Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wrapping up this school year but not this year's education!

It is the end of a school year (assuming the 9 month-time-period of an educational "school year"), and I have been experiencing the typical "anxiety" that I generally get at this time of the year. You know...the time when friends and family begin asking you, "So when will you be finished with school?"

I never know how to answer these well-wishers, for my first instinct is to please them and say, "In two more weeks!" Then my second instinct is to use a quote from Charlotte Mason, "Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life." Then my third instinct (which is the one that I'll most likely respond to you, if you ask!) will be to tell you a combination of the first two instinctive answers. Or I could just say, "We've decided to school year-round!" (And the latter doesn't sound like too bad of an idea!)

At this time of year, I always have the moments/days/weeks of anxiety wondering, "Where one earth did the school year go? Have I done enough? Do they know enough? Did we use our time wisely? Am I pushing them too much? Am I not pushing them enough? Are they up to the state's standards (uh, yes!)? Are they up to my standards? Are they up to God's standards?"

Yes, at this time of year, I'm anxious for the school year to end; it's because I'm already excited about the beginning of the next school year! A fresh, new start! And (as soon as we order new books) the girls are as well! So the truthful answer is...we will still continue to read many books throughout the year and continue on with an informal, impromptu way! We'll be spending more time outside just playing; we'll continue our reading selections; we'll eliminate time spent in workbooks (which will have been completed!); and we'll be beginning our planning for the next "school" year! And you know that I'll take many new and improved methods along with me as we plan to begin the upcoming school year!

Speaking of next school year's "new and improved" momma-teacher, I have a new idea that has just hit me...some of the gals in my AO homeschool group have been discussing our "books of centuries." Some do them, and some do not. As for us...we each have a 3-ring notebook which we can keep entries of information on different people, places and things that we have learned from our rich history.

For those that do not know what a Book of Centuries is a personal book that one keeps their collection of important, historical facts from creation to the present. For example, one could have their youngest child draw/color a sheet on Benjamin Franklin while their oldest child writes an essay or narration on the details of Franklin's life. This method would continue all the way up unto the present...I love this, for this allows my girls (and me!) to make a connection with our history, and Lord-willingly the girls' books will last them a long life-time, and they will be able to look back at how their hand-writing and knowledge, etc. has grown throughout the years! As they grow older, they will of course learn new things about the life of Benjamin Franklin (for example), so they will have a constant place to store their gathered information! Of course, mine will not have my early-childhood handwriting in it, but I will be able to also see the timeline of history in relation to my's all very exciting to me...this is one reason why I love that I might learn/re-learn along with our children!

Anyway, here is my new idea that has just opened up a whole new world to me....we have our beautiful notebooks (four, if you include mine!) and have even ashamedly called them our Book(s) of Centuries...knowing that we haven't been doing much with them! (This is due to my perfectionist side taking over...if it can't be done perfectly, then lets not do/look at them at all!)

Well, my "new and improved" plan is to begin keeping a string hung to use as a hanging timeline where we can write down all of the important, historical facts that we learn onto 3x5 index cards which we can paper clip to the string...and then when time permits, we can go back and take them off of the string and insert the information (plus more for fluff!) into our Books of Centuries! Plus, when we revisit the information that we've put on our index cards, it will serve us as a memory refresher course! I'm so excited to implement this new idea!

So until we "wrap up" this school year and "begin" the next one, I'll just continue praying my way through the anxieties of "Have I done enough?" As for now, I think we have! Or at least, I'll rest assured as a Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler thinking, "Well, fiddle-dee-dee! Tomorrow is another day" to continue seeking sanctification!

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