Looking Ahead: Our School in 2013-2014

Where does a mom’s mind travel to after her oldest graduates and, along with litle brother and sister, finishes her final dance recital?  Toward plans for the fall.   After all, as many “last moments” as we have all cried through in these last few weeks, we still have two kids here who need an education!

Our summer trips revolve primarily around getting our oldest to college, although there may be an opportunity to take one or more smaller trips on one or more of the kids’ behalf.   There’s also summer camp.  But eventually, I have some decisions to make about our fall dilemma.

What’s the problem?  Well, for several reasons, both of our younger children are between grades.   Though I am totally comfortable with explaining this within a homeschooling environment, when I am asked by someone else outside of that community what grades the kids are in, it just doesn’t go over so well.

Part of the between-grades scenario is due to where we stopped at the end of this year, although there are other reasons.   As a related digression, one bit of wisdom I heard–though I did not immediately accept–in the earlier days of homeschooling was that a parent cannot focus on every child every year; as I said, initially I thought it foul play that one kid might receive more attention at the expense of others.   I have come to realize, though, that this does not mean that any child is left unattended; it has more to do with setting goals and estabilishing priorities.   As my mother would say to me when she had to do something for my sister, “It’s not always your turn.”   Later in life I recognized that this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t get a turn; it just means my turn wasn’t right now.   This is the mentality I have chosen to adopt in our home.   Having said that, I will readily confess that this was our year to ensure that the oldest finished her senior year positioned as much as possible to step into higher education, so there are other items that took a back seat in educating the younger two, whether deservedly or not.  That season is over.   Time for a change.

The whole idea of fitting in betwen two grades is not as much of a big deal for our younger daughter, but our son will complete high school in 2 years–or maybe 3.   Our plan right now, of which he is well aware, is to allow him an additional  year at home to attend college courses, volunteer and/or work, etc. during that third year.   This would also allow our summer baby an additional year to mature into 18 years (if we sent him away in 2 years, he would be a very young 17) and get ready for the pace of college.   BUT, at that age, there are many additional factors that come into play; one of those is a combination of his feelings about moving on combined with public perception.   Let me share an example.

Yesterday was the annual dance recital.   The kids performed marvelously, but the overall mood was bittersweet for us.   This was our oldest’s last recital, and between the teacher’s tearing up while acknowledging her and the final video shots which featured her and wished her well, we were, at best, melancholy.  I could not help but think of our son in 2 years.   Will he consider himself a graduating senior?   Should we give everyone the elaborate answer about his grade and the gap year plan when asked?   Should we just start telling people now that he’s in 10th grade, and if so, how derailing will that be to his motivation and self-esteem (given that he thinks of himself as having completed this same grade)?   If he wants to dance at the same studio, how do we explain why he is still there?    What will the other dancers think?   Am I crazy to have spent so much time wondering through all of that? 

The scripture that continues to come to mind is to ‘occupy ’til I come’ (Luke 19:13); I have been given no other instructions, so I will worry about names, grades, tags, and what all of it means for us later.   The priority, as far as I am concerned, is to continue to challenge our son and to speak into him as a young African-American male about who he is and whose he is.    So, if the Lord says the same, our son will embark on a similar program as the oldest, entering college this fall under dual enrollment.   At 15, I am sure that his eye- and ear-gate will be exposed to something(s) new, but at least we can continue to minister as needed with him still under much protection from home.   He will become the newest Honors Program participant, taking an English/ Humanities course.   This in and of itself is interesting given that he’s just finishing the 8th grade Rod and Staff English text–part of that between grades thing again.   But his writing is such that I think he can prosper in this course, and besides, he often felft that Rod and Staff was ridiculously repetitive , and that he was ready for more.   Well, son, time to put money where your mouth is.

