It’s time to get the house in order for yet another school year. Season-wise, the summer is almost gone. But we still did a lot of academic work throughout what is supposed to be a typical vacation time for most people.
In this column, we attempt to explain the impossible; what it takes to get ready for another year. This topic should be most revealing!
The summer consists of finishing what wasn’t finished during the (public) school year. The kids do math on a regular basis, but not as intently as they will now. The summer also includes time to look at the feedback that was given last year and consider it for the year ahead.
I take the time to do a five-plus-page evaluation that includes both letter grades and narraratives about how the kids are doing in a certain area.
Here are some of the areas I comment on/grade, in case you are wondering:
Math, Science, English/Literature, Piano Lessons, Kung Fu, Horseback Riding, Self-Employment Practices, Living Skills, Home Economics, Attendance, Behavior/Attitude, Comprehension, Social Skills, Maturity, Spirituality, Comprehension, Following Directions, Acceptance of Correction, Quickness to Forgive, Manners, Sense of Humor, Use of Time/Talent/Treasure, and Extra-Curricular Activities.
You may think that this is a lot of area to cover in a classroom and I would have to agree with you; it is. But home schooling gives us the opportunity to focus on the things we believe of importance, hence, the almost-entire list of evaluated areas I just shared.
This past year, the kids didn’t finish their Science and History curriculums, so part of preparing for the new year was to complete coursework from last year!
My preparation also includes doing a ton of weeding. I hadn’t looked at files and folders in my basement for a couple of years, at least, so this summer I decided to go through all the academic work the kids have done in the past.
In a way, it’s a trip down memory lane for me.
It is such a joy to see
- how their handwriting has changed over the years,
- how their numbers have gone from backwards to the right direction,
- how both children’s academic work could fit in one thick folder in the past and how this past year’s work gave each child at least two bulging folders full of assignments and documentation,
- and how things changed from me providing all the assignment direction to the kids taking more responsibility in organizing their own things. Wow! Imagine that!?
In addition to weeding, we spend our time looking for just the right curriculum to use for each child. Since each child is different, we don’t always get to do the economical thing and just buy the same stuff for both.
In fact, I have a number of resources sitting here on my floor, awaiting the tag sale pile, that we didn’t even use or that were not as appealing as we thought they would be when we got them either by purchase or inheriting materials from other people who were being generous towards us!
So, we are also getting the house in order by choosing what we feel are the important subjects to focus on this school year, just as we did last year.
We are also gathering up dates for things that would be good field trips and educational outings to enhance our home school education.
The calendar fills up (a little too quickly) for the time between now and the end of the school year. I am trying to monitor things so that we don’t end up feeling frazzled by December 31st!
We are also looking at last year’s schedule and determining if it needs to change; nothing lasts forever and that saying certainly applies here. We need more time for some things and less for others. Or maybe we need to eliminate something.
When we first started home schooling, I used to block out times with specific parameters – like from 8 to 8:30 a.m., a child would read, and so forth.
Now, I have a master schedule that each child uses that is individually tailored. I created it with a little help from a more-seasoned home schooler!
It is divided by periods but without specific times. It just needs to all get done by the end of the day! We add or take things away as necessary to accommodate the extracurricular activity calendar.
Since we also have an interest in international students, we get to fold into some special opportunities on campus at UConn.
We attended a welcome barbecue for new students recently (see photos) and will also be at the Crystal Pond with students by the time you are reading this column.
So, in conclusion, getting ready for another school year includes lots of things that most everyone goes through, especially if they are a teacher.
Obviously, we don’t have a dress code (we love snow days; we can do school work in our pajamas if we want to!) so we don’t have to go shopping when everyone else does. We can just go when we want to!
We consider time, academic expectation and factor in the margins along the way. There needs to be a buffer in between subject or activity to breathe and to relax a little.
It’s another year. My house is getting more and more in order. We started our concerted school year calendar on Aug. 23. I know that’s early for most everyone, but if we want to take a day off here or there during the off season and be tourists, we can do that. That’s one of the pluses of home schooling – flexibility.
Addendum: Jonthan, in pursuing his interests in Photoshop® and photography, as well as all things graphic, has created a home school logo for us. [See illustration]
You will notice that there is a motto in Latin. Thanks to our neighbor who knows Latin, we included it in our home school logo. Translated it means, “Look it up for yourself!” We hear that a lot at our home…. school!
Summer is over! Horror of horrors! Okay, as you could see, I was overreacting. Anyways, the week of August 23, 2010 I went back to school. This article will talk about how we (my mom, my brother, and I) prepare for the school year.
First things first - schoolbook searching. YUCK! My least favorite thing to do.
Sometimes, we go to expo’s, which are basically really big gatherings of people doing the same thing as you. I guess you could say it’s the home-school version of the Home-Show at the Hartford Expo Center. At least that’s my interpretation of it.
Sometimes, we look up things that we like on Amazon.com and see if we can get it for a better price.
Also, Jay (That’s Jonathan; I call him Jay because that was my grandpas’ name: Grandpa Jay) and I look over the evaluations our parents gave us at the end of the last school year to see what we need to improve on this year.
We have to weed through all of our stuff from last year, too. What a pain that sometimes is. We do this so we can get rid of things no longer needed.
We spend our first week easing in to our new schedules, so that we aren’t on full throttle the first day of school. This way, we can get a feel for what the school year will really be like!
As we go into the grind – as an axe waiting to be sharpened by knowledge – this is what it takes to prepare for another school year. Though we still need to do things to prepare, such as praying about what is to come. And we have come a long way.
Getting ready for the school year is not exactly too much we have to deal with because we normally have school all through the year (because we’re homeschooled). But in the summer we usually get less schoolwork, so we do get a bit of a break.
The reason that we have school in the summer is because otherwise, we would have to re-learn everything we forgot in the summer.
In fact, there are some studies that show that kids at public schools take up to three months to ascertain the knowledge they possessed last year.
So when we get back into school, we already know what we’re going to be learning about and have maybe even gotten ahead.
One way we do get ready for school (that is similar to public schoolers) is to go shopping.
At school, you always want to be fashionable, look your best, and have the coolest pencils.
Fortunately, the only other person in my school to contend with for looks is my sister, and I shouldn’t have any problem there. I definitely have way more cool pencils then her.
Sometimes you may want to study to get ready, and make sure your grades are better than anyone else’s. Once again I don’t have to worry too much about that. I had top grades in my whole school last year.
One thing that’s very important nowadays is having a computer that is powerful enough to run the latest word processing programs… and games. ’nuff said.
Of course, being at the top of the school in looks, grades, and computers isn’t all there is to being ready.
You have to prepare mentally for the tough year ahead. What really counts isn’t being the best looking, or having the best computer, or even having the best grades (although that is a good thing to have). What really counts is perseverance, a cheerful attitude, hard work, and being willing to try to do well even if you don’t get the best grades.
Posted Aug. 29, 2010