Every year, about this time, I have to go through the school-shelves and the closet where I keep a lot of our supplies. Some things get packed up for use in future years while other things are simply straightened and/or made more accessible. I take inventory of what actual school supplies we need and plan to hit the mid-July school supply sales as well as deciding what things I need to look for at the HEAV Convention and particularly at the Used Curriculum Sale.
Each year I find that I’m looking for fewer strictly academic materials (straight textbooks or workbooks) and adding more and more multi-sensory, exploratory type materials into our schooling and really into our lives. As the children have learned to really read, I’ve learned that they will read anything their eyes happen to see (advantages and disadvantages there to be sure) and that if I surround them with interestingly displayed information they will read it and retain a great deal. If I post our memory work on the wall, they will read it while they eat their meals and “work” at memorization without even realizing it!
Between that tendency in the older two and Bull’s need for hands-on activities I’ve been reorganizing things to give more space for displaying information and more access to the kinds of creative learning materials that Bull thrives on. I now have a little set of plastic drawers with his puzzles in the bottom drawer (otherwise Jack tends to scatter them!) and ziploc bags with various learning activities in them in the middle drawer. The top drawer holds supplies that I need during school, and I’m able to smoothly move him from one learning activity to the next, without having to hunt for pieces and supplies.
I’ve also done a bunch of pinning to my Bull School Ideas Board and plan to print most of his papers and projects for school before school starts. I do try to have a planning period on Sunday afternoons, but sometimes that has to slide in favor of a nap, and since Jack naps in the room with the printer I can’t print things during that time. I’m learning (very slowly but homeschooling is a self-educating process after all) that I can have all the best ideas for study with the children but if I don’t have all the materials and lessons planned out and on hand the ideas will never be implemented. I think of myself as being very spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants but really that’s not my best working environment at all! I need structure to function well, and if I’m functioning well the children will too!
I’m finding it a tricky balance to strike: organized and planned enough that the things I want to do and explore with the children can happen, yet relaxed enough that we can follow a whimsy or two, or set school aside for the day in favor of a playdate or other activity. Since I know that a big part of striking that balance for me is preparation I’ve told the big children that once they have finished their current units of Reading, Phonics and Math they can have a vacation until July. June is usually the nicest of the summer months here and they can enjoy the warmer but not truly hot weather together and I can use the hours of school time to plan and prepare for next year.