If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Thursday, December 6, 2012

End of 2012 Reflections...

I can hardly believe this year is almost over! It went by so very quickly. I was inspired by this post today to make some reflections, on homeschooling among other things.

We're not quite halfway through our "school year", but there are minor adjustments to be made, beginning with scheduling. I think I have my husband and kids talked into more or less homeschooling year round, with breaks when we need them, like right now! And a good bit of a break in summer, though not as much as previous years. I'm trying to think how to best approach this for my particular children, maybe doing project based learning primarily during June and August--I have the month of July off so that will definitely be vacation time, with swimming, and field trips, etc.

What I am looking for is that still elusive balancing point...

You know, the point between more rigorous schooling and interest/child-led exploration (unschooling), as well as between housework, college, work, etc. It is not an easy balancing act, which is why I am actually taking fewer units in the spring, 6 instead of 8. And why I am trying to get the kids (and M) to help out more around the house.... and yes, I am starting to see progress in that area! For example, I came home yesterday to a sink clean and empty, dishes all put away!

We've made some good progress in finding our path for this year, although we still have some weaker areas to shore up. Math is going quite well, and language arts are good, history and science could be better. I re-read the following recently (excerpted from a homeschooling forum post), and it's got me thinking about other ways to approach science...

We begin with the rabbit trails. We keep a question board strictly for science and write down any and all questions. These questions can be posed anytime throughout our day but I deliberately solicit them at the beginning of official science time. Questions also emanate from our readings, which are often intentionally planned to provoke the dc's thoughts about certain timely subjects (gardens in the spring, ice in the winter, etc.). We then decide whether our questions are research questions (can find the answer in a book) or testable questions (can design an experiment and find the answer for ourselves instead of looking up the answer in a book). Then we act accordingly. (I tend to follow the dc's lead on this unless they are just not seeing something easy and obvious because I realize that there are many questions we could technically design experiments to answer but they would be too challenging for where we are--measuring the earth's circumference springs to mind!)

I'm going to be reading Nurturing Inquiry over my winter break to get some ideas for this field! I'm also going to re-read The Writer's Jungle, because more than using a written curriculum for language arts, I would love to be living the Brave Writer Lifestyle!

I'm also working on a nice, inclusive list of the "good books" I really want my children to be familiar with, for our Afternoon Basket, regardless of historical period, or any other associations. Rather than having a particular "study" to go through, I think if I just have a list to work from, I can choose whatever fits at the moment. One invaluable source for ideas is Ambleside Online, and another is the 1000 Good Books list, with plenty of great historical fiction/non-fiction suggestions available at A Book in Time.

Recently, the homeschooling forum I visit most (dedicated to Classical Education by and large) was down for several days for retooling. Strangely enough, rather than really missing a board I visited nearly every day, I found myself relieved. And I realized that reading about what so-and-so was doing, and how it was much more in some sense than what I am doing, put pressure on me, or rather, I put pressure on myself... for not being a Classical educator, for not teaching my kids outlining (yet) and Latin, and on and on. Not comparing myself to that gave me more confidence to relax. When the forum came back up, I visited, and I still do, but not every day anymore.

In other reflections, I had the nicest realization yesterday, that for the first time in probably 25-27 years, I do not have a planned New Year's resolution to lose weight! I'm not quite at my goal, but close. Of course, now I have to maintain the loss! But that is such a different feeling. Of course, there will be other resolutions/goals, mostly relating to finances and household stuff, but for once, not weight loss, and frankly, I am hoping that is a resolution I never have to revisit!

So, a quick re-cap...
Books to read during my month-long break between semesters:
Nurturing Inquiry
Project-based Homeschooling
The Writer's Jungle
Plans to work on:
My Good Books list
How to implement the Brave Writer Lifestyle

In the meantime, I've taken down my page on what we're using, while I make some adjustments, reflect, and discern where we're headed now!

Are you taking a winter break? Re-planning/retooling anything?


  1. I'm ironing out some new-ish plans for Monkey Island right now as well. We'll be a little more relaxed when we come back from Christmas break. Hopefully I'll be blogging a bit about it as I go!

  2. Great thoughts. I am constantly in retooling and rethinking mode, it seems! I should give it more thought and try it write it out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Well we are always re-tooling around here;). I feel the same way about forums. I used to visit them quite often, and I still like them, but I don't visit them near as often as I used to. Makes me change my mind too much!

  4. As you know, I'm doing a whole lot of rethinking my current approach. I bought and read Lori's book about Project-Based Homeschooling b/c and I am not as impressed as I think I'm supposed to be -- but maybe that's b/c I'd read her blog for years and felt I'd wasted my money on stuff I've already heard her say again & again (?). I'm not sure.

    Honestly, I think I'm tired of looking to other people to learn what I should be doing in my own home. And it's making me feel sort of tingly and wild and like I want to start a revolution. LOL

    Who knows what January will bring!

  5. sorry to hear that, jessica. :( on the up side, i think a lot of people haven’t read the blog as thoroughly as you have — and the book lays everything out in a much more orderly fashion than the blog. good luck with your revolution. :)

    gillian, hope YOU get something useful out of it. ;o) and don’t forget we have a forum, too, if you have follow-up questions or want to discuss it with other people trying some of the same things. lots of friendly support there. http://project-based-homeschooling.com/forum


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