The School Year Begins!

This week, we were officially “back to school.” I admit to feeling woefully unprepared; I haven’t re-visited my scope-and-sequence for each of the children to refresh myself and provide necessary direction, which is something I’ve faithfully done in previous years. I haven’t reviewed “daily responsibilities” with the children to help things go smoother. And we haven’t been having a daily Circle Time or training times except for a handful of days since coming to Africa. I miss that terribly and know what a great difference it makes in the overall scheme of things. But honestly, the burden of daily work has just made it impractical for all of us to get on the same page and sit down together as I would like. The best time has been afternoon, but inevitably when I think “Wow, we can have Circle Time or do a little bit of training!”…the afternoon rains are upon us and it’s so loud in our tin-roofed house that all we can do is sit down and look at each other. The person next to you can barely hear you, even if you’re yelling. But, it sure makes a good time for each of the kids to sit down with a book (which everyone also enjoys).

In our first five days of schooling, we actually only did three complete days. Life kinda got in the way. We ended up harvesting and canning our carrots one day (21 quarts plus a bunch fresh, which will last a while!). That day, we managed a half-day of school in addition to the extra work. Marc and I went to town another day, and the kids under Isaiah’s supervision did well in managing the day’s work and food needs, as well as taking good care of the baby, but only did a half day of schooling in the process.

On Friday, after not having cleaned my kitchen floor in two weeks and having that on my to-do list (and needing to wash the dining area/sitting room floors as well) PLUS having an extra-large load of wash to do, I was sure that trying to get all that done AND a full days’ school was pretty unrealistic…but I was pleasantly surprised. Jonah cleared out the sitting room and swept, then Deborah followed up with water and squeegee. I set aside my laundry for a quick quality-control check, and then they got to their books. Everyone else had other jobs to do, which took some time, but they got done and got to their schooling as well. And the baby was happy to sit in his stroller while I did wash, instead of wandering around looking for trouble as usual.

Recently, we’ve been having some issues with faithfulness (the children doing as asked, particularly while I am outside focusing on the daily wash)…they know I’m not really paying attention and you know what the Bible says about children left to themselves bringing their mother to shame? It’s true! Well, on Friday I was certainly distracted with my daily work but pleased to see a change in the “norm,” with all the kids inside staying on-task. The difference? I suddenly realized that Marc was unexpectedly HOME, and although he was trying to rest and ended up reading a book in bed…HE WAS HOME. The kids knew it. They got their stuff done! And even had a little time to enjoy the new swing set before lunch. Granted, lunch was a bit late as I finished up the laundry and squeegeed the kitchen floor…but everyone agreed that it was both a productive and enjoyable morning. And in the end, a full day of schooling was accomplished! God is good.

Isaiah (our oldest, age 13 and in 8th grade) has decided that he wants to be a missionary bush pilot and has been focusing a lot in that direction. There is a flight school in Nairobi, which he can enroll in as early as age 16, so he’s prepping for the GED and wants to test-out as early as possible to get into the program. All as the Lord wills, but the goal is a good one and GED prep is a fine thing to aim for. He’s got lots of enthusiasm and it’s helping him take responsibility for his education. So also this week, Marc and Isaiah sat down for a planning session and figured out his scope-and-sequence for the sciences, which was a big relief to me. Now I just need to sit down and so the same for the Social Studies. We use a curriculum for math that we feel will prepare him well enough (not to mention, he’s got a pretty analytical mind, anyway).

Not a bad first week, though (needless to say), I hope in subsequent weeks to get more accomplished in less time.

For those of you who are homeschooling, how’s your year going?


4 thoughts on “The School Year Begins!

  1. Whew! What a start for you! I hope you like “starts!” I always do! I liked your tip about “training times.” I have been praying about how to be more consistent and effective with my willful 4yo who can get dangerously out-of-check dangerously fast.

