Friday, September 19, 2014

Simplifying Our Schedule

I realize I've been neglecting my little blog recently. I was in the hospital for three days last week following a pretty serious MS flare up. I'm doing better now, and other than being really tired from the infusion treatments, I'm feeling pretty well. The one good thing to come out of that mess was that I had 3 days to stare at the ceiling and think. I couldn't read because my eyesight was blurry, and for someone who hates cable there's not much else to do but think. And being the boring homeschool mom I am, most of my thinking was school related. So here's what the hospital drop ceiling tiles revealed to me.--- I Need to Simplify Our School Day. We Are Doing Too Much.
Bess, at 7, is really smart and is the "perfect" student. Other than occasional grumbling about math, she will sit at a desk as long as I ask her to and do her work, and work hard at it, and then follow up by reading history and science books for fun. But now I think, I've been piling too much on. Just because she can do it, doesn't mean she should. She learns so much on her own from reading and her own projects, there's really no reason to schedule so many "extras".
So here are the rules I've outlined for myself for this year.

Trust in the Program
BookShark is a solid program. There's no reason to supplement so much. Bess as a second grader has learned more history and geography than I learned in any one year of public school. Plus she loves the curriculum, so she retains most of what she's learned. What we read for fun is supplement enough.

Trust in Bess' Choices
Bess is doing enough "extra" on her own already. She is constantly throwing down bits of knowledge she's gained. Recently a discussion by our older two about the Thor movies led to Bess leading a family talk about Norse gods. This is par for the course with Bess and it's almost always from books she's chosen herself. Sometimes it's inspired from initial BookShark readings. She chooses enough good non-fiction to balance her fiction selections. She is a capable selector of books. I need to remember that.

Just Because Bess is Capable of More Doesn't Mean She Needs More
I don't ever want to destroy Bess' love of learning. I think if I keep her on the path I'd initially set for the year, I just might do that. We don't need to formalize art. We enjoy making art and reading art books often. That's enough for now. Learning Korean was probably more a whim than an actual desire on her part. So that's on the chopping block too. Grammar can wait until next year. Latin also. Supplementing geography is completely unnecessary. BookShark has more than enough built in. Piano lessons are gone. She hated them. Learning to code, that's finished(what was I thinking?).
We won't ever be unschoolers. It's not our learning style. But we learn enough from spontaneous projects, outings, and reading that we are educating ourselves enough to have much of our learning feel child-led. I need to trust that.

Keep Extracurricular Activities to a Minimum
It's been a difficult year, and I need a rest. I don't want to be constantly going from one activity to another. We're limiting Bess to 4 extracurricular activities per week (2 are on the same day at the same location). Ballet, Science and Storytime at the library, and Brownies will be it. Max is easy. He doesn't enjoy any organized activities at this point.

Max Will Have Only Two Subjects This Year
Reading and Math and playing are more than enough for Max. He needs down time and I don't want to frustrate him. We recently had him tested and his IQ results led me to believe he was capable of so much more. I suddenly felt compelled to have my startlingly smart boy on the fast track to genius-ville. However, Max needs less, not more. He needs time to be a kid, relax, and work on dealing with the world. So for the time being, I'm buying building games and puzzles, and every Lego we can afford. He's happy. That's enough for now.

This is what I'm cutting from my plans---Evan Moore 6-trait Writing, Critical Thinking Company's Editor-in-Chief, Evan Moore Daily Geography Practice, Zaner-Bloser Spelling, Typing Instructor for Kids, Khan Academy, piano lessons, all formal art instruction, all foreign language instruction, handwriting for Max, formal science instruction for Max. 
It feels freeing just to list everything we're not doing this year.

As a reminder to myself for the future.....I've made out a five year plan for Bess. I fully expect the plan to change over the years, but this will remind me to keep things simple. Max has a one year plan at this point, as he's kind of the wild card. Time will only reveal how we'll educate Max to fit his style of learning. I'd need a crystal ball and flux capacitor to figure out Max's future educational arc.

Why five years? Because that's how many boxes I had on my graph. Seriously. I'm too lazy to make another graph. I've been shoving my plans onto this same graph outline for years!

So that's my epiphany. If you also need an awakening, whether spiritual or educational(and in graph form!), may I recommend hospital ceiling tiles. Their wisdom is endless. At least that's what they told me when I was hopped up on pain killers.

Until Next Time!

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