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!