Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer doesn't just happen by accident

At least not a fun summer, in a busy and somewhat large family.

Our homeschool year is over, and we won't be starting again until the last of week of August or the first week in September.

This last school year has been - awesome! I now have 9 whole years of homeschooling experience under my belt, and I must say, each year keeps getting a little better, and a little smoother. So if you are new to homeschooling - take heart! Just like anything else, time is the best teacher, and you will find the journey more enjoyable with each passing year. (That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable in the early years - it was. It's just even better now.)

About a month before our school year drew to a close, I suddenly came to the realization that it had been several weeks since Solomon, now 11, had asked me for any help with his work. He just finished 7th grade in most subjects, 8th in some, and 9th grade in Math. For that last one, he used Saxon Algebra I, which by all standards is a very demanding curriculum. Yet, not even once, had he asked me for help in weeks, not even in figuring out how far he should be along in each subject at the end of each week (he simply checked my lesson plan for that). Even before that, for most of the school year, he had worked independently. Only at the very beginning of the school year, way back last fall when he was 10, did he need me to go over the day's assignments with him each morning. 

Somewhere along the road this year, my baby grew up. He is where we had hoped to guide him - on the road to lifelong, independent learning, as my years of labor in teaching him is now bearing fruit. Yes, it's exciting, but oh, it is also incredibly sad. I am so proud of Solomon, but a part of me is hurting from the continual severance that must take place as children grow into adults. When I talked to him about it, he was - naturally - thrilled. As was his Dad.

Being reminded yet again how fleeting this time is makes me ever more grateful for the little ones coming up in the ranks behind their older siblings. So yes, we are looking forward to starting again in the fall.

In the meantime, having a good summer requires planning if we are to make it enjoyable. Just the logistics of getting 7 kids out the door, on time ***laughs hysterically***, dressed, fed, clean, and with water and snacks that can withstand the extreme daytime temps is a task. Let alone coming home to something warm and nourishing for lunch or dinner, keeping up with the animal chores, laundry, dishes, and errands - whew! Remember, my goal is to feel refreshed, not ragged at the end of it all.

Which is where a cheapo little 10 cent paper binder comes in handy. In it, we hold the kids' reading program records, blank calendars for the next three months, notebook paper for ideas, and printouts of any fun events going on, as well as our own goals for this summer. Left on the kitchen counter, or in my purse, this lightweight binder is constantly by our side.

Each day's to-do list is on a sticky note on the front.

 Older kids' reading program on the left, blank calendar pages on the right

 More of the inside of the binder

Yes, riding public transit is considered an adventure around here. And no, it's not one I am willing to spend money on, seeing how they raised sales taxes just to pay for the crazy light rail that nobody wanted. 

Would you like to see the complete list? You will have to check back for a separate post on that :)

Naptime, the holy grail of parenting sanity, is the time for Miriam and older to be working on the above (minus the piano, obviously). Summertime is a great opportunity to work with the younger kids without distractions from the older ones, so Miriam and younger will keep doing school work daily (which they are begging to do). 

 Little kids' reading programs

Okay, we're off to today's fun outing. Enjoy your summer!


  1. What a sweet post and filled with good ideas, thanks!

  2. I am starting homeschool for our oldest boy this fall and am a bit nervous about how it will go...if you can do it with seven I should be able to handle three Thank you for the encouraging posts

  3. Wow, Zsuzsanna - once again, I find myself in front of your blog with a notebook, avidly taking notes. Awesome idea on that summer notebook! That is DEFINITELY going on my list of things to do next year. This year I made the mistake of not planning nearly enough, and I want to do a better job next year.

    What a wonderful milestone for Solomon - and for you! Congratulations! I hope that I can accomplish half as much by the time I have an 11yo!

    So glad you guys are having a great summer!!


  4. I love your idea of purposely planning summer. We've homeschooled for 18 years and have 2 that have graduated (7 to go). I really enjoy your blog. Our summers are very busy with garden and family. We live on the other side of the country from you in the Appalachian mountains so our culture is very different, but it looks as if we have a lot in common when it comes to the Bible - KJV, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, post-trib pre-wrath rapture, etc. You and your husband have inspired our family to memorize scripture on a regular basis. I was unsure of what we could do at first, but the more we do it the more confident we are that we can do more.

  5. I think it's funny you always claim you home schooled for 9 years. So you started when your oldest was 2???? That's young for even pre-school lol.

    1. Actually, yes - how else do you think he finished 7th grade at 11? Solomon started a K3/4 program at 2 (almost 3), K5 at 3 (almost 4), and first grade at 4 (almost 5). The pattern has been pretty much the same with all our kids, who are roughly 2 years (and therefor 2 grade levels) apart. Becky is starting first grade this fall, also at age 4 (almost 5).

    2. So you spend maybe an hour a day on abc and easy pre-K stuff. Most parents just teach them that stuff without counting it as pre k for 3-4 year old. My 1 year old can recite the ABC's, that's not that hard lol. I didn't count it as starting his home school at 1! If that's the case I have 1 year of home schooling under my belt :)

  6. Well, could you even help him in Algebra? I couldn't. My daughter stopped asking me for help at the same age because she realized I was no help (or I took too long to figure things out). She is 12 and just finished Advanced Algebra.

    1. Uh, yes - I went to school in Germany, where Math required to graduate high school took me to a level comparable here to a 2-year math degree. There was no "no child left behind" program.

    2. So its been at least 15 years since you studied algebra? My point exactly. My kid didn't have the patience or desire to get help from some oldster who had to dig through her memory to figure out a problem. So she just figured it out herself.

    3. I'm glad you are so fond of Germany, and am surprised you choose to live here, instead. However, I will not that Germany is hardly an economic powerhouse, despite its great educational system.

  7. Anon at 4:56 Germany is the 4th largest economy? ? It is a 20th the size of the usa. The fact that America is so rich but has a poor academic record is a great shame. America can't afford to rest on it's laurels. Anyway you're attitude is horrible. You don't have to be so defensive. Facts are facts.


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