School started around here four Mondays ago. We had a perfectly blissful first week. I kept our calendar clear, just five days at home, children cheerfully waking, doing chores and school work. I was incredibly inspired as we wrapped up week 1.
Real life came crashing into our lives during week 2. Twice I had to leave the house for doctor appointments during the week, both for me, both once a year appointments with specialists, which I have learned the hard way not to try and reschedule (since that usually involves another four or five month wait for the next available appointment). Our schedule disrupted, attitudes were off, my expectations were misaligned because of our glorious previous week... no one was sad to see the days for that week crossed off the calendar.
Week 3 found us playing a little catch up from week 2. Attitudes were a little better. Kids were moving slower than I planned for in every area, especially chores and eating! By mid-week, things were looking up, we were doing well completing lessons, and then Caleb nearly broke his finger. (I can say nearly now because I know he didn't, but before the X-rays I was pretty sure he had, as his pinky was crazy tender, swollen, turning black.) Of course, to be sure, a doctor appointment had to be made, X-rays were required on the other side of town, and I came home to find the rest of the kids had either not done their work or had been so chatty they hadn't paid attention to it. Friday's lesson plans were dropped and we spent the day redoing Thursday's work.
The good news is that we have persevered despite the lack of "perfect" days. That might not sound like a big deal to you, but it is HUGE improvement for me. In years past, I would have already thrown my hands up in the air, and been wishing for a few days to catch my breath. But, instead, I am looking at my own heart and seeing God working on my attitude, correcting my unrealistic expectations, tearing down my fear of man (in how we look and what we should be doing, how much progress we've made), cultivating patience and love for my children.
I am also looking at how I planned things. In a perfect world, we would do school five days a week and be finished each day by 1pm. But, things haven't been going perfectly (outside of week 1) and I am seeing some adjustments that need to be made. I am going back to planning a four day week to do five days worth of lessons. Day 5 will be for playing catch-up or trips to museums and parks. Homeschool bribery at its finest, "Finish school by Thursday and Friday will be zoo/museum/park day!" This will also benefit us when the days come sporadically for symphony concerts or plays, rarely on Fridays, which will force us into a four-day week for lessons anyhow.
Another big change for me is that for lesson plans this year, I have left all the computer-based planning charts behind. (Gasp!) I am handwriting plans each week, spreading out what we have to do on our curriculum into bite sized pieces. I am writing in pencil, and I keep track of how we are doing by checking stuff off. (Why does checking off boxes always feel so good?!?!) I am also keeping a list of every book we finish this year... All of a Kind Family was the first to be marked down, many others to come, and each completed book is like a cheerleader in the crowd for a homeschool momma's heart.
New routines are in place too, and the kids have really embraced them. Family devotions are done before breakfast, and the kids are the ones who get out everything we need so I have no excuse to skip it. We are listening to the Proverb of the date during breakfast, and I read a YWAM missionary story while they clean up breakfast. We listen to a few Pslams during lunch, then turn on a Lamplighter Theatre drama for 15 minutes. I read our literature book while lunch chores are completed. Those few things have been helpful anchors in our day, opportunities to regroup and restart if the previous block of time had been a particular struggle.
We are also keeping two days each week completely free of commitments. This is new for me. I love being able to just jump up and run out to do this or that. But it has proven to be a disruptive freedom, so I am striving to exercise self-control to stay home, as well as, learn to say "no" to too many extras. There will be exceptions, like this week where we have planned a day trip to visit friends on one of our "no commitment days", but it was the only day that worked and it's been two years too long since we have seen them.
So, here goes everything... 2014-2015 has begun! How has your school year started?