Thursday, August 17, 2006

Busy Booking Our Fall Homeschooling Schedule

This week with a clear head and a well-feeling body I am able to think about homeschooling plans for the fall. My number one priority this week is making decisions about which paid classes, sports, and homeschooling co-op’s we will participate in.

I keep repeating to myself to keep it simple, keep it light. However, it is amazing how quickly the schedule is filling up. I am trying to keep my priorities in mind while making these commitments. The priority list includes socialization/play time with friends.

I am waiting to hear from the Audubon Center about what the age range for the homeschooling nature class will be this fall. I am unsure if this year it will include 6 year old’s or not. The class will definitely include 9 year old’s, so my older son will definitely be participating. This is the class that we take with our favorite teacher, which is 95% field based. The class explores various habitats and does hands on exploration and observation of nature. This Audubon Center is blessed with these habitats: hardwood forest, river, stream, vernal pool, lawn with gardens, and meadow. This will be our third year in this program.

A Chess Strategy class for homeschoolers which both of my children took last year might be re-offered again this year. The class is taught by a 14 year old homeschooled boy who is very good at chess. Last year it was held at a community center and was followed by an open play time for homeschoolers in this old school’s gymnasium and there are two classrooms filled with tables for playing board games or just sitting and talking. At this point I don’t have that booked into the schedule.

For the first time this year my older son will take an all day wilderness class at a 900 acre wilderness area. The program is directed by a man who was homeschooled all his life. This is a six hour long class and is on a weekday, and is designed for homeschoolers. I have coordinated with two other families who we are friends with. One of my main goals is just to have my older son have a full day of social time with these four other friends. I am waiting to hear if one other boy will join us; it would be great if he did. Due to the commute time of one hour each direction I have coordinated a carpool with one of the families. This will take up one entire day, we’ll probably have to leave at 7:30am and my son will arrive back home at about 4:30pm. There is a class for younger children that my younger son could take but it is on a different day, which would mean that our schedule for two days each week would be dictated by that class, and since we don’t know anyone there he is leery of being left alone for an all day class with strangers. I don’t think it is necessary for him. I have decided and after discussion he has agreed that the one day a week that my older son is in that class, I will have special ‘alone time’ with my younger son. This will be good for our relationship in general, I think, and it will give me time to also give him some individualized homeschooling lessons that are age-appropriate. Too often my younger son is tagged along on lessons for his older brother (by his choice).

As I have shared in the past, our family has changed Cub Scout Packs. I will be a Tiger Den Leader. My husband will be a Webelos I Den Leader. This week we are both making connections with our co-leaders, who we do not know. We have begun reading the handbooks for these ranks and we are both thinking about how we will organize the meetings and what we will work on each time. I am thrilled to be with a Pack that has a standing schedule of a once per week meeting, with all Dens meeting at the same time and place every single week.

A friend is organizing a First LEGO League team and has invited us to participate. I have been talking with different families since May about whether their children will participate and if so, on which league. This year LEGO is offering two levels, one for ages 6-9 and the other for children aged 9-14. The big debate is whether our 9 year old’s should go with a younger team this year or start off with the older team. Trying to find a team which is not too far a distance to drive as well as working with others that we get along with (and who our children get along with) is another challenge. I have not finished discussions about this yet.

Another homeschooling family has asked us if we will participate in a non-competitive LEGO activity, exploring the use of LEGO for educational or beginner robotics operations one or two evenings a month in their home, with the fathers running the sessions. I have spent time this week reading the LEGO Educator’s catalog, emailing and speaking to a LEGO representative to help me decipher this massive catalog and to find the best materials for our goals. Perhaps I’ll blog about my findings on another day.

I penciled in the weekly park day for homeschoolers which is less than a ten minute drive from our house. This park day has been an important source of socialization for my children as they are playing with 10-20 or more other children all at the same time. I do acknowledge the different and unique aspects of socializing in a group, with a group dynamic and being child-led, and this forum satisfies that. Last year went very well with the boys organizing detailed team games that included light sabre play. Girls are invited to play if they wish but some decline. I appreciate that time as well, as it allows me 2-4 hours of social time for me to talk with other mothers; not only are friendships made and sustained but homeschooling support and information is shared. With an average of 3 hours a week of this type of support, many of us don’t feel the need to attend a night adults-only homeschool support group meeting.

I am also trying to pick a new night to hold my Charlotte Mason Study Group meeting, it is a once a month night meeting for adults only. I am taking a poll of the attendees about which night is best; so far it is 50/50 between two nights. I’ve been sending and reading emails about that.

There are more things on the horizon (swimming lessons, pottery class, museum trips with other homeschoolers) but so far that is what I am seriously considering or have committed to. It is getting to the point now that I probably should cut it off and stop looking around. Each day new emails come in announcing new, tempting things to do but I think it is time to ‘close the books’ on finding new things to do.

Next up in the planning process is:

1. Making academic goals for both children for the school year.

2. Looking over the various book and curriculum I have and deciding what we will start the year off with and which things we will leave on the shelf.

In the middle of this I continue to log recently purchased used books into my book database in Excel (I’m at 5535 now). I continue to swap books on I continue to comb my shelves to find books to get rid of by various channels. I continue to sort my books and put them away, and to haul out of closets, books that we’ll use this year. I continue to declutter toys and other children’s items and to list them on Freecycle (a package sits at my front door as I write this, with someone expect to arrive momentarily).

So that is what I am doing this week.

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1 comment:

meredith said...

Christine, your Audobon and Field day classes sound wonderful, you have some nice choices to make!! Hope your year gets off to a great start!! Blessings.