Picking up where I left off, I think the gap filler between where I am with the youngest and where I want to be is a planner. Lisa(?) Hobar of Mystery of History once described the inverse relationship between time spent with your child and the amount of planning needed. If you imagine an X with ending arrows pointing in opposite directions, planning would be on one axis, and one-on-one time with your child is on the other. In other words, the more time you spend with your child, the less you need to plan. I am almost constantly with our youngest, so I keep my “schedule” in my head. I’m sure you’re there already, but yes, it makes it real easy to fall off track. I always justify it by thinking, well, she’s not headed to college on tomorrow, which is true, but it doesn’t help my frustration when we get off track. So, during the holidays, I’m going to work to get myself more on a real schedule, with everything in my head written down. I have to admit that it’s funny to be so relaxed with her education; when my older two were her age, I would plan out the entire school year (before I learned better–smile).
Our son continues to perform well, but I pray continuously over heart issues. Being wildly successful can be as problematic as being a constant failure. So, we’ve had to work on not procrastinating just because you know that you can finish quickly, not gloating when you finish early, and not complaining or shying away when work becomes challenging. Truth be told, those are lessons many adults have yet to learn.
He is at the season where we can begin to focus in more on his interests, and, at least for right now, one of his interests seems to be in the area of history and law. I had the bright idea of enrolling him on a junior debate team at a local homeschool partnership. Then I recalled another parent’s recollection about debate and the research that is required to do it well—the work for debate took up enough time and energy until she allowed it to replace her daughter’s history and English studies. Then I thought about the weekly travel for class. Is this a necessary part of our journey, or a disruption to an otherwise effective curriculum plan?
The oldest, for a variety of reasons, is almost always the last one finished with school. At this point, I think she accepts it as ‘just the way it is.’ When her brother finishes before her, she stops to double-check that he really is through. In the motherly tone that only an oldest daughter can deliver, she completes a mental checklist:
“Okay. You’re done with Pre-Algebra?” Check.
“You finished your science?” Check.
“You finished your grammar?” Check.
“You read to Mom? Did she read to you?” Check.
Her year is going well, and I believe the days off—whether with field trips or the recent addition of our “reading days”—are paying huge benefits in terms of giving her a space to relax and regroup in the midst of a difficult school year. She has always had to work harder in math, and I didn’t realize until I watched her persevere how much math is a part of chemistry. Chemistry was my favorite subject in high school—it’s why I majored in chemical engineering. Our daughter had a slow start with chemistry, but thankfully she has picked up. I know that we will not finish the text in one school year, so my thoughts right now are to take 1-1/2 years to complete it, then fill the last semester with one of her favorite sciences, meteorology.
I have to think much more strategically rather than tactically with her, and I’m also making a point of documenting my work as our son is not far behind her. She will begin a new season in her education on next school year—college. Many Texas homeschoolers take advantage of the dual degree programs available through our community college system, and I aim to be no exception. With college costs rising higher than the rate of inflation, getting an inexpensive head start will benefit us all. Yet, the questions of what to take, how to position her to succeed and not fail, is she really ready, am I really ready, and so on, weigh heavily on my mind. It all requires so much prayer, and then quite of bit of shoe leather and patience—patience with administrators, patience with processes, and patience with yourself. Getting back to the sciences, physics is out there waiting as well, but I’m not sure if we want to do that here, or let her take the physics for non-math majors as a college options. Decisions, decisions. I’m so glad the holidays, with the associated break, are approaching; there’ll be more time to fast, to pray, and to get organized.