Outside of that one college course, we will continue with Geometry using Teaching Textbooks, and we will wrap up Biology using the text my MIL gave us.   We will continue our reading time together, wrapping up Medieval History and moving into early American classics.   We will continue Latin (I think), but I am also flirting with adding Spanish or French to his curriculum.   Spanish might be more beneficial to him long-term, but given his intentions to study dance even at the college level (as a minor), he might enjoy French more.   We will probably drop current events studies and apologetics as requirements, just as we did with the oldest.   I think that at this point the kids have a solid appreciation for global news and why it is important in their world.   I will stay with our commonplace book narrations as a complement to our historical reading.   In summary, his courseload would look like this:

  • Geometry: Teaching Textbooks
  • History/ Literature: Great Books Curriculum–Medieval History/ Reformation History (second semester)
  • World Geography: (I modified Globalmania’s curriculum)
  • Latin: Henle by Memoria Press
  • Science: Biology of Life from Glencoe Science / Chemistry (second semester–no idea what text yet)
  • Read-Aloud/ Reading List: (titles to be added over the summer)
    • Canterbury Tales
    • How the Irish Saved Civilization (excerpts)
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Michael Morpurgo
    • The Once and Future King by T. S. White
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream–No fear Shakespeare version

Our other summer baby, born in July, is somewhere between 4th and 5th grade, and she will be my focal point on next year.   5th grade should be a time to transition into far more independence than this busy bee is ready for; right now, her sole interest is in finishing quickly–right or wrong, school is in the way of the things that truly interest her.   And her spirit is so very different than our older two.   SO, I will take a step back and figure out how to adapt what I would normally do to her much more kinesthetic and generally active style.   In the meantime, one

decision I have made, especially with only two kids in the house as of August, is to fully utilize her planner.   I buy her one each year, but the planner winds up being more of a tool to help her feel as if she’s just like big sister and big brother; by the end of the first semester, it has dust upon it.   Having a completed listing of school assignments and a better idea of what she’s doing before I sit down to the table with her will keep us both in better working condition.   Right now, there are a number of assignments that have been skipped because Mom got busy, daughter got distracted, and by the time I got back to the table, she was unfocused and I was exhausted.   I can do better, and I believe with some discipline on my part, she will step into what is expected of her in terms of excellence.   We will spend the summer working on multiplication and long division, and then get back to the books in fall.   This would normally be the year that I add in a more formal logic study, but I think I will simply continue with Critical Thinking puzzles.   We will continue with a core curriculum that firmly establishes the basics for her.

  • Math: Horizons
  • Science: Apologia elementary series by Jeannie Fulbright
  • English: Rod and Staff
  • Latina Christina: Memoria Press
  • Current Events
  • History: American History (Blessed Heritage)/ Eastern Hemisphere (Sonlight)

The one thing I will do with her is add in composer studies as we once did with the older two, as well as art studies.   Not sure how I want to cover the latter as this has always been a source of angst for me.

Those are my preliminary thoughts.  I’m also trying to figure out how to keep family read-alouds going as the remaining family splits apart for classes (heavy sigh).   Pray for me, dear friends.

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7 thoughts on “Looking Ahead: Our School in 2013-2014

  1. Hello,
    Your thoughts on your children and their needs is wonderfully thought out. I totally get making one child a priority for a season. We have done that several times around here. Your plans look great and I know that you will find the best path for your family. I always enjoy my “visits” with you.
    Blessings, Dawn

    1. The same here, dear friend, and I am on my way THIS MORNING to gain from your creativity and highly kinesthetic environment. Don’t be surprised to see ideas “borrowed”!!

  2. Congratulations for” meeting and beating, expected and unexpected” challenges this school year.
    I called to wish “my little ones” congratulation. Of course I embarrassingly choked up, knowing #1 is leaving the nest.

    To God Be the glory,


    1. You are REALLY stepping into the new millenium!! LOL!!! I don’t know that I ‘beat’ anything, but I will agree with you and speak those things…with God’s help, we will continue to ‘beat’ some more things this year!!

    1. Nita, dual enrollment has been a lifesaver for us, allowing our oldest to basically skip a year in school. As we’ve become more savvy with the process, we are expecting our son’s testimony to be even greater. We have not, however, pursued CLEP testing. Honestly, the kids’ plates are heavy with homeschool, college, and their other activities, and I did not want to add CLEP preparation to all that they are already doing. It could certainly be an option that would make college, especially an out-of-state college where 4 years might be unrealistic, more affordable. Thanks for the ideas, and the visit!

I'd love to hear your two cents!!