The first nine weeks of our school year are all planned out, and we are about half way through completing them. This year we decided to try out block scheduling. With a block style schedule, some of the subjects alternate days and the kids have a chance to spend quality time with a particular subject or topic.
So far the block scheduling is going well. The older two still do Handwriting, Math and Religion every day. We chose to alternate days for English and Phonics, History and Science, and Spelling with Vocabulary for our oldest. For the younger three we condensed subjects into a few days for shorter assignments and alternate weeks for subjects such as history and science. Art, Music and Physical education have their own days.
We read from other homeschool families who started in late summer because it can be too hot to be outside. They shared that they found it helpful for the kids to have something productive to do inside, and there is more freedom to take days off when the weather is cooler. We thought this was a great idea, and our kids were excited to begin. The heat piled on this August, so it has been a great use of our time.
My wife continues to write out all the kid's lesson plans and keeps us organized. We work together in this way, where she does most of the organizing, to do lists and lesson plan writing. I do most of the teaching, and on the weekends, we check that everything is correct and completed. Oftentimes the kids have a few corrections to make.
Another way we worked together this year is we divided and read the books on my oldest's book report. I chose to read about St. Jean Marie Vianney and I was surprised at how his story affected me. He came from a family that often helped the poor and needy in the community. As a young boy, he was entrusted by his parents to help hide and protect Catholic priests who worked in secrecy during the French Revolution.
As a boy, a young man and a pastor in the village called Ars, it seems he was constantly facing adversity. When he was made Pastor, he was told there was little religion or love in the village and that it would be up to him to bring both. Through prayer, penance, Eucharistic adoration and the intercessions of the Blessed Mother and St. Philomena, he was able to bring love and religion to the village.
I connected with the story and life of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, because in a similar way, I see it as my vocation as a father and a husband to bring love and religion to our home. I noticed how St. Jean-Marie Vianney completely surrendered himself to God, and he knew that he must, in order to bring love and religion to the village entrusted to him. Reading about this great saint brought up emotions about losing our Noah last year and how I have leaned on God, family, personal prayer and the sacraments to work through much of the grief.
A spiritual director of mine used to ask me towards the end of a session what invitation I felt coming from God. Right now, I feel the invitation to make good plans for our school year, but to remember to write them in pencil and give God the eraser. We've made a block schedule plan, field trip plans, plans with other families, plans to finish earlier next spring, more planning to come, and all the planning can be an illusion that I'm in control. Inspired by St. Jean-Marie Vianney, I am asking him to help me keep my heart rooted in God this school year so that I can bring love and religion to my family as the Homeschool-Dad.