Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Organized Mom is Disorganized This Week

… and by ‘week’, I naturally mean ‘month’. {sigh} I am playing catch-up in a major way… we’re 2 weeks into M6 and I just now printed out my reports for M5. (If you’re just tuning in, I use Homeschool Tracker’s Basic for record-keeping. We break for a week after every 6, and I print report cards because I am an obsessive-compulsive type who likes paper (as well as digital) reports to refer to when the need arises – and it does, often. More on that in a bit. If that’s not your bag, that’s cool – but you don’t get to make nasty comments… unless they’re funny. Funny, I can forgive {wink})

I’ve spent the last 2 or 3 weeks working with SFK and PB&JMom getting our homeschool group’s co-op planned and the calendar set for the next few months (and then coming home and updating the calendar and website). I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout all stages of this event, but in working all of that, I have neglected my own planning. I have our 6 week arc down, but I do not have daily lessons planned for the entire mod as of yet. My poor lesson planner is nearly blank past this weekend, so I will be sitting down and filling the rest of that out over the weekend, I am sure. After all, how can we learn when we don’t yet know what we’re going to learn about?!

Something I have been meaning to address is, “How do you do everything that you do?”

This is a question I get asked often – or variations of. In the past month, I’ve been called everything from a ‘straight-up overachiever’ to an ‘android’… all in good fun, of course, but the question stuck with me. I’m sure it’s a compliment with a great deal of snark mixed in, but I get asked that often enough to want to answer it. I’m just never sure what to say that answers it without sounding like I’m either defending myself or bragging. So here goes…

First of all, I’d like to say that what I do is in no way a comment on what you do (or do not) do. My friends know this already, but I wanted to clear that up before I went any further. I’m hardly perfect and gleefully submit to pointings-out of my faults, but as Patchfire says in SmrtLernins’ Secular Homeschool Archetypes: The Organized Mom,

Organized Mom doesn’t know how not to be organized…

Truer words, my dear… truer words. I love Smrt Mama’s homeschooling archetypes post. I can easily identify myself. I could front and say that’s not me, but we all know it is, lol.

I don’t think it’s so much about the ‘how’ as it is the ‘why’. As I said, I’m an obsessive compulsive type who likes information in duplicate and in multiple formats (in case of a fire… or hurricane… or alien invasion…y’know. Whatever). I do not like surprises; the rare exception to that is if you can manage to keep me from detecting even a hint of it. Such a feat has only been accomplished once, and all credit to BFF, because she completely rocked that! As you would expect, I am not a spontaneous person. My calendar has actually had time blocked of for ‘something spontaneous’ in the past, I kid you not. This mindset extends to basically every aspect of my life.

That’s not to say that I am not flexible. I am more than willing to change plans most of the time, but I need my hours blocked off so that I know what my options are. That way, I can pick and choose what I really want to do and rarely miss out on something cool. This is the part that applies to homeschooling and why I am the way I am. I don’t want my kids to miss out on a unique learning opportunity. Why spend a week reading about the Civil War when we can go to a Civil War Re-enactment and live it? That’s so much more interesting and makes history tangible. I dig that.

I also know what I want available in our area. Though our individual group is rather small, the homeschooling community in our tri-county area is extensive. With 7 co-ops that I know of (just learned about another one yesterday!), not counting mine, that’s a LOT of homeschoolers. But none of the groups are working together as a team to pull resources that we could all benefit from. Each group individually might host a science fair or an art show – but what if we had enough participants from all the groups for a ‘real’ show or competitive fair? I just see potential know that I want that opportunity for my kids. Surely there must be other homeschooling moms who see this kind of void, and I can’t help thinking that if we all work together, we can fill it with something totally awesome.

I also know what it is that I want for my kids, and to an extent, what I want out of it as well. I enjoy homeschooling. I love researching and finding cool things to dry and make and do. I like messy projects and days where we chuck the lesson plan and snuggle on the couch with hot chocolate and literature (or I will when winter gets here, lol). I love teaching my kids – watching them finally ‘get’ something is absolutely amazing. I love that I get to spend time with my kids – hours per day that would be lost if they were in school-school – every aspect of it, though challenging at times, is right up my alley. Combine that with my personal philosophy about child rearing, which can basically be summed up with, “When you know better, do better”. I want the best for my kids, and I do my best for them. I’m by no means perfect, but I try awfully hard.

