Monday, May 21, 2007

Summer Plans

Summer seems to be a good shuffling time. Since it's an interim between the end of this "school year" (funny how engrained that concept is) and the start of next fall, it seems reasonable to examine what is working in our household and what isn't.

For example, our chore system. For many years now the children have helped with household work. The system gets outdated fast though. A couple of years ago I had to consolidate five lists into four, because my oldest was going off to college. This year, I am seeing that the younger set of children could contribute something. So that is one thing that is on my list of things to look at and revise.

Of course, there is also their homeschool plans. This is something I like to ponder for a while before actually setting it down in stone. I think homeschoolers fall into similar categories as writers. I used to read writing books that said to outline your writing before you started. I am sure this works fine for lots of people. However, my children and I found it interesting to read that JRR Tolkien had only a vague plot map in mind when he started writing Lord of the Rings. For example, so we hear, Strider appeared basically out of nowhere as he wrote. Tolkien had meticulously prepared his terrain and history, he wrote and rewrote many times, and his resulting opus was carefully crafted.

The idea is that though he meticulously laid out his background, and carefully revised, he left himself some openness in the details of the plot progression, and I think some homeschoolers are the same. For example, I do a lot of thinking and list-making when I am planning, yet often I don't even use the lists. They are helpful though because they make the terrain familiar. The times I've tried to write detailed plans for the year, I've ignored them and it's been largely a waste of time. Better to jot down chronology-related notes like -- by January I'd like to be halfway through on this math book. I still often ignore them, but I don't waste so much time.

Another system -- our spatial organization. There are several sub-systems that need some work. Last year it was our book collection. I spent a lot of time going through them and categorizing them, and the work paid off -- now it's easy to reshelve them and I have a strong conception of where everything is, pretty much.

This year it's toys. Toys! Too many of them, and not organized, and some are outgrown and rarely if ever played with. My goal is different than it was with the books. Rather than classify and order, I want to sort and purge. I'll be tackling this a bit at a time, but my rather breathless hope/plan/dream is to get rid of about half of them, and put the rest into clearcut categories, like: Cars. Dice. Counters. Animals. Swords. Stuffies. Old Faithfuls I can't let go yet.

Half of them! IT makes me dizzy. I don't know if I can do it. But maybe if I think in terms of starting over, it will be easier.

We already have games and puzzles fairly well in order; ditto art supplies. My task with these, should I get around to it, is to inventory them and figure out some strewing schedule for next winter so they come out of closets more frequently.

The outside of the house needs plenty of work, which is not really worth writing out here. The plan for that is to work for a half hour several days a week. What happened when I did this to our nightmarish garage was that I whittled away at it until suddenly, voila! I saw the end in sight, and I dived in and spent a half day and got it finished!

I still have to consider the flow of time in this house, and how we do things in this time -- that is another thing I ponder during the summer, but that will be for another post.