Simple Homeschool compiles around this time of year; it's been fun to see the wide variety of ways in which even a small sampling of homeschool parents organize their children's home learning endeavors. And - via my former blog - I even wrote posts for the topic a couple of times and shared them on Jamie's link-up.
As I've read through this year's entries, it has, of course, struck me - as it has repeatedly since last summer - that this year is my last opportunity to chime in on a day in the life of our homeschool. The girls will graduate in June, and that will be that. I fully intend to stay engaged with the homeschooling community - locally and beyond - in several different ways. But after June 6, I won't be directly facilitating my children's learning activities anymore.
In fact, this "semester" is a time of transition for us.
You see, the girls wrapped up most of their formal academic studies in December - by design, to avoid last-minute stress in the weeks leading up to graduation - so a day in our lives right now is different than what has been the norm for the last few years. As a result, we all feel as if we're in a sort of limbo, hovering between the comfortable routines of the past and the new (exciting and somewhat scary) adventures of the future. Some days one or more of us wishes we could go back; other days, we anticipate the plans God has laid out before the girls so much that we wish we were already there.
Even though we could have arranged our learning environment any way we'd pleased, the girls had agreed throughout their high school years that they'd prefer to wake up somewhat early in order to complete their formal bookwork by early afternoon; this was a stretch for my night-owl daughter but she made it work. Thus, we'd start our days around 9:00AM with "morning time" - a group gathering during which we'd talk through the day's overall schedule, catch each other up on various thoughts and interactions with others that we'd had since the previous morning, drift off onto tangents related to current events and/or theology, and (eventually) wind our way back to a brief time of prayer. We'd wrap up by 10:00 or 10:30, after which the girls would each load up their bookwork and customized learning logs and retire to their rooms to address their individual studies. I remained available to help as needed - usually on math corrections or part of the writing process we employed for language arts and history - and kept myself busy with other endeavors when I wasn't needed. By 1:00PM, we set aside the bookwork and had lunch. And then at various times over the past few years, afternoons and evenings have included time for music lessons, dance practice, choir and musical rehearsals, art class, teen group activities, and (eventually) paid jobs, in addition to personal endeavors like sewing, knitting, crafting, writing, reading for fun, and (yes) watching some "twaddle" on TV.
In Limbo Land, though, things are a bit different.
For one thing, our schedules have diverged. My early bird would now like to complete her bookwork as soon as possible each day, and she's in the midst of changing jobs (setting her overall daily schedule in flux) and growing a relationship with the young man that God has brought into her life. My late-riser is relishing the fact that having limited bookwork affords her an opportunity to sleep in most days. Thus, Early Bird is often done with all of her academics before Night Owl has even had breakfast, and "morning time" has been on hiatus for the past couple of weeks, likely to return only intermittently over the next few months. And I've relaunched an old routine of heading to the gym right after I wake up, which has changed how my own morning routine proceeds.
Secondly, the girls' remaining bookwork now only takes about two hours a day, and sometimes not even that. They're both taking the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course as a sort of capstone "senior seminar," and we've determined that they can easily complete each week's work by devoting about an hour to it each day, Monday through Friday. But I've also decided to let them monitor their own progress, with the understanding that they may need to complete some assignments over the weekend if they choose to spend less time on weekdays; as long as they're both ready for each Monday night live class session, I'm letting them prepare as each sees fit. Beyond that, Early Bird spends some time each day on personal finance, reader's workshop, Spanish, and piano, and likes to work out most days as well (contributing to her credits in "personal fitness"). Night Owl also does personal finance, reader's workshop, and piano each day and sometimes works out. And once a week or so, a new video launches on the app we use for world geography; the girls watch for new posts and view them as soon as possible after they're published. I help with personal finance and some of the Perspectives work - but that's it.
Beyond that, the girls do spend their free time in ways similar to before. It's just that they sometimes have more of it, and it's a bit more disjointed than it used to be.
But we also have some new endeavors to tackle over the next few months - planning a graduation party, getting senior pictures, contributing to preparations for both the homeschool spring formal and graduation ceremony, creating personal displays for the ceremony, sending out invitations for the ceremony and the party, finalizing transcripts, creating diplomas, and completing registration at each of the girl's chosen post-secondary institutions, to name the obvious. Oh, and I need to get caught up on the girls' scrapbooks so that I'm totally up-to-date by graduation on June 6.
All of this contributes to a type of new normal compared to how we've managed our days over the past several years. But this new normal is weird because it's destined to be very short-lived, lasting only until the beginning of June, when things will change yet again. And then, of course, we won't ever return to what has become business-as-usual. Instead, we'll move on to a whole new phase of life, with all its unknowns and promise.
There's a bit of parenting wisdom that I've purposed to hold onto since the beginning: Sometimes the days are long, but remember that the years are very (very) short. The years have, indeed, felt exceedingly short - I cannot believe I'm already in my last "semester" as an "official" homeschool mom - and I know these last couple of months will race by. I have completely mixed emotions about that - so happy for and proud of my girls as they launch into some very exciting endeavors...but still (and probably always) wishing for more time with them as children. And I won't ever apologize for that desire.
But who knows. Maybe at this time next year, I'll write a post about a day in the life of a newly "retired" homeschooler!