Hello from the world of homeschool preparation!  Whew!  Nice to see the light of day again!  (Metaphorically, anyway, since it is 9:30 at night.)  I thought I would squeeze in a post before we officially start school tomorrow.  We have done some major work to get ready for this year, starting with a MEGA room change for the boys.  HeroBoy and the Duke have been sleeping in bunk beds for a while now, and about six months or so ago, I moved Chipmunk in there with them on a toddler bed.  That about did it for space.  They couldn’t actually play in there, just sleep.  It wasn’t the greatest set up for three rambunctious boys.  I’ve been secretly giving that room the stink-eye for months.

Meanwhile, I had this really oversized school room/ sewing room that was going to waste.  So, we did the old switcheroo.  The old school room had no doors, so we added one, and blocked off the other entranceway with a soundproofed board.  And voila, a huge, fabulous bedroom for the boys.  They were so excited, they hardly knew what to do.  There’s been a lot of partying in that room for the last two days, I tell ya.  It’s amazing, and I love it.  But it was SO much work.  It took all day Saturday just to clean, move furniture, stain and install the new doors, etc.  I could not have done this without my wonderful husband, who worked so tirelessly and cheerfully ALL day, and without my mom, who came and kept the kids occupied the whole time.  Thank you both so much!!

With that out of the way, I spent a little of Sunday, and ALL day today, setting up the new school room, and finally, getting all my lesson plans together.

I. am. exhausted.

But so happy.  The school room is perfect.  I lurv-lurv-lurv it.  My favorite element of the room is that it is a very specifically SCHOOL.  It has a door that can be shut– which seems simple enough, but the fact is, sometimes the hardest part about homeschooling is “shutting” out the rest of the world so that you can concentrate on the task at hand.  We’re at the point now where I have to really actively teach, and I don’t need the distraction of household chores or the telephone or Lifetime Movie Network, or whatever.  I need to focus, the kids need to focus.  Plus, I can work with the older ones alone, while the younger ones are busy doing something in another room.  (Like, pulling all the books off the shelves, or something even more horrifying involving the toilet brush.  Don’t even ask.)  I am really fortunate to have the space to do this, because I know many (if not most!) homeschoolers make do with the kitchen table or a corner somewhere.  I don’t think you have to have an entire room to dedicate to this function, but it sure is nice and convenient.

As to my schedule, I have decided to try something new this year.  Last year was a mess.  Chipmunk was so uncooperative, I just had to try and squeeze everything in during his naptime.  It was so NOT how I envisioned it.  I started out with this tight, regimented schedule- and it didn’t last two weeks.  So, this time, I’ve got a plan.  (Okay, so I had a plan last time.  But this one is a BETTER plan.  Seriously.  Shut up.)

We start out early, eat breakfast, and then, honestly, I’m setting the two younger ones in the living room with Dora and Diego for an hour.  Yup.  You heard it.  TV to the rescue.  I know I can count on that first hour of the morning to be drama free if the Marquez cousins are working the room.  (Don’t ask why I know Dora’s last name.  I’m not proud.)  While they are getting their morning fix, Czarina and HeroBoy and I will go straight to the tough subjects in the school room- math, phonics, and language.  I can handle dual teaching, as long as I can do it uninterrupted!  That was the major issue last year.  Plus, this year, we’re instituting “busy work”, so that when they finish a worksheet, they don’t have to interrupt me as I’m teaching the other child. They can just pull out their busy work and do that until I get back to them.  So, I’ll just go back and forth between the two until we’re done.  

Then we break, and all the kids attend their morning chores (make beds, etc.).   We’ll have a morning snack, then all four of the kids will meet back in the school room for Circle Time.  All together, we’ll do our Bible story and memory verse, music, Pledge of Allegiance, etc.  Then, Czarina and HeroBoy will do their seatwork and individual study time, while I do some Pre-K with the Duke and toddler activities with Chipmunk.

Or, that’s the plan anyway.

In theory, it all sounds pretty good.  It is, however, written in pencil.  I’m going to figure out what works- I’m flexible.  Flexible, and yet, I realize that what’s going to make this work is a schedule.  I can look down the road and know that it’s important for me to get this worked out right now– I will have five students in five different grades in just a few years.  I can’t afford to be flexible to the point of falling apart!  I am the kind of person who needs a plan, needs structure and order, or things get ugly.

So, that’s about it.  Oh, wait, the lesson plans.  This is also something I’ve done differently this year.  My friend Denise passed along a great suggestion, and I decided to take it.  It’s this:  write out your lesson plans once a week.  The first time you do it, go ahead and write out two weeks worth.  At the end of that first week, write out another week of plans.  This way, you are always one week ahead in your plans, you always know what’s coming (what extra materials you might need or something) and you’ve covered yourself in case you get behind in your planning for some reason.  Does that make sense?  Anyway, I did it.  I wrote out two weeks worth of plans for Czarina AND HeroBoy, even though it was a huge task and took most of my afternoon.  I feel such GREAT relief to have it done.  I feel rich, like I’ve horded up on precious plans.  Ha.  

Are you sick of reading about this now?  Okay, I’ll wrap it up.  I just thought I’d give you an overview of things in case anybody was curious– plus it encourages me to see it all written out and not just in my head.  It’s the simple pleasures, yeah?

Tomorrow, I’ll post our annual “First Day of School” pics, (I do so love the side by side comparisons from last year’s), and a few shots of the school room itself.  

Wish us luck!