Our first term of the school year ended last week. We plan to school year round, with a 8 week term. Most terms throughout the traditional school year won’t have much break between them, because ultimately we want to be able to take our breaks when it suits our family. Anyways, all that to say, the term is mainly for my own organizational purposes. Before we started school, I planned our first term and set our larger goals for the school year. However, I held off on the specific term lesson plans until 2 weeks before our new term starts.
The biggest reason for this is simply self-evaluation.
I did not want to put all my hours of planning into our terms and eventually realize that for whatever reason, “the plan” wasn’t working. This gave us an opportunity to get into the flow of our homeschool days and then critically evaluate them. More than just assessing the material we’ve actually been able to cover, I also check our family schedule. A lot can happen in two months! Obligations come and go, but by reevaluating every 8 weeks, I can be more mindful of how our days need to be structured.
Things I’ve Learned in 8 weeks
1. Keeping lessons brief and poignant is essential to holding and building the attention of a 5 year old. Charlotte Mason frequently talks about developing the habit of attention. The ability to remain focused on any subject for much longer than 20 minutes is not innate in a child and must be carefully developed.
2. The habit of attention is not developed over night. It’s far too easy for me to think that progress should be immediately apparent, when the truth of the matter is that it takes time to see fruit. We’re not looking for an instant fix anyways–we’re on a journey that will have many changes and last for many years.
3. Probably most important and most obvious of all (though somehow I’d missed it): My children’s interests will not necessarily be the same as mine. I am utterly fascinated by world history. We’re using Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, and I love it. Without even realizing it, I found myself expecting my kids to be enthralled as well. When they weren’t quite as obsessed as I was, it was quite a shock to my system. The truth of the matter is though, Sophia is not very interested in world history right now. She is mildly interested. We’ll give her that. But she is much more intrigued by her math and science work.
4. Different fascinations are not a bad thing. I’m finding myself so much more engaged by math and science than I ever was during my own “school years”. My goal isn’t to raise carbon copies of myself anyways, but to engage my children and help them learn how to learn.
5. Learning truly never stops. Once begun, once engaged, the world becomes a classroom, abounding with unanswered questions and untapped stores of knowledge. Charlotte Mason famously said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” In other words, education is not confined to a physical space where it happens, but it is encompassed in the attitude with which we greet the world. Do we plod through life’s routines, not daring to learn outside the classroom? Or do we greet each moment of the day as an opportunity to develop our understanding?
Things I’m changing in our second term:
For the most part, I’m really pleased with how our first term went. Our days weren’t overfull or empty, and we’ve made good academic progress. Overall, I’m not happy with how much we’re getting outside. I want to be getting out for nature walks at least once a week. But it just hasn’t been happening. I feel like the time we’re not spending in school is eaten up trying to catch up on housework. Ultimately, I don’t want to lose the joy of discovery in housework, so while the weather is still decent we’re going to try to be better at getting outside this term.