Friday, February 4, 2011

The Plan

I’ve mentioned that I am doing school planning for Steven. Yes, he’s four. Yes, it’s insane that I have to, but I do!

When Olivia was four, she had no concept of “official” school. We had Mother’s Day Out, and she had learned so much there. We loved it! A couple of months before she turned six, I started teaching her to read (MS does not mandate KG). That was it. That was kindergarten. We started first grade in the fall of that year, and everything flowed beautifully.

Then came Angela.  At four, she enjoyed listening in to our read-alouds and participating in history and science. But when I had to teach Olivia reading and math, Angela played happily by herself while Steven napped. No need for a preschool curriculum for her!  We moved to AR about the time she was ready to start KG (her birthday fell such that state law of the time had her starting KG just before she turned five). Since she was already in the habit of listening in to the “core” classes, we added in reading and a little math, and she was good to go.

Now there’s Steven. Steven is not self-entertained like Angela. He needs interaction. He needs attention.  When he took two naps a day, I was able to teach during those times and it worked well. But, as he grew older, it got harder. And harder. And harder. Some days it seemed like he was literally interrupting every two minutes such that it was impossible to really teach the girls! He wanted two things: to learn (he does, after all, take after his sisters in that!) and to be given attention. By the time he was three, I knew I had to start at least making him think he was included. So, I set aside some toys and activities to be specifically for school. That worked for a little while, but by last summer we needed something new again. So, I determined to redo our schedule such that I was spending about twenty minutes a day specifically teaching him, and then the girls were each spending fifteen minutes a day with him while I went over independent work with the other girl.

It was working! Except for one thing. I was no good at planning his activities. It has been a HUGE challenge for me to pull it together every week. I’ve spent two to three hours each weekend on his stuff alone, feeling completely drained and exhausted afterward. And that’s not counting getting each week’s stuff together for the girls! I have dreaded planning each week, and therefore dreaded school. I’ve been crying out to the Lord for a solution and asking others for help and advice.

Finally, this past Saturday evening a plan started to come together. I just needed to be able to set aside the time to work on it. I was intimidated. This is not my thing. I take other people’s plans and organize them to fit my life. I don’t make my own plans! But, with the Lord’s help, I was determined to do this.

It seems crazy to be planning history, science, math, and reading for a four year old. Especially now that AR state law has changed such that he’s not even eligible for kindergarten until after he turns six! But, we have the blessing of flexibility and can work to meet our children’s and family’s needs first and foremost. And, I’m looking at the plan and seeing how it can be a guide and a help, not a chain. He doesn’t have to do any of this because of his age. And, what he doesn’t use now, I’ll have on hand for later. But, we have a plan. And that plan is freeing me up to once again look forward to school each week.

All of the what ifs and fears of homeschooling are frequently terrifying to me. Decisions that Doug and I make today can and will affect our young children for the rest of their lives. That’s overwhelming!  But, I have to rest on truth. This is what God has laid before us. Every time we think about doing something different, He confirms this decision and this path. The what ifs are irrelevant. This is where we are. I pray for wisdom and faithfulness to rise to the task before me today, and I choose to trust that God will make today’s decisions work out for tomorrow.

And for today, I have a plan!

3 comments:

Choate Family said...

Yay for time to plan and organize and for kids who love to learn!

Summer said...

http://teachmejoy.com/
Joy, my roommate from college, OBU. See what you can use!
She was always AWESOME at elem. ed. (and many other things).

Ann said...

Joanna, you are my inspiration! I don't know that I would be here today were it not for the encouragement you pour into me. Thank you, friend!

Summer, thank you, thank you! Joy had mentioned that she was working on that, and I was looking forward to seeing it. But then I totally forgot about it. I'm going to look right now!