Homeschooling

Homeschooling: Love the Year You’re With

Out of control. Disorganized. Fly by the seat of my pants.  Does the start of the school year always feel this way?

I don’t think it does. I am pretty sure that our past school years have followed the plan a bit more closely.  But I can’t be sure.

What I am sure of is that the kick-off for this 2016 school year was far from a touchdown. It feels more like life intercepted the ball and ran the other way with it and I am watching the ball leave my side of the field without a plan to get it back.

Homeschooling: Love the Year You're With

What is so very different about this year? What feels so out of control?

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My oldest daughter is out of the house every morning. Babysitting Mondays. Teaching/Volunteering on Tuesdays. Class on Wednesday and Thursday. And we all have co-op on Fridays.  This is a major adjustment for our family because we normally do school in the mornings.

And then there are the sports which are consuming my typical planning and weekend time. Gymnastics THREE times a week for the oldest. Two kids in soccer, each practicing on a different night. Two games on the weekend, one for each child, which typically take place at the same time as the three-hour gymnastics practice.

Don’t forget about boy scouts on Sunday afternoons! And piano lessons on Thursdays. And art class for one child every other Wednesday.

A five-week co-op is taking place every Friday right now and I am teaching two classes there!

Toss in a mom who spent most of September feeling sick and you have the all of the necessary ingredients for a very imperfect school year.

Now that I’ve painted the picture for you, you can imagine my complete shock and surprise when I heard my two daughters talking about how this was their most favorite school year ever so far.

WHAT?

Best school year ever? How can they say that?

My mind begins to run down my internal “good school year checklist”.

Field Trip Fun?
Nope. Nothing planned. Not even more than 1-2 playground visits so far.

Nature Walks?
One. Only one in 2 months.

Morning Basket?  (learn about here)
Much more inconsistent than I’d like to admit.

Learning together?
Not this year. For the first time. History and Science aren’t being taught to all four kids together.

Art?
One lesson completed.  In two months.  Enough said.

Everything feels so out of whack.

Yet my daughters just declared this the best year they have had in school.

Why? Why? I ask them with genuine curiosity.

Turns out that one daughter feels really good about math this year. The other loves all of her morning classes and activities.

They return to their schoolwork and chatter while I process this information and begin to see our school year through their eyes instead of my own.

My oldest daughter has her cup filled every morning. Classes. Teaching. Earning Money. Social time with friends.  These are the things she loves!  She is almost 14 years old and last year began to feel boring for her at home.  I worked hard to find ways to fill her time and apparently, I did a great job!

Yet. I miss her. I miss learning as a whole family. And I feel a little crazy sometimes in the morning because there is always something on the day’s calendar.

My youngest daughter struggles with math and she specifically asked to conquer fractions this year.  After 5 weeks of hard work, she completed The Key to Fractions Series: Book Three with great success.  She is holding her success in high regard.  Her math success feels better than all of the potential field trips I could have planned.

My boys are both happy.  They laugh.  Play outside.  Shoot me with Nerf Guns while I try to make lunch.  They don’t feel the lack of all of those items on the checklist in my head.  Their day at home includes learning and playing alongside mom and their sisters.  They are good.

My kids don’t have the same internal school checklist.  They are focused on the year that is happening in front of them and not the one I had planned.

And slowly, I begin to let my feeling of failure go.  After all, there has got to be a checklist for all that is being accomplished.

Smiles and Laughter?
Yep!  A ton.

Learning Basics covered?
Reading. Math. Occasional Writing. CHECK!

Big, Juicy Conversations?
All of the time. I’ve got me some talkers in this house. And the political season has provided a springboard for some fascinating discussions.

Playing games together?
Yeah, we have this one covered. Our latest purchase has been a huge hit!

Poetry?
Always.  Poetry Teatime Tuesday occurs weekly.

History and Science?
Loving our election unit. Enjoying time with our microscope.

Reading?
Not as much as usual, but yes! And we’ve had some great book clubs so far.

Fun with Learning?
Our five-week co-op classes have been a hit with every child. Cooking classes. Art using Mathematics. Building. Science. French. Everyone has found something they love.  On Fridays, learning is a BLAST!

I take a deep breath.

It’s true that our school year isn’t perfect.  It’s never is.

The day, the weeks, and the months haven’t gone according to the plan in my head. They rarely do.

But it is good.  We are good.  Our school year is good.

I am finished focusing on the plan I had for our school year.  Instead, I am going to enjoy the school year that is happening in front of me.  It’s time to love the year I am with.

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17 Comments

  • Reply Marni October 19, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Such a great post Mary! Way to reframe and see things through the eyes of your kids. I just love everything about this post. Love the year you’re with- awesome!

  • Reply Nadine October 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

    This was SO great! I’m in a fairly similar boat, and instead of scrapping the whole dang year, I’ve also decided to take a good look at the good things that are happening, and make some careful, thought out changes as we go along. This was such a well-timed post, and I think “love the I have” might be a new motto for me 🙂

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com October 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks Nadine. I wonder what is in there air….there are many of us finding this year is a very different start!

