Thoughtfully Planning For a New School Year

It’s that time, yes? Planning fever hits most of us homeschooling moms about now. Or, has it already hit most of you and I’m the slow poke? That’s quite possible. I helped coordinate our local Catholic homeschool moms retreat last month, and have just now sort of recovered.

Creating margin…I’m intentionally trying to do that this year.IMG_2076

Having kids that are medically fragile has a special blessing attached. I often have my margin laid out for me by their very conditions. History or breathing? Math or breathing? Those aren’t too hard to discern in the moment.  The problem is, I can get a little over zealous with my expectations for the upcoming year while they are healthy during the summer. I am still working at staying firmly planted in the day that I’m in, since that is where the GRACE is….instead of zooming ahead and loading our plans like a big fat baked potato with sour cream, (dairy free around here), cheese, butter, chives and bacon. While that sounds mighty good, sometimes we might be doing the simple potato with salt and that’s ok for a few days. I want to plan our curriculum with the full potato bar in mind, but also discern between what needs to be done and what would be NICE to get done. That’s hard, who wants to choose between bacon and sour cream??

I’m thoughtfully considering what is appropriate for our typical (always untypical) year.  Yes…planning is good and virtuous! Being prepared is virtuous! But being attached to those pretty plans? No…not virtuous. I’m hoping to craft plans based on OUR reality. As much as I LOVE Charlotte Mason and Classical Education, I can’t make idols of these things at the expense of our family peace.

So, yes, I’m planning for this coming homeschool year, but I’m not going to overload it like I so often do…and I bet even then, I have to pull a few things out or rearrange our curriculum, that is a given.

Last year at this time, as I planned and planned a different kind of year using some different resources, I didn’t expect to have a child in the ICU twice between November and January. It threw us into a free fall for a while, but we recovered.  This year, I’m not shying away from planning, don’t get me wrong, but I’m doing it prayerfully, I’m asking Our Lord, “What is it that you want me to do with these beautiful children You’ve entrusted to me?” And I’m keeping in mind that even my KIDS need margin in their days, sick or not! This is one reason why we don’t do a lot of organized outside things like coops or outside supplemental classes. We need to be home to HOMEschool, and for our family, that means not a lot of other “things” that take us outside of home. Those things are great, but not necessary. We spend a fair amount of time dealing with medical issues. We really don’t have a lot more time to be driving to classes when we need to get work done here.

One thing I feel I’ve been led to do is use Ambleside Online as one of my main resources. With the very wise counsel of my friend, Jen Mackintosh, I am choosing smaller amounts that we can do WELL. There is a very large selection of books to use at AO, but my goodness, there’s no way anyone could complete it ALL! See, that’s a real temptation amongst us, isn’t it? Cram and cram a bunch of stuff into our plans in the name of anxiety and comparison…only to fall flat on our face when our particular situation just didn’t call for all of that crazy.

So what to do when it all starts…to…slide…down…hill…

I’m having a basic outline for our year, and I’m also having a “Oh, here we go!” list. So, while I expect the kids to work diligently, there will be times when things go off rail and there are three kids with serious illnesses, or someone is having surgery, or recovering in the hospital or home.  I might term this “Low Gear” time.  (Did any of you grow up driving a stick shift? Does anyone know what those are anymore??)

When I get the “Low Gear” plan together, I will share more of this with you.  I’m looking into some documentaries we can pick up during “Low Gear.” We tend to do things like that anyway, but to actually have a “grab bag” if you will, of “other” things to do when the typical day is overwhelming, probably isn’t a bad idea.

This seems to be especially important in children with chronic medical issues. There are just going to be weeks when they can’t do all of their assigned work. BUT…I don’t want it to be a video game free for all either. (THAT’s never happened, ahem) This is when we could pull out some short stories, some speeches that are straightforward and not difficult to read, or maybe work on just reading some great literature, saint stories or poetry read aloud as a family and calling it good.

And honestly, there will be days when even that doesn’t get done, because people are working on breathing…or healing…or coping. And that’s ok, too. There’s a lot to be learned in diligence, surrender, patience, and fortitude with chronic illnesses.

I hope to come back soon and share more of my specific plans for our 3rd, 9th and 11th graders.  What are your struggles as you plan? What do you really like to use as your planning platform? Are you a paper and pen kind of girl or totally on your google calendar for everything or a combination of both?

Thanks for stopping by to visit!

IMG_2065
Yes, dancing on picnic tables is sorta ok when there’s a birthday involved, yes?

3 thoughts on “Thoughtfully Planning For a New School Year

  1. This was great! I’m the one with the chronic health issues (versus my kids) but the daughter I’m homeschooling has learning disabilities and we have father in law with Alzheimer’s living with us as well as 4 other children. These principles you’ve listed are good for ME to keep in mind in my situation! This year, my goal with AO, is to transition my daughter to more independence and doing her work well. So I cut till there’s peace! But at least I have AO to provide a spine to our studies. So grateful for that. I went to the LER retreat and it was also wonderful. Such a treasure trove of inspiration to feed my own soul and bless our homeschool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Betty, I am on LER’s FB page and was looking at it as it went along….it sounded absolutely lovely and very similar to the retreat in IN. Yes…you are so right, when life is “different” with chronic illnesses,school will be different. You are a wise woman to know this!!I just commented somewhere else that as much as I absolutely LOVE all of CM’s principles, I suspect in the end if she were talking to us directly, especially those with very unique circumstances, her primary principle would be “First things first.” For my family…that is often keeping kids breathing. 😉
      Thanks for visiting, Betty!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s