Now that we are about ankle-deep into our homeschool year, I feel like I can breathe a bit easier, sleep a bit better and relax a (tiny!) bit more during our day-to-day. Things got serious this year as I realized we have a 6TH GRADER! How on earth did that happen?! I’m already thinking toward high school and beyond, but trying not to dwell too much on it as it’s many years away yet. But the reality check did me good for adjusting some of the ways we’ve been doing things in our homeschool.
3 Ways We’re Loving Learning
This year we’ve joined a local (and the only one in Ontario!) community of Classical Conversations (more on that in a later post). Over the years I’ve always felt like there was a piece missing from our daily school lessons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Having heard for years about CC from friends, I had been intrigued with the idea of classical education – but we didn’t live anywhere near a group, until we moved this past summer, and I was too overwhelmed to try to shift our focus from eclectic to a more classical approach on my own.
We are about 4 weeks in to CC and are LOVING it! Of course, it’s a big change for us to be amping up this much memory work, and we aren’t without our frustrations and overwhelm, but overall, I’m so grateful for this missing piece of the puzzle to tie together everything we are learning. I’ll be sharing more about what Classical schooling and CC is in a later post, but here’s a bit of a teaser in these pics ;0)
Weekly science experiments and art projects mom doesn’t have to organize! Woot!
On top of our weekly CC meetings, we’ve also joined a local Christian homeschool c0-op. We meet weekly for gym and a fun elective class, plus there are loads of field trips planned throughout the year. God graciously answered my prayers for friends through a couple of families already, with whom we’ve been connecting on a weekly basis to enjoy company and the outdoors together.
Speaking of the outdoors, we began our lessons in August again this year when it was too hot to be outside most of the time. Over the past few years I’ve gotten smart to the fact that by the second week of August, everyone has had enough of summer break! So we start early, and when the beautiful September days call our name, we don’t feel bad taking a morning off to be outside.
We’ve been meeting our friends weekly to explore new parks, trails and conservation areas, soaking up as much sunshine, fresh air and outdoor experiences as possible before the long, hard, cold winter hits us.
This is the first time I can remember in a long time the warm weather has lasted us right into October, but now, with our Thanksgiving upon us, the cold is in the air!
On the Topic of Letting Go
7 years into homeschooling and I’ve finally figured out how to let go of my comparisons. Oh, the urge and temptation sometimes still tries to rear it’s ugly head, but it doesn’t dominate my routine or thoughts any longer.
For one thing, since we have a 6th grader, he really needs more of my attention, help and encouragement on some subjects where the requirements are amping up and he’s feeling a bit lost.
That may mean Miss E (our toddler, almost 3 year old!) and Keekers (first grade) get some more free time to play. It also looks like some evenings we are still ironing out the kinks in our lessons because our day was too busy or we became too frustrated. And that’s ok! Our schedules, routines and focus will change, but I want him to know that he is important, and that he has a teacher he can come to when he’s having difficulty.
Another way I’m letting go is of my expectations to do a weekly Five In A Row type study with the girls. Yeahhhh, right! It never happened unless I was super stressed out and rushing them through the activities, making it completely an un-fun and negatively memorable experience for all (well, not every time, but a lot of the time!). So instead, I’m choosing two books, one every two weeks, and adding a few focused activities and work sheets to go along with them.
I think the practice that has had the biggest impact on how our mornings go is the practice of mom leaving her phone upstairs in the bedroom for the duration of morning lessons. I just found it was far too easy to pick it up absently while waiting for a question to be answered, or remembering to just quickly check this, that or the other. And one child in particular reacted quite negatively any time I was on my phone. So the phone stayed away, mama stayed focused, and everyone had better attitudes and more fun all around.
Though I’m loving homeschooling, I’m grateful for a break this weekend as we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada, and next week, I’ll be writing from NYC and the 2:1 Conference in North Carolina! I’m looking forward to this extended holiday and sharing with you what I learn there.