July 31, 2017
Posted By: Bunny Foo Foo
WRITTEN BY JAZMIN R. PRICE, CPM
My kids are home-schooled. They “do school” year-round, which complements my work schedule. Each month we focus on school assignments and lessons two weeks on and two weeks off. When I am working at the birth center and on-call for births, we focus on spending time together without the pressure of assignments and reviews.
Like every other Bozeman family, mine enjoys spending summer days in the beautiful outdoors. It seems we can’t soak up enough sun. My kids wake up and we head outside, often eating breakfast through dinner at our picnic table. The warmth of the summer days calls us to move the classroom outside. If you come by during school time, you will probably find us lounging on blankets in the sun, working on tans and learning algebra or verbs.
Even with a year-round schedule we tend to slow down in the summer and I begin to look toward September, the official beginning of the new school year. I spend July and August, reviewing what we have learned during the past 10 months and deciding what next year’s subjects and goals will be. This year I will have a high school freshman, a seventh-grader, a fifth-grader, a third-grader, a kindergartner and preschooler. We usually do not follow traditional grade levels, but they do help set a course for the young learners in our home.
I have begun the momentous task of planning next year’s schooling. I do not focus on daily lesson plans, but rather use weekly and monthly goals as our guidelines. I find that broader goals provide us with the flexibility our life needs.
How do I do this? Well, I gather all the current textbooks, workbooks, online lessons and the literature list (my kids have 100 works of literature they must read before they graduate) and surround myself, on the couch, with them all. I then open each one, determine how much we have left and see what’s the next text in the series. Then I chat with the kids about the text, how they like it, what they are learning and then decide if it meets our needs. If it does, then I find end-of-the-year goals and break them down into 12 one-month increments. If the text is not meeting our needs, I look for a different text or method.
Once the foundation is set, I then begin filling in their free time (do you know what that is? I think I heard about it once) with electives and extracurricular activities: girl scouts, boy scouts, drama, fencing, art, American Sign Language, German and sleep.
After all of my writing, sorting and planning, the kids start getting excited about the coming year and so do I, despite exhaustion and a few too many paper cuts. The next step? Buying the supplies. This entails a trip to a chain store, where I will put six of everything into my cart. Yes, six of everything. My husband used to complain, “Why did you buy six pairs of safety scissors?” But after one year of homeschooling the kids himself, he now understands why we need six pairs. Everyone has their own set of everything.
By the end of the year, the crayon bucket is full of bits and nubs, the play dough is a bit on the hard side, all of the construction paper has snowflakes cut out of it and the pencils’ erasers are all worn away. I come home with brightly colored paper, erasers, fresh crayons and hope.
What can’t be found in the plastic bags I bring home are my dreams for my kids. I have often said I am not homeschooling them in preparation for college; I am hopefully preparing them for life. And my dream is to teach them to become amazingly productive, compassionate members of our society. What I can’t write in the year’s plan are the conversations that will spring up as we discuss feminism, racial equality, ethics and current politics. These are some of the most important lessons I will teach them. They will start with the literature, math and science lessons and progress to the “Why?” “How?” and “Who?”
As I prepare for the next school year, I am thinking about algebra but dreaming about where the lesson will take my children, what will excite them and ignite their passion and what will open their eyes to who they are becoming.
Jazmin Price, founder and creator of The Motherhood Bozeman, is a Certified Professional Midwife at the Bozeman Birth Center, a Certified Lactation Counselor and works for the Midwives College of Utah. She is also a wife to an amazingly patient partner and mother to 6 wild children.