Okay, the boys’ online classes started two weeks back, surprising me, who paid no attention to starting and ending dates when registering for classes many months back. Unfortunately, this meant taking school work on vacation, but with a bit of coaxing, all was done and we had plenty of time to enjoy our visit with my family.
The weekend between our trip and the first “real” day of school, September 6, just about killed me. I’d been planning for quite a while, focusing on the large unit study my older will do this year, encompassing literature, meteorology/earth science, academic writing, and history. The big picture for that project, along with the details for the first month or two of that course, were in place. So last Saturday, I flitted from website to website in my never ending quest for the perfect planner. In case you were looking, too, stop. It simply doesn’t exist. I’ve blogged on our planner woes before, so I’ll spare you our history here. At the end of every summer (and over most winter breaks), I find myself hunting for the holy grail of planners. Every year there are more out there. Adding an iMac and iPad only increased the options, lengthening my search for the holy grail of planners.
Here’s what I don’t need: attendance tracking, the ability to parse out a book over a whole year, the ability to shift a schedule for a day missed, or anything that can’t be used on our PC and Mac at the same time. I don’t need a place for educational goals, lists of books the kids read, or hours studied in each subject each day. No reporting in Michigan is a blessing and a curse for the homeschooling parent. While it’s delightful to not have all that paperwork, I sometimes wonder if just a bit of paperwork would kick me into organizational gear.
Or maybe I’d just have to look at more planners.
Back to last Saturday. After a few hours of time online, even re-reading my post from earlier this year so as not to re-visit what didn’t work then and probably won’t work now, I did what any practical, procrastinating person would do. I hit the stores. Barnes and Noble let me down. How many pink flowered planners with too few lines can a store sell? Off to Office Max or Depot — whatever was down the strip mall. It wasn’t until I’d given up hope that I ran across their (very pink with two blue styles) weekly planners for the school year. It had to be full-sized one. Eight by ten at least. My older son needs serious room to write, so none of those half-sized weekly jobs will do the trick. His writing is, um, scary. And large. He needs a good amount of room.
Planner in tow, I had to confront the real problem: how to make all we’ve decided to do fit on the already-busy schedule. By Monday night (and, no, I didn’t work straight through or anything close, but I did whine a good deal), I had our first week on paper, day by day for my younger (grid format, for those who care) and by the week for my older (with a printed iCal page for the places he has to be). No, the entire year isn’t planned out. Yes, I know many people who do that. I hide my admiration for their planning with the solace that we’re ready to change gears anytime, since there is no year-long schedule to disappoint. Whatever gets me through the day.
So one week in (almost, and it’s a short one), we’re doing fairly well. No one has missed an online class (happened last year more than I care to remember), my older is embracing his planner (or tolerating it), and my younger isn’t flipping out about the amount of work he has. My older summed it up at the end of Wednesday when he said, “I’m doing really well this year, aren’t I? I mean, it’s only the second day, but I’m doing well.” And he is. I’m proud, and he’s satisfied.
And I’m starting to relax and feel the rhythm of the school year. While three days in may be too soon to sit back and glide, if our start is any indication, I think we’re on the right track.
Addendum: Yes, the white board was working fairly well last spring, but it lacked the ability to look back and see what one had accomplished, given it was erased as tasks were done. Heck, items were erased when partially done, causing grumbling from mom. Thus the return to ink and paper.