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    Seven Quick Takes: Rambling about Life, Answering Your Questions, and More!

    August 1, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
    — 1 —

    Yesterday, we had one last summer hurrah. Friend R. and I took all of our children {ahem can you say THREE five-year-old boys??} to Avila Beach for the day. Avila is just about my favorite place in all the world. And the waves are usually on the small side, which means we don’t have to worry so much about the lifeguard having to pull them out — a nice thing, when we don’t have the dads with us, especially.
    I didn’t think about it as being our big end-of-summer thing, but it turns out, that’s what it is. We don’t have anything else Big planned, and I need to spend most of my days for the next two weeks working on school prep.
    This was the first time I recall taking all of my children out of town without my husband ever. I mean, Friend R. was with me, but together we have too many children for one vehicle, so I drove. By myself. Out of town. That just isn’t something I do. But I did it. It was so much fun. I want to do it again next year!

    — 2 —

    Let’s talk about Swedish Drill. Because you asked. Just to clarify: I’ve never done it before. I could very likely fail at this. A few years ago, I put it on the chart. I read part of the book. I quit before trying. I just wasn’t there yet. But my interest has been piqued again, mostly because Kathy keeps tying it to Brain Gym and noting how similar the two are.

    So I looked through the book again. I decided that really it might be as simple as teaching the different positions, and then asking them to move from one to another. I think before I was turned off by the military feel of it. But I decided that just as the ugly dresses and bad hair are optional, the tone probably depends upon the teacher. So I’m going to think of it like a really low-impact aerobics class. Or something.

    I’ll let you know more in a year or so.

    — 3 —

    I wouldn’t call my planning late, but it isn’t early either. It’s not like I’m usually up at midnight the night before school, in a panicked frenzy. I usually time it where I finish a few days before school starts. We have a pleasant weekend together, and then begin. It takes a few weeks to plan because I still read aloud, cook meals, and do laundry and stuff. I was thinking about why I do it this way. I never thought about it before, but this year I saw so many blogs discuss planning in June or early July.

    There are two reasons why I do it differently. The first is that I feel like we have to have the local conference done before I can think. So I order my books before the conference, but that’s about it. But second, I think that it’s as simple as the fact that planning gets me excited for school. It’s when I gain my vision for the year. If I get it done in early summer, all that passion and interest is frittered away, and by the time I revisited my plans, I would likely have forgotten the reasoning behind some of them. Much better {for me, anyway}, so plan and then act only a few days later.

    — 4 —

    I did something totally different for my planning this year, and I have Nicole to thank for it. If you haven’t watched her CM planning video yet, or read the whole series she wrote, you are missing out.

    Each year, I create a 36-week spreadsheet for each student. I have a tab for each week, and the Ambleside Online assignments spread out from there. I don’t use the AO charts because {1} I like my pretty weekly spreadsheets, and {2} what I make is less confusing because it only includes what the children are actually doing in individual lessons — I take out all the things I’ve combined in Circle Time, for example.

    In the past, I’ve just added the reading assignments, and been done with them. This year, I’m not doing that. Instead, I’m trying an almost totally time-based schedule. So, for example, a slot will have the book name, and then in parenthesis it’ll have the number of minutes I want the whole thing to take {including narration}. I feel pretty confident in doing this because I did this for a number of things last year, and we actually did more in a day than we’d done when we focused on reading a certain number of pages.

    Counter-intuitive, I know.

    In order to create my weekly spreadsheets, I started with a template of what the week should look like, with subject names and minutes for each slot. {I’ll probably share this here on the blog next week.} From there, I am plugging in book names. I think this will work brilliantly.

    On the other hand, I might return and repent come next year. We’ll see!

    — 5 —

    AO‘s science had some switches this year. The absolutely fantastic science team debuted the first year of what will end up being a six-year program for the upper school years. My problem? Some of what we did this past year for Year Six was moved to Year Seven! In general, this is a good thing. I think the new way will work much better for my upcoming students. The questions remained about what to do for this particular student. At the advice of Jeanne, I simply moved Mystery of the Periodic Table, a new Year Six book, to Year Seven. We haven’t done that one, and I’ve only heard good things about it.

    — 6 —

    I actually wrote a post on scheduling — and how form brings us freedom — for Scholé Sisters. It’ll be up in a couple weeks, I think. Right on time for the implementation of our new school schedule, I presume. I’m sort of excited about it. It’s one of those posts that just came pouring out of me, you know?

    Projects, projects…What are you working on? I feel like the end of summer is a time of hustle and bustle…

    And that is all for this Friday. I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

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