Thursday, September 6, 2012

Year 3 We Are Ready!

We are back to work after taking a month off from our lessons.  We needed the break to refocus our minds and gather our energy, and reconnect with our passions.  We needed time to play in the sand and visit with friends.  We needed to miss our routine just a bit so that when it was time to return to it we would openly embrace it.

Year 3.  This is year 3 of our journey.  Our schedule is set.  Our plan is made.  We are structured yet flexible.  We each know where we want to go and have an understanding of what it will take to get us there.  In order to make their dreams realities, I have had to become a bit more scheduled myself.  I cannot bring myself to use a teacher’s planner, for that reminds me too much of year 1, when I tried to "school at home", but I did take out a notebook, divide the page in half and write down my expectations for the day for each child.  This year the work load increases, especially for Grace who is entering 7th grade.  To move us along, while feeling accountable, I need a bit more record keeping in our daily life but I know myself well enough to know that anything rigid will not work.  I have to be able to view my day in a glance, know what I would like them to work through and know that if something does not get done because of a learning opportunity, we can simply move it to the next day.

One thing I have struggled with is how to make the girls accountable for their own work.  We don’t grade, so I can’t threaten to lower their score if they hand in work late.  I do want them to learn to work on a deadline.  Not for everything.  But for some things.  Life has deadlines.  Bills must be paid on time.  Certain jobs demand deadlines.  Greg’s job for instance, requires that reports are due on time, not a day late, and certainly not when he feels like getting around to it.  Even in the running of our household, there are deadlines.  I know when dog food has to be purchased or our dogs will go without.  There are cars to be maintained on a schedule.  Something as simple as our pool has a mandatory maintenance schedule if the water is to remain safe for swimming.  I want my girls to recognize that they too are accountable for certain things at certain times.
This summer we have cut way back on television viewing and iPad playing.  We use our technology for learning and creating.  
Using the iPad to blog or work on a multiplication game - fine.  Using it to play Minecraft....not so fine.                       Watching mindless tv like the Disney Channel....nope!   Watching the cartoon version of Macbeth...okay!  
My girls are used to being mostly tv-free all week.  This is a natural reward for work well done.  Come Friday night, if all their work is done, the weekend is theirs to do with what they want.  That is the time for bits of mindless tv and Minecraft.  Of course, I try to keep us busy with much better options than those, but even I like my Big Bang Theory from time to time.  I understand and value their need to chillax once in a while.  
We also have other motivators built into our day.  I have used our large wall calendar and blocked off our home-based lesson plans in highlighter.  Tuesdays we will be out of the house all day at Huckleberry Hill Project.  Wednesdays we will be out with history in the morning and piano in the afternoon.  Friday is DI day for both girls.  These are not highlighted because it is a given that those are academic activities.  To keep their social calendar full, time for visiting friends is built in after lessons are complete.  Lessons must be complete before we have that time to play.  To me that seems natural.

Because I have always been flexible, this does not mean that every single thing on their list has to be complete.  If they are studying math and suddenly want to research a mathematical theory, this will always be allowed.  Everything else will be shifted accordingly.  Just like in our professional lives, schedules are constantly changing and flexing to meet and adjust to changing needs.  So many times Greg has been prepared for a meeting only to find that it has been moved so that updated, more accurate data can be presented.  I will work with my girls each day to help them move through their lessons with fluidity yet firmness.  
I hope to accomplish much this fall.  My plan is that September through November will be a period of intense learning so that the month of December can be taken off in celebration of the holidays.   Our week is full.  Our week is balanced.  I have those butterflies of anticipation.  I am ready.  We are ready.

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