Slowly we're coming to the end of our school year. I don't usually plan it that way, but the various subjects tend to run out at different times, so that the children's workload diminishes bit by bit as they head into the summer.
The first subject to peel off was middle-school geography. This one is actually the culmination of a two-year curriculum; we spent two full school years working two days a week with Mapping the World with Art by E. J. McHenry. The kids have, over the past couple of months, wrapped up their final project: a world map in the medium of their choice. My 12-year-old used pen-and-ink to produce a map centered on the Pacific, then decided to color it with pencils:
Here's H's 11-year-old, working acrylics on canvas, from a few weeks ago:
The same 11-year-old produced this map on a cut-up grocery bag, completely from memory and without reference to any map or instructions, in about an hour.
(As an aside, I highly recommend this curriculum. If you do it 3-4 days a week, it's for sure enough to "count" for both social studies and art for anyone in 3rd through 8th grades, and with a little supplemental reading I think it also could form the core of a one-credit 9th-grade geography course).
So, geography is complete. My 9- and 12-year-olds will finish their ridiculously-unsupervised-by-me, self-taught and self-corrected science and language arts workbooks here in a week or two. I should just tell them to go as fast as they want and be done sooner if they like. My 15-year-old will not quite finish his precalculus book, but since I designated the last chapter (it's about probability) as optional, neither of us are concerned; and he likes probability, so he'll probably get reasonably far into it anyway.
The high school Latin II students will finish their 32-week syllabus in about two weeks. And next week I'll cover the last new material in their U. S. History course, which really deserves its own post -- I'll write that when I do the course summary for H and M to put in their kids' portfolios. They still have to take a test and turn in a project. Which means I have to write the test. Chemistry will be done in three weeks. I have to write the test for that one too. It'll be more fun to write than the history test.
As for younger kids, some things (math, Latin) are never done done because I reserve the right to assign a lesson here and there all summer long as needed.
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As usual, my workload doesn't diminish -- it just turns more and more towards thinking about next year. Lesson plans are moving along -- not as fast as I wish -- but I'm distracting myself from that by thinking about a major change I'm about to make in the first-floor workspace.
Here is what it looks like to walk from the front door (to the right) through the schoolroom this very morning before anyone wakes up:
Step a bit farther in...
Take a left and head through all the way to the living room:
Do you see those large, functional (mostly) metal cabinets and the reclaimed wooden kitchen cabinet, which I've lived with more-or-less peacefully since we moved into the house nine years ago?
All about to go!
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I have to wait about a month to order them, because IKEA won't let you order for delivery more than two weeks in advance, but over the Fourth of July weekend we'll be installing a bank of new cabinets in my schoolroom.
I had trouble getting the handles to work in the online planner, and you have to imagine the countertop.
Isn't it delovely?
I'm especially excited about having countertop seating. Yes, I'm going to have to decrease the storage space in the schoolroom. But really, I keep too much stuff in there anyway, and I don't actually have a storage problem in my house -- I have school supplies in the walk-in pantry, extra art supplies on the coat closet shelf, and materials from past and future years on the bank of shelves in Mark's shop. I'm looking forward to streamlining a little bit and having more workspace. Most of what will be removed from the space is toy storage, which will find another home.
The leftmost "cabinet" is actually two 24-inch wide cabinets -- I only wish there was a single 48-inch wide one. It's deeper than my existing cabinets, countertop-deep. The 36"-wide base cabinet to its right could store things that little children are allowed to get out for themselves. The narrower base cabinet next to it will be one of those pull-outs with space for a trash can and a recycling bin. The far-right one I'll probably leave without shelves so I can slide big flat things in there -- dry erase boards, puzzles, whatever. The bigger wall cabinet will have shelves from side to side -- possibly a place to store Big Paper. And the small open wall cabinet will have five shelves in it -- one for each child -- to hold his or her "in-basket" where I toss things we want to save, the basket that I put in order and store at the end of each year.
Obviously it won't look so spare when in use. I'll hang a big dry erase board on each of the high-cabinet doors. And the children's school desks will have to stay. And my countertop will inevitably become cluttered with charging laptops and microscopes. And someone will write in crayon on the cabinets.
And someday, it will all need to be repurposed, or else demolished and turned into something else.
But that someday is quite a long way off, I hope (my youngest is two, and I enjoy homeschooling) so I think it will be well spent. I'm already wishing I'd done it years ago.
What do you think?