I like a clean slate. A break – to think, to assess, to make tweaks. I do this multiple times per year and one of those times is the week following the new year. We don’t start up with schooling until the weekend after Epiphany, which falls on January 6th, and so that week between the first of January and the beginning of school is for relaxing, spending time together, and thinking about what needs to be adjusted going forward in our school, our schedules, our home, etc.
I like to take an inventory of what went well and what didn’t go so well in the previous term. Do we have good habits that have slipped or what habits should we focus on? What has changed since we last started a term? Is everyone still waking up at the same time or napping consistently? Is someone now old enough to take on an additional or different daily responsibility? How is the chore schedule – did anyone age enough to be added in and taught how to do a new-to-them chore?
In our home, the last couple of years have meant a lot of moving around, but now we have been in our current home for four months and have settled in a bit. I am realizing that our schedule will (God willing!) have the opportunity to be consistent as we plan on being in our current home for at least a year, if not longer. With no moves, no newborns, no packing and unpacking, I want to be sure that our schedule has all the things that we would like to include in our days. We aren’t in survival mode right now, and our days should reflect that. I’ve ordered and used these schedule cards and they helped tremendously in making sure my i’s are dotted and my t’s crossed.
We also have a little boy who is freshly four. While Charlotte doesn’t recommend starting school until the age of six, he is eagerly asking for the opportunity to “do school”. I need to find the time in the day for more reading with mom (or older siblings) and time to play number games and learn letter sounds. He can take on a bit of household responsibility and needs to improve in some areas of behavior. I need to give him some dedicated attention and time.
In addition to our school time being scheduled well, I want to make sure we are making time for the chores that need to get done. While everyone pitches in as needed, I’d like to get a system of morning, afternoon, and meal time chores on paper so everyone knows what is expected ahead of time and can do the jobs more independently.
On the other hand, what has worked extremely well is merging history time frames across all students. Learning about the same period of history has meant that my younger student doesn’t feel like the timeline is already filled in before she gets to add items to the wall. It means that we can have conversations as a family about what it would be like to travel with Lewis and Clark or along the Oregon trail. We are making connections together and encouraging one another. It is a huge win for us!
Another item that is working really well for us is a weekly hike. We’ve been going on Fridays to our local nature center and hiking on the trails. Everyone benefits from being outdoors and I like going to the same location over and over to see the seasonal changes. We are beginning a new nature study club this term, so this will have to change to every other friday, but I want to make sure it stays in our schedule.
Next week, I’ll share a bit of our schedule and our book selections for the term. I always like to see what people are using in their homeschools and I think it would be fun to share what we’ll be up to this term.