Monday, August 12, 2013

Preparing for a new school year

I find this a busy time of year, a time to organize and make plans for the new school year.  Now that I've been at this a few years (14), I find planning a bit easier because I know what to expect. When we first started homeschooling, I just made it up as I went along.

There are some benefits to just winging it. You can go as fast or as slow as your child needs. That is great in the early years (k-3).  I found that the older my kids got, the harder it was to improvise.  I also found that the older I got, the more I liked having a firm plan.

So, here are some of the things in my plan for the new school year.

1) The co-op schedule

I have been part of a home school co-op for about 10 years.  I find that my kids enjoy co-op more when it is fairly structured, but with time built in for hanging out with friends. Once my kids hit high school age, they were too busy to waste time with activities that didn't serve a purpose.

2) Community College class schedule

The concurrent enrollment programs at our local community colleges are a great asset for homeschool students. However, it definitely adds a level of complexity to our schedule.

3) Music

This year will be great. We have a music teacher which comes to our house at a convenient time!  In addition, we have band rehearsals for me and the kids, as well as orchestra rehearsal for me.

4) Sports

This is the bane of my existence.  Soccer season is a nightmare.  This year should be slightly easier since we only have 2 kids in soccer, instead of three.  Add to this gymnastics and karate, and I practically live in my car.

5) Speech Therapy and OT

Last year, our son receive speech therapy services at the school near our house and at Kaiser which was also near our house. Now I drive 30 minutes each way to his weekly appointment. Hopefully, this will be our last year of speech therapy.

6) Other enrichment classes

There are many wonderful enrichment classes in our area. I try to keep it simple, but an occasional outside activity help meet their social and academic needs.

7) Online Classes

The nice thing about online classes is that they fit into your schedule, and not the other way around.  However, the kids have a few "live" classes.  They can watch the class in real time, interacting with the teacher and other students.  The kids love the live classes, but it puts more pressure on our schedule.   We found it was much easier to stay on top of things with the push of keeping up with the live class.

They still have the option of watching the class later or taking more time to cover the material.

8) Tutoring

We have a math tutor and a special ed tutor that come to the house weekly.  Again, this is easier than going someplace to get help.  It is still a challenge to find hour block that is open every week.

9) Homeschool Park Day Activities

This once a week activity is important for the younger kids.  My older kids have moved on from the park day group and no longer go.  In the last few years, I haven't been going to park day as much as I did when I started out homeschooling.  However, now that I have a boy (in my household of girls), I'm making the effort to get out to park day regularly.

10) Jobs

All my girls are in demand as babysitters.  Almost every day, somebody is babysitting for someone.  Also, I now have an young adult at home who hopefully will have a regular full time job.

11) Toastmasters International

I am a member of Torchard Toastmasters, a public speaking club.  I try to make the once a week lunch meeting.  I have completed the Competent Communications manual and am working on an Advanced Communication series manual.

12) The Wild Card**

We are foster parents.  We never know when the phone will ring and we will shift into rescue mode.  We never know how long the child will stay.  Usually, I will need to transport the child to visitation twice a week, doctor's appointments and therapy appointments.  This can be very challenging.  However, usually it is for a short amount of time and we go back to "normal."  Then "normal" feels a whole less busy.

To handle the complexity of so many activities, we track it all our individual schedules on Google Calendar.  That way, we can all see each others' plans easily.

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