Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Homeschool Schedule

I am super excited!!!  I have been playing around with our schedule and I have come up with a new idea!!!

Each year our schedule gets tweaked a bit to account for the needs of our family, the curriculum we are using, the outside classes that we have signed up.  Basically, each year brings a little bit of change.  In the past I would layout what I wanted to get done in an average day and then assign each item a time slot.  But this last year, I really wanted to break free from the constraints that come with that kind of schedule.  I really felt like I was setting myself up for failure each day.  If we started late - my schedule was blown.  If we had an interruption in the day - my schedule was blown.  Plus, I always felt like we were in "rush, rush" mode, and yet school seemed to take up more of the day than I had allotted for.  But I just couldn't figure out how to stop using time slots.  I mean, I had to be able to calculate if everything would fit, right? 

So here it is summer, and I am working on my plans for next year.  Hmmm....what to do with our schedule?  How can I improve it? 

I looked at a few other schedules - the one in My father's World curriculum, a few online.  And then I got the idea!  What if I assign approx. time spans to my tasks, but not actual times.  For instance, planning for Bible time to take 30 minutes, instead of saying it should take place from 9:00-9:30.  So I went through our tasks and assigned them all time spans.  I tried to give plenty of cushion to the areas that tend to set us behind, and also to provide a cushion for those interruption you know are going to happen.  And for simplicity's sake, I assigned everything to be either 30 minutes or 60 minutes.  But this is just a reference, some may take longer and others less time. 

I also chose to break up our day a little more than I had it this past year.  I want to try a group subject, then and individual subject, back to a group, and so on.  I think this will offer us more variety to keep us moving throughout the day.  This past year, I had all our group subjects together in one hour-and-a-half to two-hour time slot.  That's a lot in one setting.

One thing I am keeping from this past year is how I divided up myself to work with my children one-on-one.  I basically created 3 time slots: 1. working with me, 2. working independently, and 3. working on the computer (this one was intended mostly for our math curriculum).  So I have one child working with me, while the other 2 were either on the computer or working independently.  And we would cycle through.  I call these my Core Combos, because they are the core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

*Please note: by my use of the word "core", I in no way mean anything pertaining to Common Core - I am only referring to the core subjects for each child - meaning those subjects that are really needed as basic knowledge upon which all other subjects lean. 

So, enough gab!  Here is what I came up with for next school year's schedule.  I can't wait to try it out!  I loved that as I was explaining it to my kiddos, they all seemed to "get" the idea that the earlier we start, the earlier we are done.  And the later we start, the later we are done.  I decided to call it my Daily Design, instead of  my schedule, since it's not time specific, rather more of guide to follow through our days.

I'm all in favor of having learning take place throughout the day.  And for the most part, my kiddos are curious enough to stop what they are doing to investigate something or to learn something new.  And we love books all through the day.  But it's also nice to know that your responsibilities for the day are done, and you're free to pursue your own interests.  Following this plan, will allow me to rest assured that we are moving forward with learning while balancing time for other fun activities.
I'd love to hear how you plan your homeschooling days! 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Where Have I Been?

Life.....I'm sure you can relate. 
There are just sometimes when life takes over.  Here's my story.....

At the time of my departure, I had really been toiling with how God wanted me to use my blog - there are so many homeschool blogs out there.  Does the world really need one more?  Is God really calling me to do this?  What direction should I be taking my blog?  Should I write from my heart or only share fun ideas and practical help?  Am I just adding one more task to my day?  Am I doing this for me or Him? 
All questions and no answers. 
So in a leap of faith - I LET GO! 

I really thought it would just be a brief departure.  I time of prayer and reflection.  I thought I would return to my blog and spruce it up with my rejuvenated spirit.  I thought the first of the year would be a perfect restarting point with new goals and a new vision for my blog. 

But the first of THAT year came and went.  And I still didn't know what direction I was going in.  I just simply felt overloaded. 

And then life happened.

Let me take you back to March of 2014.....
My dad was in a car accident that broke his neck.  He was 86 years old at the time.  I still remember all the details of the moment when I got the phone call on a Monday afternoon.  My two oldest kids were at their drama class and I had been shopping with my 2 youngest.  My phone rang as I was walking out of the store, but laden with baby, diaper bag, shopping bag and a little boy holding my other hand - the phone would have to wait.  Upon reaching our van and loading everyone in, I had a leaking diaper to change.  I finally settled us in the van to nurse my baby, when I checked my phone.  It was my sister.  I knew from her voice that something happened.