I think there’s also a good dose of learning from my elders mixed in with my outlook, too. When my babes were little, I held them all the time. No really. ALL the time, either in-arms or worn on me in the sling. This came about, in part, because I kept hearing my grandmother and her friends talk about how much they wished they had not listened to the ones who told them to put their babies down to sleep or on the floor for ‘tummy time’… about how fleeting the baby days are. I didn’t want to miss out on any of that, so I held them. When I was in school, my mother worked a lot and talked often about how much she’d only ever wanted to be a stay at home mom. Since I am a stay at home mom, I try to enjoy it to the fullest and not take it for granted. These kids grow faster every day and since I can’t slow ’em down, I’m savoring every single step.

So, back to the organizational stuff, if you’re still wondering why I keep and print records, and perhaps more interestingly, wondering what it is that I do with them, you’re in luck. I print them to file so that I have a back-up if my computers and/or hard/flash drives bite the dust. I use them to balance myself when I’m planning our lessons. I print the Overview and can see how many hours were devoted to which subjects. We’re almost always math and science heavy. Our Reading and LangArts/Grammar are moderate and history is actually pretty light most of the time. That makes sense to me – I know where that comes from. Math is my weakest subject, so I overcompensate to make sure I’m not short-changing my kids on math skillz. Maybe too much. I think science and technology are vital to my kids’ futures and careers, and so they play prominently in our curriculum. I’m much more comfortable with the ‘Reading’ stuff. That’s my strong suit, and so I feel pretty confident in those areas with what we’re doing so I don’t focus as much on those. They are also my boys’ weakest subjects, so I can see that maybe we need to spend more time in those areas.

In a 6-week long mod (usually 24 days of instruction), we range from 67 to 82 hours of ‘classroom’ time. That includes the lessons and field trips that are in my lesson planner and sometimes I also count schoolish things that are done on non-school days (like a field trip taken with our homeschool group on our off week). There are also a zillion ‘other’ things that could be added, but I try to keep what I record just to actual ‘lessons’, if that makes sense. Being able to quantify our time like that lets me sleep at night instead of worrying if we’re spending enough time in school or on schoolwork.

Grades are a little trickier. They have excellent grades – but we don’t just ‘gloss over’ anything that they need to know. If we’re learning a math skill, then we stay on that skill until it is mastered. They may be ‘behind’ what other kids their age are doing, but I feel that mastering a skill now is far better than squeaking by with a ‘passing grade’ now and finding that your foundation is weak later on. And they’re not behind (in case you were wondering).

So anyway… this all sounded a lot better in my head, lol. I’ll stop here, though I welcome questions if you want to know something specific. I hope that this casts a little bit of illumination into the transparent depths of my psyche for you {wink}.




3 responses

  1. i am new to your blog — do you have a link to the forms you use? or is it all on homeschool tracker?

    I am an addicted planner and fine i get so caught up in resources and planning, i have trouble DOING.


    September 13, 2010 at 2:04 pm

  2. Hi Aimee 🙂 Welcome!!
    I make my own forms for my lesson planner and for the kids student planners that they’ll use starting with our new school year in January. I posted links to the files in this post:
    They’re pdf files and you can print and copy them for your own use for free (or you can see what I’ve done and make your own with whatever tweaks you need).

    Homeschool Tracker lets you set your school year, students and grading periods and print reports for each of them. If you’re thinking of using it, I;d try the Basic (free) version and see what all it can do. As a record keeping solution, I am very, very pleased with it. I hear the upgrade is worth it; I’m considering it now, but am planning on getting it definitely when the boys are older.

    September 13, 2010 at 6:23 pm

  3. Thanks so much, my boys are young so i do a portfolio and i make my own notes but not a lot of record keeping. THANKS

    September 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

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