We are coming to a close of this school year. It’s true that we have six weeks still left “on the books” but there are many curricula we use that do not go through a full 36 week year. Math is finishing up, science is finishing up, and spelling and grammar are quickly coming to a close as well. We’ll get to the last few weeks of the year and only have read-alouds and Bible for the most part. I’ll use the next weeks for math review in order to keep the girls fresh, but I cannot say that they are sad to see the books finished!
I like this time of year because it gives me ample time to look over the year and address the girls weaknesses and strengths in light of what I have been providing for them to learn. I am given a chance to see where I can raise the standard and where I can lower my expectations for the year to come. Of course, being a visionary in my approach to the new year, I am already in the process of collecting new materials, entering information into my database, and setting up lesson plans. Because this process takes such a long time to complete (and I want to do it prayerfully and thoughtfully) I am thankful for the lighter load as books get put away for the next round of kiddos.
We will be taking a two week break between 2nd grade and 3rd grade, then we’ll be delving right into the new year. Previous years with three month summer breaks have taught me much – namely, that boredom creates myriad discipline problems, the girls actually like being productive as much as I like using our time wisely, three months is plenty of time to forget all phonics and math facts, and I want to have a good start on the year before this baby arrives (at which time I plan to take at least a three week break). This will be the first time we’re planning to implement the “full year cycle” of school. It will dissolve some of the intense pressure to get everything done in a certain number of weeks. We’ll be able to take full breaks for the festival days, field trips, and a day off whenever someone is sick or we just need to get our heads out of the books for a bit. I love the freedom that says we can hit it hard when we need to but still have enough days left in the year to relax and enjoy drawn-out science experiments or history lesson tangents. I’ve always felt a little time-crunched in the past by following the 36 week year. I’m not a very “tangenty” person anyway, but I would like the freedom to let the girls pursue some of their interests in the midst of so many subjects that require adherence to some kind of schedule of progression. Of course, we could do a three month summer break just pursuing fun stuff, but it seems to have a better emotional payoff for all of us if I intersperse the fun stuff with the serious lessons throughout the year. Nobody wants to go a full school year without opportunities to enjoy interests.
As I prayerfully prepare for the coming year, I have been overwhelmed at several moments in realizing the magnitude of giving my children a home education. Their entire academic futures depend entirely on me setting it all up for them. If I am not tuned into Holy Spirit to direct my paths, I am bound to drown in the responsibility. As it is, I already have a hard time trusting that He will show me when I’m going down the wrong path or when I need to direct more attention to character issues, or when I simply need to enjoy my children more. I am seeing clearly that I cannot be a homeschool mom without depending on Him. Self-effort will always be futile because there will always be something out there that I am not doing and should be doing, or a method that would work better, or endless projects, tools, and lessons that would make my job easier or more efficient. Anyone who has seen Pinterest knows that there is so much more to do than could be done in a lifetime. My job now becomes one of deciding which things are the most important. What will give me the highest return? Time is too precious to be wasted trying new things when I could just pray and seek the Lord about the appropriate timing of switching grammar curricula or adding in a new writing project or book. In this age of instant knowledge, am I willing to let go of more control instead of trying to grasp for more of it? This does not imply that research is not foundational in my preparations. Instead, I desire in this coming year to lay out my plans before Abba and then surrender to Him as He walks my little ones and I down the path He has prepared for us. He is the only One strong enough to carry me through this monumental task.