I keep planning and unplanning for the fall. This is the right time of year for me for that. My Facebook Memories are all shiny new plans that nearly all fell by the wayside. However, what has stuck is the following Good Advice From My Years of Miss-Steps and Faltering Forays.
1. For God’s sake, don’t start them young. “Better late than early!” is the motto to remember. The years that have worked for me all were with 11 year olds and up, roughly fifth grade if we’re thinking schoolishly. All other years and ages last at most 4 weeks before going down in flames. So that means I’m not doing anything whatsoever academically structured with anyone under age 10 this year. If Dorothy hasn’t learned to read by this time next year, and she wants to, I’ll teach her the same way I taught the rest of them. And that also means no formal nudges for Gloria. However, Trixie will be starting formal daily math (Life of Fred) and Gilbert will continue with Saxon 7/6. I also have a couple history and english studies I want to get to for Gil (and Abby, if she’s interested.)
2. If I don’t like it, and it requires me, we won’t do it. I have to enjoy it if I’m involved or I just won’t follow through. If the kid in question likes it enough to do it themselves, and asks me for assistance, that’s fine. But I can’t manage Oak Meadow Year 4, for example. A lot of this is alleviated by minding rule 1, above.
3. Be very cautious about combining ages/kids. I’ve had luck if they’re less than 2 years apart, but any more than that and it’s a no-go. This is especially relevant when working with kids on different sides of the adolescent divide. 9 and 6 might still be fine, but 12 and 9 are mostly incompatible. Also don’t try to make them share a text unless they are doing it on opposite days or will complete it before passing it on. Two kids and one book for weeks is the pits. That means I get two of everything, but that’s how it goes.
4. Over 16? Your education is almost entirely your own affair. I have very limited say in what the teens do. I will be pushing them to watch some video lectures in political science and philosophy because I think they’ll like them – and I’ll watch too. I’m also going to make them read and discuss a bunch of dystopic literature with me because dammit I want someone to read it with me, and I’m their mom, so they owe me. They both complain that they can’t do math beyond eighth grade arithmetic but then flop out after a week or two of attempting more. I blame the texts they’ve tried. Since Gil likes Saxon anyway, I’m going to be buying the next set for him. Maybe they’ll like it.
So, to sum up, nothing much until 5th grade and nothing much after 10th grade. The three youngest are wee. The middle kids are 4th grade, 6th grade, and 7th grade, by their ages. Bede is a freshman but entirely different and utterly unschooled. And the two oldests are a junior and a senior, respectively.
I’m keeping book logs for some of the kids this year because we are considering moving, so my Oklahoma “like, uh, whatever you do is fine” homeschool laws may be a thing of the past. You can follow along as we go, the links are in the header there.