Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Armed with a Steno Pad

I realize that in many places school is wrapping up for the summer break season. Many kids are already out, while others have just a few short days left, if that. One thing that is very, very different in our homeschool is that we don't take a summer break.

Gasp! NO summer break? Are you mad, woman??

Probably, but that will have to be covered in a different post. My reason is very simple; they just don't need one. There really isn't any very good reason to take a months long break over the summer. The break was initially instituted so that additional hands would be available to help on family farms. We don't have one. Not yet anyway.

Homeschooling means a flexibility in our schedule that isn't attainable with institutionalized learning. We take breaks whenever we feel like it. Last year we took off almost a month in October when Rob came home from Iraq. Then we went to Disney for a week in the begining of December. We'll be taking another two weeks this October to drive up to New Hampshire and visit my family. Those kinds of things would be hard to do if we didn't school in the summertime.

But there are things we need to do now that correlate to the public school calendar. Homeschool fairs will be starting up next month, school supply sales will start then, too. In order to reap the benefits of sales and demonstrations I have to start my school year planning now, six months before our new school year starts.

Armed with a Steno pad, the Rainbow Resource online catalog and the heaps of school books in the homeschool room, I've started making the list of materials we will be using or need to buy. This year I'm homeschooling four kids. Alex is 3/4th grade, Olivia and Cordelia are in First and Amelia is Pre-k/Kindy. It might sound confusing -and sometimes it is- having one kid in multiple grade levels for different subjects but that is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool. It's also why organization is so crucial.

Each child has a list of subjects under their name tabs in the Steno book. Under each subject will be written the book(s) that we will be using. I have a plastic tote that I'm housing the books we'll utilize, sorting them out of the general boxes of material. There is a tab for things we own and another for things we need to buy with item numbers and prices. Yet another tab holds the website logins we have and the last will be a schedule of who does what on which days.

The book is small enough for me to carry easily and add to when I'm out shopping or at the conventions I plan to attend. Having the prices listed will tell me if I'm finding a good deal. I'm sure things will flex and change throughout next year, we like to take a Montessori/Unschooling approach with some things, letting the kids dictate what we'll be learning. But the book will help me see gaps in learning and give me a structure on which to build their education.

For those of you that are starting your breaks, have fun! For my homeschooling friends, I'd love to hear what you have planned for the upcoming year, and have fun too!

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