I may not be terribly original in my approach to homeschooling (though heaven knows I've certainly spent many an hour reinventing the wheel!) But more and more I'm realizing how well we're hitting our stride, finding what works for us -- and it's just so satisfying.
We just finished our first quarter for this school year, last Friday -- wow, did that go fast! I finished both of my quarterly reports over the weekend, and sent them off to the superintendent by registered mail yesterday (the due date I had set on the IHIP is not until this coming Friday, so this is waaaay "above and beyond" as far as I'm concerned!) While my blogging on the subject may have been terribly light, I actually did a great job keeping track of both my plans/what we covered and how the children responded to it, on a simple form I keep on Excel. I update my notes frequently throughout the day -- just little snippets to help me keep track of what we covered -- and as a result, tossing off a Quarterly Review was actually pretty easy.
Our "school" days have been relatively relaxed, since we stretch out our learning activities across the whole day, and don't try to "get it done by noon." We spend the most time on the things that most capture each one's attention (and how wonderful when it's all the same thing!), rather than give all lessons equal weight. (Reading and Math are always done first; but I've found the hard way that, for this homeschooling family, the more I try to make our time seem like "school," the worse it goes for us.) We're taking the long view here: There's no rush. And still, still!, it amazes me how much we accomplish!
We usually take a week off at the end of the quarter -- more for me to take a breather, organize my paperwork and plans and fend off the ever-present potential for feeling overwhelmed. (I don't know why I tend to get overwhelmed -- mostly, I think, it happens when I'm trying to "prove" myself to ... somebody out there, I guess ... or worry that we're not doing "enough" in meeting some arbitrary standard. Could we do more? Sure. But it isn't necessary, and the tradeoff could very likely involve a level of unpleasantness in our home that I've decided, from experience, I don't want. Besides, we already enthusiastically do more than the state requires. Dayenu.)
So the children slept in yesterday, and helped prepare a hearty breakfast of chocolate chip waffles to celebrate their "first day off." It was a stunningly beautiful, if somewhat cool, fall day, and after we walked to the post office (to dispense with those reports!), we decided to pack a picnic lunch and head back to the pond for an impromptu Nature Monday -- an activity which we would have done if this were not a "day off." (Any traditional school kids out there excitedly going out of their way to recreate "school" on a vacation day? Not too many, I suspect.) :)
After that, SB took a nap, Taz made a "museum" full of block structures and Junie B. played Carmen Sandiego, Word Detective. We straightened the downstairs; I mopped the kitchen and bathroom floors and did ALL the laundry, and even got a little planning done for next week (yes, there are definite advantages to "days off"!) A little later, the three kids went outside with raquets and a tennis ball, batting the ball at the garage door (and then chasing the ball all over the yard -- but they were having fun!)
Soon it was time for an early dinner -- Junie had Karate last night -- and, after that, a hearty bedtime snack of baked apples. SB snuggled down with Daddy while I read to the older two, and they played quietly together; then off to bed for them with a little more reading one-on-one with me. (We continue our planned "read alouds" at bedtime, as on any "school" -- or weekend, for that matter -- day. It's the one thing that feels least like "school" anyway, and I truly treasure that time with my children. And if it weren't for homeschooling, I doubt I'd still be reading aloud to my 10 year old every night -- yet, what a blessing for both of us!)
Anyway, we have a pretty good life here, I'd say. Sure, we drive each other crazy sometimes (OK, several times a day, but who's counting?) :) But we're together -- loving, learning, growing and figuring it all out, day by day.
It's surprisingly counter-cultural for a conventional girl like me, actually.
And I wouldn't have it any other way
"That's why I am homeschooling. Because I want our family to meet in heaven someday, and I think we have a better shot at it if we journey together as much as possible. God put us together for a reason." -- Willa Ryan (via Together for a Reason)