    Our school year is off to an interesting start. For one, I am still quite weak after some illness this summer, so I’m more tired than usual and have to factor that into the mix. We have quite the age range this year–new for me. When I started homeschooling, my oldest was 9, and my youngest was 4–and those were the only two we had. By the time we added another who was ready to school, the older two were working independently. But then we had 4 boys in six years, and three of those are now in full homeschooling mode. I’ve never had a class of littles before! So I’ve got the 11 month old baby, 3 & 4 year-olds doing preschool-Kindergarten work, and a 7 year old doing 3rd grade work. The daughter is 13 and working independently on her Jr. High plan that I mapped out this past spring. My oldest is 18, and 7.5 classes away from his Bachelor’s Degree through CollegePlus (with an additional Associates Degree in Accounting)–but I still coach him a lot with his study plans and help him plan how to best attack each test and course.

    But let’s just say we’re off with a sprint! The kids have been doing double, triple, and quadruple schoolwork. I have had to officially “close” school each evening (sometimes at 7:00, sometimes as late as 10:00), and on Fridays I have had to adamantly say that school is closed until Monday. This has never happened before. My kids are on quite a roll.

    Why? Because my reward system is apparently a little too motivating. They are earning Hot Wheels cars for good work–diligence, neatness, carefulness, creativity, effort, attitude. I arranged it so that a child has to earn 50 stars per week to earn a new Hot Wheels car–and for the PreK/K boys, that means completing each of the week’s lessons with excellent effort and then maybe doing a little extra. The 7yo has to earn 100 stars–for the same reason (he has double the schoolwork). I had carefully set my goals for them hoping to inspire them to a good week of work. I was not prepared for how much they wanted to earn those new cars and test them on their track!

    They have been writing page after page after page of penmanship, hoping to earn stars for neatness and correct formation and size. They have carefully colored their illustrations, making every effort to stay in the lines, blending their colors and adding creative flair. The 7yo has tackled reading far beyond what I would have asked him to do–trying to earn more. The three-year-old, today, copied the entire alphabet from his ABC chart, both Capital and lowercase letters, plus the numbers 0-9. All the letters were the right size and sitting properly on the line. I was amazed at his diligence and hard work! Not just amazed–I just stared at the work in disbelief. Two weeks ago, he couldn’t write any letters (except for his name) unless he had dots to trace!

    Needless to say–it is a blessing! We are 3 weeks into school and have nearly 7 weeks of lesson plans done in several subjects, plus piles of extra work that the littles are cranking out.

    But keep in mind–I also cannot go anywhere or do much of anything else! If I had my health, we would be out hiking, fishing, collecting leaves, harvesting and canning. We would be practicing on the two-wheeled bikes, and jumping on the trampoline. It’s a whole different dynamic for us this year. The kids are doing more chores because I must do less right now. I don’t have much ministry outside my home at all–other than an older disabled gentleman who joins us for dinner every evening.

    So, that is this season of school for us right now. It almost makes me wonder for what derailments God might be letting us get ahead! (We’ve had a lot of “derailments” the past 3 years!)

    Thanks for sharing. I was looking forward to catching up on your posts as I had my tea time this evening! I always enjoy reading about your daily life. It is encouraging and helpful — it makes me feel uplifted and inspired. Your family is one of God’s little blessings to me–letting me know I am not alone!

    God bless!

    1. Wow, sounds like your school year is off to a GREAT start!! So happy for you! Praying for your return to good health, but also praising God that you are persevering.

  2. Hey friend. We are about one month into our school year. I know the feeling of getting started without all the details quite in place. I set my start date and started even though I didn’t have all of last year’s books put away and this year’s organized yet as I had wanted too. But now, four weeks in, we’ve got books in order and notebooks organized and that feels so good! We have a little “school room,” but we never school in it, so I turned it into a “play room” for little ones. It seems to have an identity crisis, though, because it keeps getting taken over by un-“babyproof” projects–like Egyptian costumes and drinking straw pyramids–not to mention origami and coin collections :). We are loving ancient history and creation science this year. I think Micaiah might be a little creation scientist in the making. AnaSofia is really taking off in her homemaking skills, which is such a joy to see (as well as a big help). When you are tempted to be discouraged by what you can’t fit in, remember all the amazing skills your kids are learning that are not in the “standards of learning.” They are getting the best kind of education I could imagine–godly training, academic instruction, real life skills and the kingdom of God in action. Praise the Lord!

    With love and prayers, Lorna

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