And We’re Off!

We’re back to school. No, we’re not year-round homeschoolers. Or at least we weren’t until now. My older son’s summer vacation ended three weeks ago when he began a class through Coursera (to be reviewed soon). He’s been working on half a high school English credit with the course Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, thus freeing up some time this fall for other pursuits. It’s a fine class, but he’d likely admit he’s struggling with school in summer.

Me, too.  I wasn’t ready to remind, prod, and schedule. Since our (or for the rest of the summer, his) travel schedule continues class or no class, finding time to get the assignments and readings done while we’re at home proves a challenge. I was hoping that having only one class to plan for would encourage my older, now 15, to take time management seriously. Let’s just stay that remains a work in progress and organization issues remain a chronic stressor in this house.

This week marks the start of physics with a class of four teens, including my older. I’ve been planning on and off during break but still have some anxiety about this undertaking. We’ll be meeting three hours a week for a bit of lecture, problem review, and lab, with extra monthly labs from a friend who speaks fluent physics and has enthusiasm to spare. His presence reassures me that this will be fine and even fun. To follow along with the syllabus, visit Don’t Touch the Photons (plans will pop up here a bit later). The rest or my older’s schedule starts after Labor Day, with classes at the University first then personal finance with a small group a few weeks later. By the time that last class begins, his literature class will end, a fortuitous coincidence.

Next week, my younger joins in with his Online G3 courses. He adores these classes, and he’s more than ready to return some routine to his life. He’s also firm that no other course work can start until after Labor Day (tradition trumps all for him). At that point, he’ll start the rest, aside from Coursera’s offering, A History of the World Since 1300, and NaNoWriMo will capture much of his time in November. He’s a bundle of emotion now, definitely ready for the structure the school year provides yet anxious about how he’ll get it all done. The gradual start helps allay some of the fears about keeping up (and he’s quite able to do so), yet doing so forces repeated routine changes (which he doesn’t do so well). It’s all a bit Goldilocks-like without the baby bear’s contribution. Just right is elusive.

We’ve always had a staggered start, although never nearly one this early and staggered over so much time. Amidst keeping track of all these start times, I’m starting my own venture, coaching a handful of kids as they work to write with more ease and ability. This week’s tasks are largely logistical — opening an LLC, creating record-keeping systems, and reading writing samples. My mixed emotions are similar to my younger’s: I’m excited to start (and it will be a staggered start) yet anxious about meeting families’ expectations and keeping up to my standards. Apples don’t fall far from their tree, it seems.

So ready or not, here we go. I know my anxiety about the year will fade as I sink into my routine and the boys into theirs. I know my younger will struggle as we make this move from summer to fall, despite his inborn need for a predictable schedule. I hope my older will embrace (or at least accept) scheduling and planning, seeing it as a tool that can help him decrease the chaotic feeling he often has. I’m certain we’ll all learn and grow this school year, as we have all the ones before it.

May your start to school, if you have a formal one, be met with peace and optimism. Best wishes!




3 thoughts on “And We’re Off!

  1. We have never had a big formal start day, but have always just staggered in and out of routines. I hope you find your rhythm and the rest of the year goes as you’d like it to.

  2. Good Morning! Just wanted to ask if your students “join” in on the Coursera classes? Are they seeking the certificate? I am debating whether or not to have my 15 year old son take a History course. I would like for him to follow the course, but not necessarily join the discussions, peer editing, etc. I signed up (just for kicks) for the Literature course your oldest is in. I wanted to see how the courses work and how the students interact. Frankly, the behavior of the enrollees was juvenile and disrespectful. Now, I’m basing this on keyboard chat exchanges I read. Not interested in that drama for my son. He just wants to do school. I think the course content is top-notch, however. I can grade his essays…I don’t need peers in the class doing that. He has two older sisters that can also peer edit…one just graduated from college, the other is a sophomore in college. They know all about peer editing 😉

    So, how are you handling this?


    PS: I’ve got everything ready for our first 12 weeks of Chemistry using your guide…love it!

    • My older son is writing the essays, submitting them, and evaluating others. I think there is value in him going through the grading process, and while not all of the comments are spot-on, there are always bits of wisdom and guidance in them, at least thus far.

      Grading the work of others has taught him a good deal, too. I know my older needed help initially with the peer review, and my younger will likely need even more (he’s a really critical little guy). My older has seen poor, good, and excellent form and content, and he’s learned from all. Seeing others make the errors he makes (poor proofreading, mostly) teaches him that people really do notice the little stuff he’s prone to blow off. He hasn’t used the forums much, and I’ve forgotten to remind him, but the bit he did he found interesting.

      My younger will be a full participant as well. Part of the benefit of these classes is the removal (to some degree) of mom from the equation. If I grade the essays and set the deadlines, we miss that benefit. I can see that might not be the best choice for every family, however.

      So glad you’re getting use out of the Chem curriculum!


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