That's a Wrap!

A little less than a year ago, I announced our change from the traditional northern hemisphere "school calendar" (i.e., September-May, with all of summer "off") to an academic calendar more closely aligned with what occurs in the southern hemisphere - that is, our "school year" would follow the calendar year, beginning in January and ending in December. I explained my rationale for the change and our particular plans here.

And now I'm pleased to note that we wrapped up our first year following the new schedule on Friday, December 7. Thus, we're now officially on our Christmas/Year-End Hiatus and will pick up formal academics again on Wednesday, January 2 - at which point I'll be the mother of two "6th graders."

Of course, in many ways that doesn't really matter. We've never worried about finishing all our books by a designated date - instead, we take things at a pace that makes sense for us to really learn the material at hand and then begin a new resource whenever the previous one is finished. It just so happens we'll launch into a new set of science books in January - and I decided to make a switch to Easy Grammar, which we'll also begin next month. However, we completed Volume 1 of our history series in early November and started Volume 2 the very next day. We also began a new math focus in November, and we're smack in the middle of our current composition program.

Similarly, I'm not a fan of the whole notion of "grade level," which is, at heart, an artificial construct of the institutionalized schools to group kids by chronological age for the benefit of the teachers. It doesn't reflect any meaningful information about any child's real level of knowledge and skill, and it means nothing in a homeschool setting, where each child is free to learn at her own pace, whatever that may be. So I use "grade level" designations mainly to give us a rough idea of the girls' expected graduation date - though that's subject to change to meet their actual needs as we move forward - and to give them a logical placement level for activities, such as Fine Arts Camp in the summer, that rely on traditional "grade level" semantics for organizational purposes. It's also nice to give the girls a sense of regular "rites of passage," though in January we'll emphasize the idea of a new academic term - an opportunity to renew our joint commitment to perseverance as learners - rather than their specific "grade level." In fact, given our marriage of "school year" to calendar year, it's natural to make such a renewal at the dawn of a new year.

I also purposely designed our calendar to give us three weeks off in December. We aren't exceptionally busy at this time of year, but even just the normal activities of the season - shopping and gift-wrapping, visiting Santa, getting a tree, cleaning and decking the halls at home, and perhaps a little baking - take time. And, more importantly, I wanted to insure that we focus on Jesus' Incarnation. So we'll be spending the next couple of weeks working on the girls' first-ever lapbooks, an Advent-themed project, taking time to enjoy the process instead of squeezing it in amongst regular academics.

Not surprisingly, the girls are also planning for lots of playtime - their imaginations continue to astound me - and we'll be making a significant bedroom change the week after Christmas, so they'll likely spend a good deal of time getting their things ready for the move. As for me, I've still got the little ones for whom I babysit coming until just before Christmas, but I'm hoping to find some chunks of time throughout the next three weeks to make some progress on my scrapbooking. I'll also be launching an important personal wellness project later this week - getting a jump start on the new year. And then, before we know it, it'll be January!


Homeschooling6 said...

I have wanted to do a school year where we can take all of Dec. and part of Jan. off but hubby prefers the traditional route (sigh).

Josh will start EG in Jan. too.

Q said...

Isn't it fabulous?!

I'm with you, always laugh when someone asks, "What grade are you in?" Even my sons now say, "We don't work by grades, we're 13 and we are where we are."

Ahh . . . freedom . . . LOVE IT!

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