DADDY?!  (Yes, he will always be "daddy" to me, no other name fits). 
What are we going to do?  Mom needs him to care for her!  What are we going to do? 
Prayer, LOTS of prayer. 
Two surgeries  (it was a jump break and the spinal column wasn't aligned) and 5 days later my dad WALKED out of the hospital.  He was truly a miracle!  The surgeon had never seen a break like this that didn't result in paralysis or even death. 
But 2 days later we would find ourselves BACK in the hospital.
This time for my youngest child....

She had been going down hill over the past few weeks, especially this last week with my dad in the hospital. I thought maybe it was a virus.  I really didn't know what to think.  She was just so groggy.  Sleeping a lot, wanting to be held, nursing more.  And what's up with all these wet diapers?!  She was soaking through diapers every 2 hours. Remember that leaking diaper on the day of my dad's accident?  Well, that was a common occurrence all that week.  I thought about taking her to the doctor, I just didn't think they would have any answers, it was probably just a virus.  She didn't feel good and wanted her mommy - that was understandable.  But when she didn't want to stand up anymore and only wanted to be held, I really wanted to have her checked out by a doctor.  With it being Friday evening, I determined that I would call Monday morning and take her in.  Well, I only made it to Sunday morning before I started getting more panicky about her.  Hubby and the kids went to church.  Little one and I stayed home in our jammies. Well, I was in jammies, she was in a diaper and a shirt, because she had wet through 3 pjs that night.  I had been up most of the night - she just wanted to be held and drink her sippy cup or nurse all night.  As we rocked in my favorite rocker, I noticed her breath smelled sweet. 

It was like God just connected the wires in my head!  I quickly checked the internet for symptoms of diabetes.  And sure enough she had most of them- frequent urination, constant thirst, tiredness, sweet smelling breath.  But nooo, she's only 18 months old.  I know kids can get diabetes, but not THIS young, right?  I called the on-call nurse and she listened as I rattled off everything, but when I finished, she said I was to take her directly to the ER.  So my dad left the hospital on Friday and here we were again on Sunday. 

God was with us, that seemed evident the whole way.  We were ushered right in - I imagine a ragdoll of a baby and 2 worried parents may have prompted the triage nurse to step out and watch and wait as we were getting registered.  We were immediately led into triage, 2 nurses assessed our baby and before I knew it we were in a room.  I don't think I had ever been in the ER when there wasn't at least a little bit of waiting - not this time.  Everything was happening so fast!  Two doctors and two nurses scrambled around us.  A quick poke of one of her little toes and the meter read 500+. What does THAT mean?!  (Oh, I was about to learn.  I was about to be come an expert in a subject area I had previously not had much interest at all.).  But really, this has to be something else.  She's too little!  What did I do wrong?  God was there.  A very dear friend of ours is a pediatric nurse in the PICU and she happened to be working that day.  She came to our ER room right away.  And I'll never forget, in the hubbub of everything she stopped, looked at me and said, "this is nothing you have done to Natalie, her pancreas just stopped working".  Those words were so encouraging in the midst of all the chaos in my mind.
Well, jump forward a week and you'll find us at home, my mind still swirling as we try to manage all the info thrown at us, all the pokes and shots, and adjust to our new life.  I would love to share more about her story another time, but she is doing well and we are learning, trusting God, and adjusting well (with His help) to her daily needs. 

Then, in November we lost my bother to an illness. 
Followed in December by the passing of my mom from pancreatic cancer. 
It has been more than a year of fear, pain, grief
But God is good

He has walked with us through every bit of this.  He has made Himself visible to us in the midst of it all.  Often, when we look back on a situation, we can realize how God worked through it.  But I really felt I could see Him working right in the moment.  It was such a comfort to me in my most difficult moments to feel His presence.   God is good.  And we are continuing on.  I still don't have any answers to the questions that originally led me to take a break from blogging.  But I just felt led to share our story.  And I'll take it one day at a time from here.