Secular Thursday: End of the Semester Musings

We're wrapping up our semester; tomorrow is our 90th day of school for this year, and it will be a light day as far as work.

Our life is somewhat in a state of limbo; we're planning to put the house for sale, and then we'll try to buy the house we want. This has overshadowed most of our school year, and in recent weeks, has led to the relocation of the school area, as well as the beginning of packing.

We've done a few new things this year, too, and let a few things lapse that we probably shouldn't've. Here, then, are my favorite new things, as well as the things I most want to resume.

01. My iPhone. The first day I got it, I jokingly referred to it as my secondary brain. It's truly grown to be that. I keep menus, grocery lists, gift lists, book lists, and more, all easily accessible wherever I am (and while I'm on a telephone call!). I downloaded the Kindle app, too, and that has been equally fabulous. I'm always on the lookout for the next way to improve the iPhone for my use, but it's already excellent. I truly think every homeschooling parent should consider a smartphone of some type. I'm partial to Apple products and the iPhone, but I'm sure others would work well, too.

02. The color laser printer, with scanning, faxing, and copying capabilities. How wonderful this is! We still go through ink quickly, but its purchase enabled us to do Lively Latin via the download option, and there have been many fewer times that we've been stymied by a lack of ink.

03. New curricula. Lively Latin has been a great find. The visual layout is perfect and I like that it reinforces material in various ways. Classical Writing Homer will be a good investment, too, based on previewing the material. Already, on week three, it's forcing EG to become a better self-editor.

04. Goal setting. Each week, on Sunday, we set goals as a family. FB has two goals, one of which are determined by the adults, the other determined by him. EG has three goals per week, with two determined by her and one by us. The spousal unit and I select four goals individually, and we then have between five and eight goals for the two of us together or for the family as a whole. We have yet to experience a week where all of the goals are completed, but I think it's an important process for all of us.

05. Friday night musicals. This has been neglected for the past two months or so, but I'm eager to reinstate it. I hope to supplement it with local performances of musicals, such as at high schools.

06. Sunday night specials. We've watched all of Blue Planet and nearly all of Planet Earth. We have a set of Sister Wendy art DVDs, and I hope to have us watch various other educational-type shows. I have Earth: The Biography, How the Earth Was Made, The Universe seasons one, two, and three, Evolution, Cracking the Code of Life, and The Miracle of Life all on the homeschool-related wish list on amazon.

07. Keeping busy. I was nervous about the number of activities scheduled at the beginning of the year. I still remain somewhat nervous, but overall, I think it's been great for the kids. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday afternoons all have activities planned, Wednesday morning is FB's tumbling class, and Thursday is science lab and EG's piano lessons.

08. This blog. I've sort of had a homeschool blog before, and I've maintained a personal, protected blog for years, but having a public blog has actually helped me focus some of my thoughts. Writing things down for others to read requires a certain amount of organization! Doing regular Secular Thursday, Weekly Report, and Wordless Wednesday posts helps keep in the mode of posting. The Weekly Report alone has been extremely helpful in keeping a realistic picture of what's been accomplished.

09. Smrt Mama. For a long time, I didn't make an effort to seek out fellow homeschoolers that lived nearby. Even once I did, I either connected with the mom, or the kids were at the same age/level as EG... not both. I was very careful not to push when she began to consider homeschooling last spring; homeschooling is never something about which someone should feel even a bit of pressure during the decision-making process. I won't lie, though, that I was thrilled with their decision.

10. iPod Touch. We got a free Touch with the purchase of the spousal unit's new computer over the summer. We decided to let EG use it, at least provisionally. We've had to make sure she doesn't spend too much time watching Tom & Jerry cartoons via the YouTube app, but she has been using it for a few school-related tasks, especially the timer feature. I'd like to get iFlipr for her over the Christmas break and spend time setting it up for use. In general, it's been a good supplemental tool.

11. Clarity and focus. Every year has seen an increase in this, with regards to our overall goals for the kids' educations. Still, I feel like this year has seen some productive discussions between us as parents. EG's started having some talks with us about her relative strengths and weaknesses, too, where we delve into prioritization. Finally, I feel like I myself have a better vision in my head of what I'd like the finish line to be.

12. Science experiment kits. I resisted buying these for years, because really. How hard could it be to just pick up the necessary items as needed? Apparently pretty difficult, because science experiments just weren't getting done. I splurged on full kits and voila! That plus having a regular appointment with friends for labs, and miraculously, science experiments are being completed.


Smrt Mama said...

Aww. You're on my short list, too.

Anonymous said...

I would love to see a list of the best kits you've used so far.


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