It has become apparent to me that to be successful trying to homeschool Paul around my full-time job, I need to plan ahead.
I have a boxed curriculum and a parent guide, but those things only get me so far. Even when I was a full-time mom and homeschooling Elizabeth, I would write down what the next day’s goals were. They were never meant to be set in stone but rather a guide to help us get where we were headed. This time around, I am finding it is imperative that I pre-plan.
There are some activities in the curriculum that just wouldn’t be possible to fit into the few hours I have before or after work, depending on the day, so it is helpful to plan ahead so these long activities are set aside for a weekend. Even so, I find that I need to kind of meditate during the day on what we are going to do so that I am mentally prepared to tackle it when we get home. I find the whole thing is a little like making dinner after work: even though I went shopping and got all I need, if I don’t have a specific menu planned for such and such a day, I get home in the evenings and just can’t get myself together enough to look into making real food. On these days, we usually end up eating pizza or something that I perceive to be quick and easy. But if I have a recipe that I have told myself I will make on Monday because it won’t take too long and I need to use the ingredients up before they spoil, then when I get home Monday, I can actually do it. It’s much the same with homeschooling. If I write down what my goals are for the next two days, then when we are deciding that yes, we are going to do it, I can look at my planner and know which activities I have time for and which ones I will need to get materials out for. If I pre-plan, then I am mentally prepared. If I don’t I just can’t pull it together and school gets forgotten while the kids set to playing and I do other things that need to be done. Pre-planning makes it easier to get to, and ironically, nearly every time that we do school, I almost always say to myself, ‘Oh, that didn’t take very long. Why can’t I fit this in more often?’
I want to fit it in more often because it is fun and I really do enjoy watching Paul as he learns – just as I loved to do with Elizabeth too. Today we counted out pennies and it was amusing because he so enjoyed it, but also because he’s so different from his sister who was really not very interested in math at 4 years old. I didn’t pre-plan for today’s activity, but had a whole weekend day to remind myself that we need to get it. Realizing how essential it will be if we want to be successful, I took 2 minutes (if even that!) to jot down what I want us to do on Monday and Wednesday. Anything we don’t do can carry over, but I will be prepared nonetheless.
Aside from my essential need to get organized, I used a precious day of PTO this week (generally saved for sick time for the 3 of us) and took Monday off so we could enjoy the solar eclipse together. On Sunday, we also went up to Lake Ontario to spend the day at the beach at Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area where I worked at as a Dune Steward one summer while I was in college. I had planned to camp there, but turns out you can’t camp anymore (if you ever were allowed to?), so we camped in the front yard Friday night. My head and heart loved it, but my back really, really didn’t. (I need Zumba again!!!!) Even though the drive was long, we all really enjoyed the lake with the crashing waves and the fun beach stones. There were even sandy spots below the dunes. We got a good look at poison ivy too as there was tons of it, just as I remember.
Monday for the eclipse, I had gotten glasses and a workbook well ahead of time. We spent 2 hours down by where Chepe used to have his garden, playing card games and filling out the workbook on the picnic table. Watching the kids watch the eclipse with their glasses was a very memorable event for me, it is something I will remember for a long, long time. It’s good to have a new – good – memory tied to that spot too.
Share your thoughts: How do you stay organized and on track with your homeschool? Also, what fun things have you done this summer? Did you enjoy the eclipse as well? Tell me about it.