If you’ve been here longer than five minutes, you know I’m a planner, right? An organizer of sorts. Planning a new school year has become such an anticipated occasion each summer. I love to open up a blank lesson planner for the new school year and fill in those blank squares with the best mix of hands-on and fill-in-the-blank seriousness that I can muster up. Like a hunter/gatherer, I search all the best homeschool sites and order the new books for the new year and tootle around finding what we need to execute our exciting projects to come. I file, I make copies, I check boxes and then–sit back and marvel at those penciled in squares and wait with great expectation the year ahead.
This year, Labor Day rolled around and we were ready. The pencils were sharpened, the new books were shelved, and the school room was set and waiting to be consumed with activity. We began the fresh, new school year with vim and vigor and things seemed to be going along swimmingly for about four weeks.
But then, we moved.
The moving process started about six weeks before the actual move, so four weeks into our beautiful, new school year, it was consumed with packing tape, boxes, plan-making, and goodbye parties.
We’ve scraped along from mid-November till an early Christmas break began, just trying to get in the basics: math and enough reading to call it language arts. Read: not much school at all.
This is to be expected, right? It’s moving and it’s not usually clean and concise, but it’s messy, and the logistics of this particular move have seemed to be a 4.7 on the Richter scale of messy moves. Getting settled in a house of our own has proven to be trickier than we had anticipated. We are currently living separately, in separate states actually, but closer than we would have been had I stayed in North Carolina till our new house closes. We see each other on weekends and in the meantime, the kids and I are holed up with family here, there, and everywhere.
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I’ve had to let go of a lot things, my plans in particular.
This was a hard pill to swallow, to scrap my detailed plans and start all over, but after hashing out a thousand different ways to try to pick up where we left off four weeks into our lovely school year, I knew it was no use. Hence, we are:
Scrapping the Lesson Plans and Starting Over
I took a day-long sabbatical last Saturday, before school started over in January, and held a ceremonial burning of the original lesson plans. I started from scratch. And I printed out new lesson planning pages and filled in new squares. It took me all day, but I did it. The next twelve weeks of school are penciled in, new books have been ordered, and new supplies have been purchased (to replace the stuff we let sneak into storage…by the end of this transition I will probably own two of everything.)
Why couldn’t we just pick up with the original plans and keep going? Several reasons really:
- We have a cumulative layout for history. Things bridge off the previous events and there had just been too much time pass to make it make sense anymore. Plus, I know we could get a call from the bank at any time and say our house will be closing in just weeks (short sale drama) and we could be stuck in the same boat as before.
- Most of Sophia’s materials accidentally got packed on the truck. Along with a box of wine that has probably frozen and busted all over our things, Sophia’s math, language, readers, and history books are packed neatly on a truck we may not see for months. I hated to reorder what we already own and start in the middle of a book, so I chose some new things and we’re going with those for now.
- We all needed a fresh start. All of us are homesick for North Carolina–way more than I had anticipated. We are stuck in this not-quite-yet-arrived state and it’s really taking its toll on the kids and me. Trying to pick up where we’d left off in NC almost seemed to open up a wound, pretend things were back to normal when they weren’t, and put us back on a treadmill that didn’t work very well anymore.
So, what does the new plan look like?
- Bridging off our original history plans, I decided to grab the next topic, Vikings, and make that into a fun, longish unit study. We’ll be working on Vikings, which I feel is completely fitting and a little ironic that it was next in our book moving to Minnesota and all, for the next eight weeks or so. I have found new books, projects, and recipes to use for this unit and I’ll share more on that later, but I’m really excited to be focusing on something new.
- Sophia has a few new books on the way for language arts. I didn’t go crazy here, but I decided to get really basic with her. This move has really set us back in some areas of school, including her reading and writing. I’ll be having her do a lot of copy work to retrain her brain in word spacing and letter direction and we’ll be checking out lots of easy readers from the library.
- New materials. I have several new things that I’ve received to review lately. So I’m taking this opportunity to add these new things in and give my kids some exciting new material. With one week of school under our belts, we have been seriously loving these new-to-us materials:
- Zeezok’s music appreciation course (full review to come in a few weeks) and we are currently studying Bach. This month we’ll be covering maps of where Bach lived and traveled, his family history, make recipes he may have eaten, and create a lapbook to tie it all together.
- Noah has been using an online math course called Unlock Math since November when we first moved. It’s been a perfect change for him during this transition. He has loved using this program and it came at a perfect time.
- Christian Kid’s Creation Science: my original plans for science were tied into our history plans, so we’re finding some new alternatives. Christian Kids is a fantastic curriculum that is super easy to use. I’ll talk about this one more in-depth too, soon. We’re just doing science once a week and we’re making it totally fun. Some reading one week, some fun projects the next week to tie it together. Christian Kids includes simple review sheets as well, so we’ll use those on the project day to sum it all up.
I came up with a whole bunch of new journal prompts. We’ve always written in our journals everyday, but I decided to be more purposeful about journaling this semester and really use it as a thinking tool, rather than just writing what they liked about the previous day. I read some great articles, wracked my brain, looked at writing assignments and came up with 12-weeks worth of journal prompts. So everyday, they have something new and exciting to write about that will make them think and be more creative with their writing.
Needing a new and easy system to keep things moving as smoothly as possible in this grisly unsettled season we’re in, I decided to give the boys each new assignment books with plain spiral notebooks. I read a blog post about using these notebooks and I was totally inspired. I have been writing down each week’s daily work on Sunday nights so the boys can quickly and easily see what’s expected of them that day. Sophia is wanting one now too, so I’ll add her to the mix soon. It only takes a few minutes for me to look at my planner and create an assignment sheet for them too. They love checking off their boxes (apples don’t fall far from the tree, eh?) and completing their work for the day. It’s super simple and very effective.
So the moral of the story? We had a beautiful plan for the school year laid out before us and life got all crunchy so we burned the plan. I just knew it was not to be salvaged.
We’re not scraping along. And we’re not merely surviving in our school right now.
We’re doing pretty well, actually…especially with all things considered. Because we have a new plan…a plan that works great with our life right now. And this, my friends, is the beauty of homeschooling.