But....here I am and I am still alive after our first morning back to school. That feels good to say. There were good and bad moments, fun and frustrating moments, wacky and weird moments. Nothing out of the ordinary :)
So what does it take to get our large family "Back to School?"
Even though we homeschool there is a lot of prep work to get us off and running for the year.
This year, we are schooling 5 students with 2 tag-a-longs, from 6th grade down to an 11-month-old. We have strong readers, new readers and non-readers. We have good time managers and those that need to be kept on task. We have toddlers who want to do school but eat the crayons and tear up papers! There's never a dull moment over here at St. Augustine Academy.
Getting ready for school is a lot of fun but it does get more daunting for me as the older students move into the more intense years of schooling. I find myself diving in a little bit more each year as I try to make sure that each student's learning style is accommodated in some fashion and that I take individuality into account.
Us homeschoolers love a good "back to school" sale just like the rest of the world. So with cash in hand and a list a mile long, off we went to Walmart. My folks gave the kiddos a little bit of spending money to buy their own "special" supplies (like designer folders, pencil pouches, etc.) and the rest of the necessary supplies were left to me.
This is the time of year that I stock up on Crayola crayons and markers, loose leaf paper, notebooks, pencils, index cards, glue sticks, etc. The name brand stuff is cheaper than usual and in the case of crayons (which are a necessity here) are much better quality. We also had to get shoes, socks and undies for several kiddos.
That trip to Walmart was nothing less than chaos, but I lived to write about so it wasn't too bad!
We are enrolled in Kolbe Homeschool Academy, so the basic lesson plans are all done for me. This is a life saver. The time consuming part is getting all the information into a format that helps the kids succeed at getting everything done. The actual lesson plans have a student part and a teacher part, but from a visual standpoint can seem overwhelming to some of my kiddos. So last year, I made charts, just a simple 8 or 9 by 5 grid that I fill in with the necessary info, done by subject. This way, the kids are only seeing what they need to see and it gives them something tangible to cross off. (That part is most gratifying to me because I love crossing off to-do lists!)
This new method of displaying assignments also helps my kiddos adjust easily to the days when we don't get everything done. They just don't move on in a subject until the first box is checked off, then the second, etc.
This has been an area of laxity on our part recently, but we're trying to hit the ground running with it this year. We feel that having a uniform helps set school apart from the rest of our day. The kids recognize that school is unique, that it's important.
Since our mascot is the "Martyrs" (as in those who've lost their lives for loving our Lord) red is our school color. We have the kiddos wear red shirts and nice pants/skirts. This year, we were gifted some nice school polo shirts in navy and white, so we expanded our color scheme! After all their school work is done, the kids can change clothes - saving the uniform for the next day if need be.
Needless to say, we have a lot of red, navy, and white tops along with khaki bottoms floating around our house. I will say that it does help the kids (girls and boys) take their work more seriously.
Our dining room table has traditionally been the hub of our school. I sit at one end of the table with those in most need of me very close by and the others the opposite end. I will say that after schooling for only one day so far, we will have to do some rearranging. Between the 7 kiddos, myself and all the books and supplies the one table just isn't big enough. We've already pinned Grandma down to borrow an extra small table, which will help with overcrowding.
I'll post an update about that another time.
Schooling a large family isn't necessarily more difficult than schooling a smaller family, it just takes a little more planning and time to meet everyone's needs.
And on that note, my current need is a brain rest, so I'm going to sign off for today. I hope to see you back here tomorrow.