Starting Our Homeschool Year at the Speed of Life

Since most kids in our area start school on August 1, we planned to do the same. As the appointed date approached, however, we were overwhelmed with craziness. Returning from a fun weekend in the mountains, we dealt with a bug infestation in our home. An itchy rash on my arms turned out to be my first ever case of poison ivy. In addition, our kitty, Paul, was behaving strangely, prompting multiple vet visits and treatment for diabetes. With all that was going on, should we start school anyway or wait until life calms down?

The First Two Days of School

Amidst the ongoing chaos, starting a full homeschool schedule August 1st was impractical. Instead, we began the year with just one subject. Since the girls had already been reviewing Algebra 1 for the last few weeks using CTCMath, I assigned my high schooler more of the online diagnostic tests they provide. Meanwhile, the twins began started Saxon Algebra 2, as planned. We made it fun by using the whiteboard for our practice problems.

Life skills took center stage for my high schooler as she learned how to give insulin injections. She also created a resume and applied for her first job.

As the week came to a close, more challenges arose. During a routine trip to the library, my ankle twisted, and I lost my footing. Slipping off the curb, I landed hard, scraping my left knee on the asphalt. The injury may resemble a smiley face, but my knee was far from happy.

Thankful that my injuries were minor, I limped into our first full week of school while my husband left the country on a business trip.

Entering Week 2

Given the circumstances, the idea of a full class schedule was still too overwhelming to consider. I decided to have the kids continue with Algebra and add one more subject.

On Monday morning, the twins and I picked up where we had left off in May with the Sonlight Eastern Hemisphere curriculum. As the girls ate breakfast, I enthusiastically read aloud from Shadow Spinner, a story that takes place in Arabia when the Sultan was killing every one of his queens. The newest queen, Shahrazad regaled him with the tales of the Arabian Nights in an attempt to prolong her life. Masterfully pausing each story at a suspenseful moment, she succeeded. Shadow Spinner centers on a crippled girl of the era who idolizes Queen Shahrazad and loves to spin stories of her own. After achieving her dream of meeting the queen, the crippled girl is brought into the harem to help Shahrazad prepare for her midnight storytelling sessions.

Closing the book at the end of the scheduled reading, I assigned the twins to read Ali & the Golden Eagle. The book relates the true story of an American’s adventures in a remote Saudi Arabian village while working in a nearby town. Befriending the village chief’s son, Ali, he learns about falconry and obtains a golden eagle chick for Ali to train.

Rather than printing out full assignment sheets as I usually do, I perched the Sonlight Instructor Guide on our still-cluttered table. The twins could refer to the chart for their Sonlight assignments—learning about the Middle East from an encyclopedia, praying for cities like Mecca, and reading a small poem.

My high school daughter is spending much of her time this week practicing embroidery and making friendship bracelets. Occasionally pausing from these pursuits, she continued to prove her Algebra 1 skills and has signed up for an online graphic design class to help her build skills for the job she wants to have. She is also compiling a list of books to read for literature credit this year.

Finding Peace in the Chaos

The gentle start to our school year is exactly what we all need. While allowing the girls more free time, it helps me to regroup and recover from this summer’s surprises.

Struggling to keep a positive outlook amid trials, I’ve been leaning heavily on the Lord. While engaged in mundane tasks like laundry and dishes, I listen to uplifting Christian music. I set aside time each morning to read the verse of the day on my Bible app. Often, I extend the short reading into a chapter or more of Scripture. I’ve found encouragement and comfort through in Philippians, Colossians, and John 14-17. Such passages often lead me into prayers which echo the words of Scripture.

With a fresh sense of peace, I am learning new things too. Relaxing on the sofa with ice on my sore knee, I am watching sessions from the Keto Edge Summit to learn how the Ketogenic Diet can help with weight loss, energy, and brain performance. Each day, I also take 20 minutes or more to learn new Chinese words using Duolingo.

Our Main Curriculum: Life

Three weeks ago, I thought I had our schoolyear planned out. Life threw a wrench into my plans, but that’s ok. While I’ve been weathering these late-summer storms, God has revealed our primary curriculum this year—the everyday situations we encounter. The academics, though important, are secondary.

Moving forward, I am prayerfully re-examining my plans for the year. What subjects are essential? Which ones can we save for later? What’s missing? Is there anything I’ve already scheduled which we should drop altogether?

It is hard to predict what situation we will face next, but I can prepare our family by including the kids in day-to-day tasks. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and pet care all provide valuable learning opportunities that help my girls prepare for their future. When the next curveball comes our way, we’ll face it together, learning as we go.

Have you encountered an unexpected situation that presented a unique learning opportunity for your student? Please share in the comments.