Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's the Carnival of Homeschooling!

It's been a long time since I've participated in the Carnival of Homeschooling.  I've had a long dry season during which I wasn't thinking much about homeschooling outside my own little world.  But when my nicely-planned homeschool world turned sideways (which is not as dramatic as being turned upside-down), I thought about the Carnival again.

And I am particularly glad to be back this week, since it's hosted at one of my favorite blogs:  Smallworld at Home.

Go check it out.  There are posts about picture books, writing resources, music education, AD/HD, and much, much more.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Plans? What plans?

Back in August, which seems like a very long time ago now, I was so proud of myself.  I had my entire school year figured out.  My books were all lined up and even purchased, mostly.  Science experiments planned and materials purchased (mostly - have to wait a while for the tomato plants).  I had a calendar with every week filled in, including overflow weeks and breaks, through June.  Planned breaks!  I'd always been one of those "we take breaks when we need them" homeschoolers.  But that hadn't been working for us - it's just too easy to get up in the morning and decide we need a break - so I thought I'd try planning our vacation days ahead.

And then one of the kids got bronchitis.  Who gets bronchitis in August?  We just put off our plans for a bit.  The bronchitis was gone in a week, but some new symptoms appeared.  Weird symptoms.  The family doctor couldn't figure them out.  So far, the gastroenterologist can't figure them out.

"Stump the doctor" is not a game I enjoy playing.

The general consensus is there's nothing serious or life-threatening going on.  But it's keeping the kid down, home, unable to do much.  Concentration is hard.  Field trips are impossible.

So... those great plans?  Mostly shelved, for now.  We're still homeschooling, and doing math and studying history and art and all those subjects, after a fashion.  But it's not happening the way I'd planned.

One of the great things about my particular family configuration is the ease of homeschooling.  Two kids, 18 months apart.  We are able to do a lot of work together.  My kids diverged in math and language arts a while ago, but we stick together on science, history, Latin, and art.   So with this sickness, and the related doctor appointments and phone calls, even the well child has had to make adjustments too: more independent, less mom-dependent, work.

We're finding our way, slowly, to a new plan.  I'm still reading a little, but instead of Herodotus and Livy for our history, we moved to Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World.  She's just a little more accessible, you know? We're moving more slowly.  That high-school level biology plan?  Not happening, at least not yet.  But there are science and nature dvds at the library, on Netflix and in our own collection, so the kids are still learning.

Flexibility is one of the hallmarks of the homeschool, right?  So I can decide that instead of using a writing program that seems too hard right now, we'll read and discuss and do a little writing on a classic novel: Huckleberry Finn.  That hadn't been part of the plan, but, why not?  This is as good a time as any.

So, plans.  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. That is Proverbs 16:9 in the English Standard Version.  We make plans, but sometimes things don't go the way we think they will.

Is the lesson "stop making plans"?   I don't think so.  I don't think my time was wasted. My plan provides a good structure for the things I'd like my kids to learn this year.  We are still following parts of it, and we can pick up the rest any time.  Or, we can continue to modify it. We can use different materials that aren't as challenging as I might like, but fit our lives right now. 
It is good to be flexible and not get upset when our plans don't work out.  Don't think I haven't asked God "What's going on? What was wrong with my plans?" a time or two. Or ten. 

One thing is sure:  homeschooling is still the way for us.  I can't even imagine a kid missing the first month and a half (so far) of school and ever getting caught up.  What a burden!  So, looking at the big picture, we can see this as confirmation of our, well, plans.

If you are experiencing some sort of event that is messing up your homeschool plans this year, take heart.  Remember to look at the big picture and why you are homeschooling.   Remember to be flexible and look out for the possibility that there is a better plan.   I'd love to hear all about it.