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It’s no big secret that I thrive on a schedule. There’s something about having things explicitly written out, annotated, and/or planned for that makes me feel centered and at peace. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the Mister’s fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants methodology of last minute, changing plans, let’s-see-where-the-mood-takes us.

In view of such differing expectations and differences one would suppose it’s a miracle squabbles don’t break out in our home over the “what-to-dos” and “whens”. It’s a bit of give and take in the day to day (which I have learned over the years): yes, I plan for stuff (ie. excursions, outings, activities, etc.) with the laid back attitude of we’ll-see-where-the-day-takes-us.

I planned an outing for a stellar museum but the boys are feeling/needing some sun shiny rays? Sure thing! Similarly, there have been days we planned to veg around and one of us got the hankering to go out and explore: I can plan an outing in a few minutes with the help of Google, of course. Life is a series of give and takes when you co-exist with those you love, wouldn’t you say?

So I’ve learned to relax in many respects with my ceaseless zest for planning the day out to the last detail. I’ve learned to roll with changes, to let the day and our moods and desires dictate what we do and don’t do. On the other hand, there are times that scheduling and planning are beneficial, with the caveat, of course, that life happens and is unpredictable and that last minute things (such as a friend dropping by, a last minute invitation, a lingering illness, an emergency, a feeling one is burnt out, a particularly sunny day… the list is endless) do happen and that flexibility is oh-so-very-important to a happy and balanced life (in my opinion, of course).

Which brings me to the planning and scheduling of our upcoming school year: The Boy’s seventh grade year. From what curriculum to purchase (or needs to be purchased) to the day’s schedule to what classes are covered when… I schedule it all out. I’ve learned to use the schedule as a sort of guide: It’s important to stick to it, of course, or school won’t happen, but it’s also so very important to not do “brick and morter” school in our own home, because for us, that’s one of the benefits and blessings of schooling at home.

Perhaps, I’ve scheduled certain classes to occur in certain order but find several days into the school year that’s just not a good fit: I change it.

Perhaps, I’ve purchased some new jazzy textbook for some subject or other and find myself groaning every time I reach for it, or worse yet… the look of panic or indifference in The Boy’s face screams, “Please, no!” I stop using it, regardless of how much well earned cash I spent on it (this is particularly amazing advice I received from a fellow homeschooling momma when The Boy was in third grade, I believe).

Perhaps, a subject or discussion brought a plethora of questions or excitement! This is especially awesome: throw the schedule out the window and pursue that curiosity and zest for knowledge.

Maybe the weather has been particularly hot or rainy or sunny or too cold and now you find yourself facing a cool morning or a break in the clouds or beautiful puddles with cool rain or even a break in cold weather… aren’t those the best times to go out and explore and enjoy the beauty of God’s earth?

Obviously, we aren’t unschoolers, though there isn’t wrong with that approach at all. I’m a big advocate of doing exactly what is best for your kiddos and your family. Who best knows your family and family members but you? As not unschoolers we do stick to a schedule but allow the possibility of a day here or there being left to the whims of childhood and life and all the amazing things our current location might offer.

This approach works for us and took me some time to accept and love and embrace (I thank my sweet Beau for that). But more importantly, it’s one Brooks thrives on too, and that’s so very important because this educational journey (seeing as he’s an only child, hopefully just for the present moment) is all about him.

Last year we did too much and scheduled in too much and covered too much. We completed what we felt was vitally important, while dropping some extras that were making life too busy, and still by the end of the year we were burnt out and ready for summer. Well, really, who’s not ready for summer? But that’s neither here nor there. The point was that we were burnt out. We may have visited some amazing places and gone on some amazing outings, we may have covered some awesome material, and participated in some amazing events… but amazing only goes so far as long as, in my opinion again, there’s a fair and do-able balance that leaves us refreshed, amazed, and itching for more (not glancing at the calendar wondering how many more days until endless summer visits us with it’s lack of scheduling and copious amounts of resting and lounging around, books, and outings).

With that in mind, a few weeks ago I worked out our schedule for the year, began ordering curriculum, and figured out what subjects we would cover during the school year. I worked with The Boy to see what subjects he wanted to cover and made sure to schedule in a good block for his computer programming (which is currently what he wants to do with his life). And all the while, I made sure to remember that stuff will happen, that flexibility will allow us to enjoy every second of it, and that this journey called life is so beautiful I don’t want to miss it fretting about stuff that can wait.

And of course, gratefulness, even in the midst of lows, takes us a long way.

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