It's simply amazing to me how fast we get from the looooong month of February to the first of May. I'm sitting here staring at a blank page, certain that next year's plans and curriculum and fresh ideas are here somewhere....Come on--this is the part I really love and I'm drawing a blank!
The kids are in the middle of their standardized testing this week: the younger ones in the Stanford Achievement and the older ones taking their college boards. Every time we do this, I wish I had results a lot sooner so they could be a help to me as I decide where our focus should be for next year. Is my fifth grader slow in math? Maybe we need a different book, or more flash cards, or more emphasis on fractions? Is my seventh grader bored with reading, ready for a whole new selection of literature? Did we pick a science curriculum that isn't working for any of us? Did we totally forget history this year? (One of the kids came home from the test and asked me, "Mom, what's the Emancipation Proclamation??" Gulp...)
But alas, by the time we get test results in mid-July or so, the plans for next year will be set in concrete, if wet concrete. Maybe that's God's way of sparing me from yielding to the temptation of basing everything on a test. I know this with my heart, but sometimes my head is way too concerned with a number or a percentile or a grade level than with how much my children are learning and whether they're integrating that knowledge into their wider world.
So...I sit here staring at my page, praying for some inspiration to design just the right combination for next year, one that will help us fill any gaps we've left but that will also give fresh viewpoints, creative new approaches, and a spark of fun to fuel it all.
A funny thing happened on the way to curriculum planning, by the way. As I normally do, I started by listing all the children's names, leaving space for broad categories of subject matter. And then I stared in disbelief: only four names? Whom did I leave off? I began reciting names in age order and it hit me--yes, only four this year! Nathan will don a cap and gown this month and close his homeschooling chapter, leaving us with two daughters and two sons yet to graduate. We, once again, downsize our little school and give thanks for the honor of launching one more young adult into his wider world.
Yes, it will happen to you too...perhaps many years down the road, perhaps just a few. Some of you will see your list get longer before it gets shorter, as the little ones around your table pick up their schoolbooks and start down the homeschool road with you. But one May day (and trust me, it's only a blink away), you'll look down at your planning pad and wonder whose name you've forgotten to write.
It's a bittersweet day.