Winding down first grade and ramping up my preschooler

I’m already focused on next year’s schooling. This is a result of all the homeschool publishers running sales, and awaiting the new Foundations Guide from Classical Conversations (CC). We are closing out our second full year of CC, and our fifth year of homeschooling, since I ambitiously and unnecessarily started my own homeschool cooperative with some close friends when my firstborn was just 18 months old in Atlanta. It was a glorified play date, but it showed me the beauty of coops – close mom friends, like-minded people, the power of “scale” and positive peer pressure.

I had been in my own coop till my oldest was 4, but in two cities – Atlanta, then Rochester. Then I did two coops run by other people – loved it, and learned a lot! That last year in Rochester, I also did CC at home with just the music CDs for Cycle 1. Seeing the fruit of the teaching methodology, and knowing the benefit of community, I joined my first CC community when we moved to CA the next year for Cycle 2. And here we are ending Cycle 3. For these two years I’ve also belonged to another homeschool coop.

As I consider next year, I realize I’m juggling the needs of a 6.5 year old, 3.5 year old, and a rising toddler. For the first time, we get to repeat a Cycle (Cycle 1), and really add another learner to our one room schoolhouse (my rising 4 year old). As we ease our way into learning that has a little more rigor for my oldest, introducing “the same old” for my second (with a different learning style), and meeting the normal baby needs for my youngest, I have really met the word called “multi-tasking” in ways I hadn’t known it before. On most days my water intake is poor and I haven’t fully taken care of my own needs. I leave room for the fact that I’m coming out of the fog of having a newborn (who is now almost 14 months old), and every three months she leapfrogs her abilities and schedules shift.

All that to say, I’m closing out this year by maintaining my commitments, but I know I’m only doing just ONE coop next year – CC. I’m following God’s calling to downsize my life of activities and upsize my life in quality. I’m removing breadth in exchange for depth and balance. I’ve added a Shabbat dinner and it’s following sabbath rest – it has taken a lot of energy to do this, but it’s been worth it.

Over the summer, I will get down to the business of letter recognition and phonics for my preschooler, and big time lessons in obedience. Spelling, language lessons, handwriting, and creative storytelling for my rising second grader will capture his attention. We will work on drilling math memory too, for the basic arithmetic functions, and work diligently through the rest of first grade Singapore math while we learn abacus alongside together. We will maintain our priorities for learning the Bible, godly character, and scripture memory. And we will add back swimming. If I’m on top of it, we will finish first language lessons book 1, and song school Latin book 1 as well.

I will start building in an exercise and movement regimen for all of us. Right now, my children and husband get it but I’m missing out dearly. I will cut down on the sugar intake, and start cleansing our palates in quite a strict manner.

We will take advantage of the beautiful outdoors and hike and camp, and explore with friends. We will go whale watching, and elephant seal observing, and sea otter snooping. We will watch sunsets and see monarchs migrating. We will traipse through brush-land, and wade through marshlands. We will watch waves crashing and sit beside rivers. We will see plays and symphonies, ballets and orchestras. We will go on dates and have family days. We will be God’s creation and enjoy His creation and marvel at the work of His hands. The heavens declare the glory of God, The skies proclaim the work of His hands. We will exalt Him with our own works and words and adoration.

Piano is the only thing that doesn’t halt or change rhythms from the traditional school year to summer.

When school starts again, I will start my oldest in Veritas Press’ Ancient History and Old Testament & Genesis to Joshua Bible online programs, and we will do CC, spelling and math with more rigor. We will play more games. My middle child will learn how to read and I will learn how to have more balance, joy, and diligence.

In the meantime, we will worship the Lord God Almighty, and we will pray. We will ask God to order our days and plan our steps, because He already has done it. We will walk in obedience.

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