Mid-year Reevaluation

Here we are in mid-December. Once we get through Thanksgiving, it seems like its a full month of holiday preparations. Not so much in the consumer-driven Christmas shopping sense, but rather a mental shift into holiday season mode. The month of December for us is about getting the house in order for the holidays, crafting, baking, putting our Christmas newsletter together to get sent out with Christmas cards.

This year in particular, our rhythm has changed quite a bit this month. With four weeks (or less…fingers crossed…) to go until Baby Julian makes his debut, our routine has changed a bit more than usual. There is still school work to be completed, and household needs to be met, and holiday preparations to get to, but to be honest, I’m wiped out! I have been blessed with easy pregnancies, and this one certainly is no different. But while I usually have an uneventful pregnancy, the last month I inevitably end up extra tired and swollen.

So I’ve had to shift things up a bit around here. Whereas at the beginning of the school year, I had 6 weeks of school work planned out, bins neatly organized, books reserved at the library several weeks ahead of schedule, right now I am kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I have pared down our schedule a bit to accommodate my personal slow-down and to acknowledge the slowing of the season. We keep up with our Science and History readings since we are actively involved in our co-op, and we keep up with our Math and Language Arts. But our other subjects are going at a much slower pace, with the attitude of “we’ll get to it when we get to it.”

One thing I have realized with this shift in our school routine – its okay to relax a bit. Rather than have weeks of lesson plans written out, I keep in mind what I would like to cover in a given week. My lesson sheets then become the record of what we have actually done. I think my A-type personality was stressed at first  changing to a “record what you do” rather than “plan ahead for the week” but honestly it is working out just fine.

I am also giving Kyri more “ownership” of her school schedule. She knows that I have a few things in mind for her to get done in a day, but she asks if she can do whatever she wants afterwards. Usually this means free reading or working ahead a few pages in her math workbook. If she wants to spend an hour working on math problems, I am learning to step back and let that be a good portion of our day, rather than try to shift her focus to get through a list of other subjects. I am learning to let her direct our learning. She stays motivated longer, is more enthusiastic, and this really is a great recipe for learning.

I continue to encourage her free reading. While she loves to read Early Readers (Level 1-3 books), she also likes to pick out a handful of science books. Just this week, after I selected a couple of books on snails to go along with our Science lesson, she started pulling books off the shelf on different sea animals. She has been reading all of the science books repeatedly this week as part of her bedtime reading time. This is a great way for her to learn – self-directed, following her own interests, with minimal push from Mom. As a result, she is spending more time learning about science topics than if I had scheduled an hour of Science reading during the week. And because she is reading the books herself, it frees up time for me to cover some of the other needs around here. While I love sitting down with Kyri and working through lessons, I also love moving slowly into this stage of independent learning.

As we slow down for the month of December (and most likely stay in slow-mo for January since we will have a newborn around here), I will be spending a little time  detailing our curriculum and subject schedule (as it goes in a typical non-holiday/non-newborn week). I’ve been wanting to do this since school started this fall but honestly kept putting it off, and a online discussion this week with homeschooling friends got me thinking about the nuts and bolts of our Math curriculum. So putting this first curriculum post together will be a priority in the next week or so.