As summer winds down and the hope of cooler weather and fall leaf-looking fills my heart I get the excitement of back-to-school planning in full.
I used to love shopping for scented markers, the perfect gummy eraser, or new lunch box. I adored the lists and new snappy binders I got to take home from the office supply store. As an organizer, back to school shopping was a dream even if the realities of structured school weren’t always. Social media is now filled with precious photographs of “First Day of School” signs and adorable tots and tweens on their front porches. It seems like just last week when we saw the “Last Day of School” pictures and fawned over how quickly things change in one short year.
As a homeschooler it is easy enough to mark the start date to the school year. Planning a school year is a challenge but is possible (with enough coffee and time). As a parent of a gifted child it isn’t so easy. Traditional schooling isn’t made for the asynchronous. As the new school year starts so do the worries. Will I be able to move my plans if my child struggles or blows through a subject? Will they sit down and allow me to work with them in spite of their perfectionism? Will our 2E struggles be just too much for one parent to work with? Will I still be able to stay sane and manage a household with extra responsibilities?
One of the two main planing factors for our family is layout. I am a big believer in dressing for success. Getting dressed for the day and the world you want to live in is important. Equally important is arranging your class room. So what kind of classroom works when your mind is all over the place?
I can’t help but pin those beautiful Pinterest homeschool classrooms, but would that work for us? Sure we could do an Ikea run and create a perfectly white space filled with nothing but the best Sweedish particle board…or we could invest in a sturdy Pottery Barn desk sure to inspire the bank to charge us a mountain interest. The trouble is that education isn’t something done in a vacuum. We can’t force learning into a space any more than we can force our kids to sit in that space, no matter how beautifully arranged. Another trouble with a designated space is the idea that education begins and ends at some fixed point. Like many of my fellow homeschoolers, I want to raise children who are always learning, always engaging the world around them.
For a perfectionist child the idea of school can be daunting. Perhaps they would even refuse to walk into the class room out of internal struggles. That wouldn’t make for a very smooth home dynamic.
A better solution for us is learning where we live. Creating spaces in the everyday living arrangement that encourage constant interaction with various methods of learning is going to be important for organic education.The dining room table is a great place to gather for meals but equally so for education. The learning conversations never stop when you keep return to the table hour after hour with new sources of inspiration. A play room that isn’t just blocks but also science laboratories and imagination stations is a much more approachable education. To empower the students to always reach for more knowledge, deeper love of interests and greater desire for is the goal. Making the home and the neighborhood the classroom means education is seamlessly fused into life. There is no start to the school year when education is just what you do every day. Perhaps a few more structured hours here an there occur but mainly the upbringing is the classroom.
With traditional development the students have learning expectations that start and end within a defined school year. Within that year, a set of topics are covered broadly. For the out-of-sync child a year is too long to wait to change subjects or go deeper. For many of these kids, a month is a good amount of time for each subject. A summer off of school is an impossible task as the desire to innovate and engage doesn’t suspend just because the pool opens.
What does an asynchronous newly 4 year old have on his mind for this school year? Well, after a very intense planning meeting at the local frozen yogurt shop, decisions were made for this year. We will be learning in one month chunks and covering a variety of topics. Some others are daily or weekly.
- There is Story of the World for our classical education history.
- Right Start Math mixed with Khan Academy for math.
- Our library card and good conversations for reading development and comprehension.
- R.E.A.L. Science: Life Science and Physics
- More SnapCircuits and YouTube for electronics supplemented by loads of trips to our local model railroad club to discuss electronic layouts.
- Dad wants to do Ham radio and so do the kids.
- Art classes with Mom with cameras, watercolors, oil pastels, and acrylics.
- Continuing our memorizing the Periodic Table of Elements.
- Geography and reading with Give Your Child The World.
- IXL.com for getting an idea of what skills need honed.
- Reading Rainbow for more books, videos and fun.
- Lego for everything!
- BrainPop Jr. for measurable learning on fun topics.
- A local TimberNook class for social and outdoors development.
- Board games
- Nature Walks
- Regular visits to our local state park and talks with the Rangers.
- Meteorology for my cloud and weather lovers.
- Handwriting Without Tears for the penmanship.
- PenPal for social communication and responsibility.
- Being in charge of the calculator at the grocery store.
- And so much more!
So, happy first day of school to those starting again! We are celebrating with our own humorous front porch photograph. Age wise, it is Preschool time! Brain wise we are really working well between 2-4th grades most days but some subjects are 1st grade for a while. What a fun ride this is! I hope other families can get inspired to enjoy the first day back to school without being afraid of what levels they are actually entering. Everybody is different, so why not be true to yourself?!