We just finished the second week of October. Last week we had a holiday on Monday (hello, Columbus Day!) and then schooled for the rest of the week. On every single day I started on time(ish), checked all the girls' work, and got all of Edwin's school done. This is the first week I've done all of these things on all four school days. Just in case you were wondering, we started schooling the third week of August. So it's been a long time coming.
This school year has been somewhat of an exercise to get going. Edwin started first grade, which meant that instead of doing an hour or so of reading each day (did I ever mention how teaching a child how to read is my number one least favorite part of homeschooling?), we have reading lessons plus math lessons plus history plus various language arts things plus science (okay, science has yet to start yet. It's animals and plants this year. I'm not that concerned). With a child who is still working on their reading skills.
Kathleen started fifth grade this year. Which means that pretty much everything she does, with the exception of math, is done in a completely new way. And so not only does Kathleen have to figure it all out, but I have to figure it out before (and then with) her so that I can know how to answer her questions about how things are done.
Over the summer I worked on figuring it out, but we all know about how long battle plans last once the battle has begun. So then when school started I began round two of figuring things out. One of the very first things I did was ditch our science curriculum, which I didn't find thorough enough for my liking. And plus, it was much too disorganized. So that, of course, necessitated finding a new curriculum, figuring out that one, and then ordering everything for it. And then explaining it all (at least ten times) to Kathleen.
Then we had to work out grading. Our umbrella school requires grades to be submitted each semester, and we did a pretty miserable job of keeping things recorded and organized last school year.
I have some sympathy for first children as they are always the test case for everything that happens. There's a lot more angst when you go through something the first time that when you go through it the second (or third or fourth or fifth or sixth). Which is why it's nice to have so many children - lots of opportunities to first perfect and then implement the things you learned on the poor hapless first one.
This year I decided to pay Kathleen for her grades. She is also responsible, starting this year, for her own clothes and miscellaneous expenses, so there's a pretty good incentive to do well on her school work. Her sneakers and church shoes are too small and it's starting to get cold. Need some new shoes? Well, you'd better make sure to do well on your school work! [Insert evil mom laughter]
That, of course, meant more work getting that system worked out. Everything takes some time to learn and implement.
And then Sophia started third grade and independent work. Which just added another layer of complexity. It turns out that managing people may not take as much time as doing it yourself, but it still takes time. And a whole lot more chasing people around to get things done.
But finally, after over a month and a half of working out the problems, I think we've got it down pretty well. Which is good because in less than four months there is another wrinkle named William showing up on the scene (while staying three months at my parents' house in North Carolina). I'm a little relieved that our original plan that called for William's arrival this summer didn't work out. Because combining all of the above with the post-partum insanity of a newborn? Not the best idea I've heard of recently.
So, that's school for now. Always a little crazy (what household with five children isn't?), but much less crazy then it was a few months ago. And I'm always happy to take a little less crazy in my life.