Something about February makes me hate everything about my schedule. And that is why I am already thinking about next year.
Instead of making a spreadsheet right away, I got myself a fancy quad-ruled notebook and set up a little chart in it, with colored pens and rulers, for no particular reason. I wanted to see which kids -- including both mine and H's -- were going to be in which grade in which years.
Fun fact: In 2020-2021, between us, we will have four high schoolers: one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, and one senior.
I was thinking I'll teach civics again that year, because I can teach them all at once. (Physics I also.)
And I just now realized that will be the next election year.
I hope I am in a better mood about U. S. politics by then.
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I love co-schooling with H's family. It solves a lot of my problems. I am, however, having trouble seeing how to solve the problem of my lonely 7-year-old.
It is not his fault. It is just that, unlike any of the other nine children in our two families, he doesn't have a cohort. There is no primary-school-aged child in H's family: no one between the current 6th-grader and the three-year-old twins. And in my own family, there's a four-year gap on either side of him. Meaning that not only is he basically alone in elementary school, but he will spend his four years as the only high school student.
I realize that for many homeschooling parents this sounds like a dream -- just one high school kid to teach for four whole years! -- but I am used to a very group-centered experience, and it sounds lonely to me. Especially since the kid in question is absolutely the most outgoing and gregarious kid of them all.
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It's a long time before I really have to worry about exactly what I will do -- he is now a first-grader -- so I guess I will think about it later, only making a mental note to remain open to new and different possibilities for him. I'll be about fifty years old when he starts high school, which seems somehow farther away than "this child of mine will be fifteen," and I imagine many things will be different then. Already things are very different from how I imagined they might be, and I am different from what I imagined, eight years ago, when I was thirty-four.
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I think we will be juggling the order of some things around, because of the different grades our kids will be in. For a long time the school-age kids have been divided, mainly, into the "olders" and the "youngers." Our oldests are in the same grade, and so they have tracked along together. Our "youngers" are four fence posts, now in 5th-6th-7th-8th grade. The youngers took geography together, all are at the same level in middle school Latin, and (although for various reasons they use two different curricula) are going to converge in history eventually.
Next year we expect the two oldest high schoolers to spend at least some time taking college classes through PSEO, but I am hoping we can still make time for me to teach them Physics II and Latin IV.
I will start with proof-based geometry with the older of the youngers, the two boys who will be in eighth and ninth grade. They'll do both geometry and Algebra II at half pace for two years.
I will continue doing about a half-credit's worth of Latin with all four of those middle kids -- they'll be in 6th through 9th grade -- and the 9th grader will do some extra work, either more Latin stuff or something else, but not with me, to make the other half of that language credit. (I thought about it, but I am not up for doing two full credits' worth of Latin two days a week at two different levels. That would be three hours of oral Latin in a day, yo. My voice can hardly take it as it is.)
And then I am going to try like mad to bring my new second-grader into the world history class with the 6th and 7th grade girls. Even though they don't really need the personalized attention, we do that work as a read-aloud because it's fun and it lets us discuss the material; so he probably will be able to keep up, and might even be able to do the workbook if his sister helps him. (My eighth grader will keep on keeping on with the third year of the fairly independent history study.)
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Right now I am thinking about prioritizing, on our home days, having that seven-year-old work together with his older sister, even though she will be in sixth grade. I think I might choose a science lab kit that is aimed at lower elementary -- she is coming off of two years of a fairly rigorous science lab, with notebook and everything, and maybe she would enjoy having a little break and doing something that would be more "fun exploration with your younger sibling" and less "arguing about turn-taking and trying to keep up with your older sibling." I am thinking about throwing them together for art, religion, and readalouds, and letting her two-years-older brother -- whom she has been working with, and generating friction with, for years now -- have a little bit more distance from her.
All along I am guided by my philosophy that we are part of a family that learns together first, that it's balancing the needs of the family as a whole that has to happen from year to year, and that each individual has to give sometimes and take some times. I literally cannot optimize each individual child's education -- not overall and not in any one year. I can try to meet many goals for each child in a way that is adequate for all, and in which our whole family can -- one way or another -- thrive.
There are surprises around every corner, too. Best make room for them when they come.