  • Reply Melissa Jones October 20, 2016 at 10:11 am

    My mom & I were recently reflecting on her homeschool mom life & she had said “I wish we hadn’t done Thursday morning classes, it made things crazy & I should have been home getting teaching done.” My response, “those mornings were the highlight of my weeks!” They won’t remember the crazy, they will remember the fun!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com October 21, 2016 at 2:16 pm

      I LOVE knowing this Melissa. It is so tempting to think “just eliminate the busy”, but sometimes the busy is where great learning is taking place!

  • Reply Amanda - Raising da Vinci October 20, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Mary, I can not tell you how much I loved this post! SERIOUSLY! I’m in a completely different stage than you, but our homeschooling has really changed the last few months, I’m not even sure why. It just feels out of whack for me.

    Yet, my boys are still learning. We did a virtual field trip today where we learned about chemistry and my son, 4, got every question they asked correct. I was like, wait WHAT? how do you know that? I even asked him.. HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? he smiled and said because it just does (referring to the chemical reaction that took place) I MEAN HE’S 4!!!! I know he LOVES science (why I started Science Saturdays over on my blog) but I was complete surprised by how much he is really learning

    Even without, morning circle time, our daily read aloud, trips to the park, nature walks.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com October 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm

      Amanda, I think we can ALL relate because no matter the stage, things are ALWAYS evolving and changing. Life brings new scheduling, energy levels, and activities every year. I am SO glad to hear that you are loving the year you are with 🙂

  • Reply Kimberly Bredberg October 23, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Yes indeed…”we can ALL relate no matter the stage”…SO true! When I read “Out of control. Disorganized. Fly by the seat of my pants. Does the start of the school year always feel this way?” I literally laughed out loud. Truly. But as I read on, I became sentimental, verklempt! And then I smiled, “I needed that!” From a mama that’s been on the homeschool pathway for nearly 25 years, Ive experienced my fair share of out-of-control-disorganized-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants… I call it creative chaos.
    Still, when I stumbled upon this post, I didn’t realize how much I needed the encouragement of knowing that I am not alone! My oldest daughter graduated from college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in piano performance and history and went on to be a Fulbright Finalist. My oldest son is a composer and filmmaker. My middle son is a freshman in college chasing a law degree. And my baby, um… I mean my youngest son, is 17, a high school junior, an artist, and intellectual (this past year a national Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards recipient for a short work of humor, and recently published in their Best of Teen Writing 2016). This year he’s reading philosophy and creating a chair encased in handcrafted chainmail!
    So when I came to your litany beginning with: “Smiles and Laughter” I knew I was in good company. And I was ecstatic to see “Learning the Basics” as part of a balanced whole. But when I came to “Poetry” and your response was: “Always,” I knew I’d encountered a kindred.
    Today I needed your insight as a reminder to just-keep-swimming. Being a poet myself, long ago I began developing curriculum to equip my little ones (who are all grown) and others over time to independently enter a story and come out the other side inspired to write an authentic idea. This, so that everything else we explored could go NOT according to plan! So that, together, we could celebrate the curiosity of hours and days.
    Thank you so very much!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com October 24, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you so much! Your comment made my day and made me smile! I love the idea of celebrating the curiosity of hours and days together. What a beautiful image of home and school together. Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. Congrats to you on your homeschool journey as you round the “final” bends 🙂

  • Reply Lynna @ Homeschooling without Training Wheels October 23, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Brilliant, Mary. Well written and such good thoughts. Thanks for “processing out loud” again for us so we can follow along with your own mental shift! (And now the comment is on your blog, too. 😉 )

  • Reply Kimberly Bredberg October 24, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Oh… truly… your words are an encouragement to this mom of four who has been on the homeschool trail for 25 years. Thank you for bringing a smile and knowing chuckle. Honestly… well said; well crafted.

  • Reply Diana November 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Hi there- I just stumbled on this article and it was such an encouragement to me. I have three kids, two of which are school age and we are homeschooling for the first time this year. The surprise of our start was that I suddenly had to have a hysterectomy the week school should have started. Do you hear the air letting out of the balloon? Nothing like major surgery to take the wind out of your sails. But God has been good and through this I have been learning what really matters and what is merely peripheral. But I still have guilt trips even this far in so it is wonderful to read this and breath deep. Thank you.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com November 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Diana, Wow. That is a HUGE change up at the start of the year. Major illness, surgery, or the like throws everything out of whack. I am so glad you are on the road to recovery and learning (like myself) to keep what REALLY matters in the front of your mind! Keep deep breathing!

  • Reply Erin Vincent December 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    I really love this!!! Seriously, your school year sounds like ours! So many plans…gone the way of the dodo. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com December 16, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      You are welcome. I think it is always good to focus on what is going right. I saw that Hogwarts castle – lots of stuff is going right in your house 😉

  • Reply Jenny White December 15, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I finally got around to reading this. LOVE IT! So encouraging and just what I needed to read at the end of our 1st semester. We definitely fizzled out this year. But when I look back at what we accomplished and how far they’ve come, and when I see how happy they are…well, I can’t feel all bad.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com December 16, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      So true! Learning is hard to stop, no matter how hard we feel like we have screwed up. 🙂

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