Monday, August 8, 2016

{Mixed Bag} :: Summer 2016 + Planning


I was fortunate to have been able to attend AmblesideOnline's Deep in the Heart of AO Conference this past May and be blessed by inspirational sessions with AO Advisory (like Donna-Jean's referenced here. Purchase a copy of all uploaded plenaries here!) ... as well as by a few chats with new, real-life friends. 

with Amy
with Dawn & Jen

One realization that hit me hard was that these people with kids my children's ages seemed to be much better about not only spreading a tasty educational feast before them, but also much more practical in the use of their time on lessons. During this term, I felt we were on a downward spiral, headed toward a catastrophic crash and burn. I realized I was trying to do too much, but didn't know how to cut back. I needed to spend some time focusing on this issue and be ok with not doing it all.

The Monday following the conference I was needed in completing a project here at camp by the end of the week that required lots of my time and effort. Enter "Bare Bones Schooling". I had no time to pre-read lessons or prep printed schedules. (It was that crazy!) Thus I began writing assignments in personal spiral notebooks on a day-to-day basis, which the kids said they actually liked better! Basically I assigned two readings, math, copywork, free reading, piano practice, a cleaning chore and outside play during this season.


Summer camping season was officially underway and my husband's work schedule, as usual, changes drastically so his "weekends" were days like Tuesday-Wednesday or the like, therefore affecting when we did lessons. In addition, Alice participated in volleyball camp:

Royal's 10th birthday was this month:

And there were a few planned activities with friends. My goal of finishing up the term by the end of the month was effectively pushed back. (I think all these outside events was God telling me to chill out and be more flexible!)


We were able to get away for 3 days (a rarity in summer!) during the 4th of July.

In addition, Royal attended a basketball camp, all kids enjoyed a week of Vacation Bible School, the two oldest went to RA and GA Camp (here at our facility) AND I went through a week-and-a-half of Lifeguard/CPR/First Aid/AED certification.

It's been a long time since I have had to attend class, study and take tests. I am exhausted!

We did finally finish our term on July 16 and I have seriously been re-grouping and re-evaluating how I schedule and organize lessons and general daily routines. I have appreciated Kathy Livingston's posts here, here and here (there are more if you want to rummage around in her organization posts) on how she works through her scheduling. I have taken that basic idea and translated it into something workable for our family. Basically I went through the entire term's selections and broke them into daily, manageable readings. (Each "O" is a reading session, taking anywhere from 10-20 minutes each, including oral narrations)

**Keep in mind we school 4 days per week to leave a day for Nature Study, Spanish class with friends and piano lessons.

Royal's Year 4, Term 3:
Royal has no more than 12 independent readings per week. I did a tiny bit of shuffling to ensure he stays at (or under) 3 independent readings per day.
At the end of each day we select one of the "Reading Rotation with Mom" listings.

Alice's Year 2, Term 3:
Alice has no more than 9 readings per week. She still depends on me to read everything to her.
A small amount of shuffling ensures she stays at (or under) 3 readings per day.

I also was initially inspired on including Morning Basket work from Jennifer and Celeste. The idea is beautiful. It brings us all together to learn as a family and is also a great way to help schedule for peace and unity. I am going to try Morning Basket in two separate sessions next term: 

Morning Basket I:
Utilizing "Loop/Rotation" readings and activities, we should stay at 6-7 per day during this Morning Basket block.
I imagine the poetry reading will get included with our Snack Time most likely.

To make it a bit easier in prepping for the next Spanish lessons/themes, I prepared a chart that I have printed to jot down ideas for various components of the language learning process (vocabulary, series, videos, stories, songs, activities and then copywork selections).

Morning Basket II:
This is the looping portion of our Morning Basket.
Combining Parables from Nature, Trial & Triumph and a Shakespeare play (to be done Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on a rotation),
I can include Alice's Term 2 Parables we didn't get to and also begin to work on Shakespeare together instead of separately.

Finally, I have taken Brandy's and Celeste's Average Day Chart helps and referred to them as templates in coming up with one for our family. At this point in time, I would LOVE an Average Day!!! I long for this, but perhaps God wanted to turn me upside down and shake all the un-necessary junk out of my pockets so we could get back to a more meaningful, less burdensome educational journey.

And to finish out the month:

A little pickling using our garden produce...

...and a trip to the aquarium.

Now to finalized preparations for our upcoming family vacation.


  1. Hey - that's me! What a wonderful time that was. Already seems too long ago.

    Wow! There is so much helpful goodness in this post I don't know where to begin. However, I will end by saying that I am very excited that your family vacation will be bringing you to our neck of the woods. Soon!!

  2. This looks great! It does get to be a juggling act the more kiddos in the schooling mix. The average day (I call it my Daily Flow) is so helpful to visually see if what is in the mind can actually happen in the day. I started that last year, maybe year before, I cannot remember. But it was such a HUGE help. I like how you put Map Drills in your MT. That's the first time I've seen that before. This is year 7 of doing MT for our family and it is everyone's favorite part of "school." Just out of curiosity, what is Birds on your MT schedule under memory work?

    1. Ack! Virginia Lee, I am so sorry I never responded. Hopefully you will get this reply! Things have been so crazy busy around here. Well I am glad that you stopped by and left a comment. And to answer your question about "Birds" on my schedule, this is where we review names of birds by looking at a picture and/or play a birdsong for the kids to identify which bird it belongs to. We just stick to birds we have in our area right now :-) Hope y'all are doing well!