Friday, August 18, 2006

Finding the Junk Drawer

Remember when you moved into your current house or apartment? All of the boxes labeled "kitchen" were stacked in the kitchen and it was time to decide where everything belonged. I remember standing in the middle of my empty kitchen deciding where it "felt" like the potholders should go. Where do I want my plates to be? Which drawer should be the silverware drawer? (Most importantly, which drawer will be the junk drawer?? In my current house I gave myself two!) If you're like me, there was just a certain "feel" to it. There are usually some commonalities (like putting silverware in a drawer rather than in a cabinet), but pretty much when you moved in you put things where it felt best for them to go, and where they would be accessible to you in your daily "kitchen life." Maybe you put things where they were in the house where you grew up (or maybe your mom was with you helping you unpack and she put them there!) just out of habit, but since all kitchens are different you had to make changes to fit your style and your available space.

It occurred to me this week that setting up a homeschool schedule (or "routine" if "schedule" is the other "s" word for you!) is much like moving into a new kitchen. As we've moved into a new year of homeschooling and have begun "unpacking" our new curriculum, I've been getting a "feel" for where certain subjects should "go." Math in the morning? History after lunch? Science twice a week? When should we read aloud? Does art have to go on Fridays? Wouldn't it be fun to start Monday morning with an art project? There's no right or wrong time to do those subjects, so it's simply what "feels" best and works in your daily "school life." And, just like in your kitchen when you put things out of reach or hidden away, they don't get used. (I have certain platters I haven't seen in years!) Poorly timed subjects simply don't get done most of the time at our house. If I tuck something away for Friday afternoon, I may be so tired by then I decide it's not that important after all. That subject becomes a poor, forgotten Christmas platter...

I've gotten other family's schedules before and tried to implement them in our home, and they just haven't worked. Some of them I haven't even had to try to know they wouldn't work! (Starting school at 7:00 AM? Notgonnahappen.) Sometimes I have loosely based our routine on how I used to schedule my public school classroom. Other times I would try out schedules I saw on the Well-Trained Mind boards (this is prime season for schedule-sharing!) But I've always ended up either altering them beyond recognition or simply abandoning them and coming up with something completely new. Do a Google search on "homeschool scheduling" and see what comes up! You can find as many sample schedules and suggestions as there are homeschool families out there. But, our families are as different as our kitchens. For you to replicate my routine would be like me telling you your potholders should go in that drawer under your oven. (What? You don't have a drawer under your oven? Exactly!) Additionally, while it is true that as a homeschooler I have the same kids every year, I also have different kids every year. Each year they are different ages, have different abilities, growing maturity levels and changing preferences. It's practically a new kitchen every year!

So... this week we have begun moving in. We started math, language, reading, writing and history. We'll add foreign languages and science next week. God-willing, we'll be cooking on all burners by the week of Labor Day. I'm praying God's direction for you as you begin unpacking your year and stirring up school!

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