well in advance so I’m not scrambling at the last-minute, and getting out art supplies, setting the table, and cueing up the lesson so I don’t forget and jump into something else.
4. Fulton, 4th grade, special education school
I hesitate to put into permanency online some of the issues we’ve had to tackle since Fulton’s school started this fall. I will say sending Fulton to school is still the right choice, though, for various reasons, the school he’s at might not be the best fit for him and our family, even though we initially all liked it so much. Fulton does well at school, in fact he’s a downright popular guy. He’s well liked by administrators, teachers, therapists, students, pretty much everyone. He gets opportunities in the classroom to do fun activities and crafts, and well as participate in school-wide events. There are lots of good things going on, and he comes home happy. He has a great team of nurses, and despite all the new germs, he’s had only one illness this year which we successfully managed at home. We are still doing early mornings, long bus rides and early bedtimes. It’s old, but less winter activities make it work with our schedule a bit better.
5. Teddy, 1st grade, public elementary school
Teddy still insists he doesn’t want to go to school in the morning, despite doing very well once there. His grades are great (he got a reward certificate to Applebee’s which was a win for all of us!), he enjoys his teachers, he gets along with the other students, and seems to fit in as a regular kid. At a parent conference, his teacher told me how Teddy is able to help other students in the class when they don’t understand the work, so then when he needs physical assistance, kids help him like it’s no big deal; it doesn’t feel like a one-sided relationship. Everyone is helping everyone; Teddy needs help doing some things just like everyone else. As the school figured out how to accommodate his chair, they gave him freedom to move around like other kids. He has an aide, but she’s not hovering around him, preventing him from interacting with the other students or just being a kid. In fact, if you ask him, Teddy insists he doesn’t have a one on one aide; he just happens to have three teachers in his classroom. All in all, I couldn’t be happier. At this point, I don’t think he’ll do summer program again, but I’d like him to continue at the public school next year.Teddy, for his part, continues to ask about being homeschooled again. But the homework! For first graders! My child is away from me all day and now his school work creeps into the few hours I have to enjoy with him! I think this is why ultimately, I will homeschool him again…just hopefully, not right away.
6. My feelings regarding being tied to a school schedule, or THREE school schedules to be exact, require their own take. Frankly, I don’t like it. I miss our spontaneous outings, and I hate planning my days around making sure someone is here for bus pick ups and drop offs. But, I know that, in reality, having everyone home wasn’t always beach trips and fun, spontaneous learning opportunities.
And with older kids, there is so much more learning that NEEDS to happen. A morning off, or last minute field trip requires work to be done another time. I used to schedule playdates, nature walks, etc. all the time without a second thought. Now, even with Edie and Byron, while we have some flexibility in when we do the work, it still needs done.
So, in general, there’s this transition from school being this laid back care free endeavor we all did together at home (when I wasn’t screaming or stressed out), to there being a lot more deadlines and necessary work for everyone. Surprisingly enough though, if I must be honest, I am more laid back now, with the two youngest in school, than when I was homeschooling everyone. Circumstances were such for awhile that the demands on my time were greater in number and severity and so while, in theory, we could be more laid back, our homeschool really wasn’t. It is in accepting help from outside schools, even with their schedules and homework, that homeschooling, for the rest of us, resembles the ideal I strove for for years against all outside obligations. So while I write about hating school schedules, they have actually been very good for us. Humpf.
7. And what of Tony and I? Although he still works from home many days, our daily walks have dropped off in number. I hope with more daylight hours and better weather, we’ll resume our habit, perhaps later in the evening. I’m still exercising daily and feeling like I should be getting more done in a day, but ultimately doing just enough without feeling burnt out in the process (so long as I’m in bed between 9:30 and 10 p.m.). I wrote it before but, truly, my life feels like it has margins. I’m no longer pushed to the limit of every minute. I probably could do more, but I don’t think it would make me happier. I don’t want to be lazy, or settle into sloth, but I enjoy the pace of my days now and it seems better for everyone that way.
How is your school year going? I would love to hear what’s working, what’s not, and how you balance it all. Write it down then link it up below in Seven Quick Takes! Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takers! I look forward to reading your posts!
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