Starting another homeschooling year, that is!
Some people wonder why we start so "early" compared to public schools, but it makes perfect sense to us -- in the middle of July, South Carolina can get mighty hot and humid. We don't have access to a pool, and the Upstate is home to a pesky day-feeding mosquito that makes it horrible to go outside unless you're slathered with bug spray.
In other words, the kids have no real desire to venture outside for any substantial length of time.
Now, I can have them inside begging for video games, or I can do something worthwhile with the time... so we homeschool when it's hot and yucky outside, and we finish when the weather turns nice in the spring.
This year is the first time I am teaching S-E-V-E-N children (while dealing with the 8th who gets into everything). I can't believe I am teaching ninth grade down to kindergarten!. My hardest year, I think, will be in two years when I've got 3 high schoolers (and still teaching 7)... still, I had my obligatory "freak out" just before starting. Every year I am overwhelmed with the task before me -- I realize how awesome a responsibility I have, and how easy it would be to mess it all up, and how much I need the grace of God to get me through another year. Still, if the Lord has called me to this, He will give me all that I need to finish the job.
We are still using Mother of Divine Grace syllabi to guide us through the year. For the first few years of homeschooling I tried to create the "perfect homeschooling environment" in which all the kids could be studying the same thing at the same time (only on different levels). Many people are able to achieve great success in that area -- but I am not. I burned myself out trying to set up this magical learning environment, and felt like I was spinning my wheels and going nowhere. When I finally poured out my heart in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I felt like I heard the message:
"Teach them all separately."
I immediately started laughing, and said, "That's either the dumbest idea I've ever had, or it came from You." No offense intended, but I was burning myself out while trying to study TOGETHER -- how on earth was I supposed to teach them all separately???
Having no other plan in mind, I scrapped all my unit study dreams and instead decided to follow the Mother of Divine Grace syllabi to the letter. My job was to get the books, type up the weekly schedules (a huge effort in its own right), and guide them through the year. We don't enroll in the school, but the syllabi are WONDERFUL!
In the few years since we've made this change, I have to say that we are operating much more smoothly, and getting so much more down in a more efficient manner. It doesn't make sense, but the success we're seeing is what leads me to believe that I really heard from the Lord, and not just my overactive imagination.
To supplement a few areas that I feel that MODG is weak (such as history and science in the early elementary years) we are using Classically Catholic Memory (a Catholic type of Classical Conversations in which students are guided to memorize a timeline from Creation to Pope John Paul II), Science for Young Catholics 1, and lots of other fun science, bug, and history books. I personally think the early years are so much fun to teach, because the enthusiasm is there and there are so many amazing read alouds and other resources available to teach just about any subject a child is interested in.
May God bless us all in the upcoming school year!