September 13, 2011

(not) scheduled

Homeschooling is an interesting little fish. I've been wondering what the results would be if some kind of study was done on homeschooling parents to see if they tended to be a certain type of person. I'm not talking about the reasons they have for homeschooling, more of what their personal style of getting things done.
In case you hadn't guessed, I'm a type A kind of girl. Shocked? No, I didn't think you would be. While I've mellowed considerably since having children - for example, I no longer own a lablemaker, so my house is not neatly and uniformly labeled anymore. I think I may have worn it out in the end and then Will refused to let me have a new one. It was getting out of hand anyway. I didn't actually ever label my husband, but the thought crossed my mind- I'm still pretty organization-oriented-need-things-my-way most of the time. I love lists. I love schedules.

Which makes homeschooling, or at least homeschooling as I'd like this year to be, a little...interesting. My gut instinct is to set up our weeks in a nice,regulated, organized way. Scheduled out just the way my classroom was. And homeschooling can certainly be like that. But between two homeschooling yahoo groups, Mommy Poppins and just living in this city, there are amazing, once in a blue moon opportunities to be had every single day. There is a part of me that wants to just chuck any kind of structured learning and just go and then there is the other side that wants to have field trips on Mondays and a regular pace of subjects on the other days. Somewhere in there I need to find a balance that makes this year interesting and exciting but also at least partially routined. Because even though he would tell you he dislikes routine, Briton is also schedule oriented. He works best when he knows what's coming.

Yesterday we took the subway allllllll the way across Brooklyn (yes, I know, Brooklyn is part of New York City, but it's also big and wide and getting from the top of Manhattan to the bottom of Brooklyn takes three transfers and more than an hour) to take a tour of the Harbor Defense Museum, located just under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at Fort Hamilton. The Fort has been active continuously since the days of the War of 1812, so it's an oldie, and a key part of the history of New York.

I didn't know it even existed until I saw an announcement about the tour on Sunday. In this instance it fit neatly into both my history plans (Early Settlement of New York to the Revolution this fall) and my schedule (Field Trips on Monday) and was the perfect outing as it was attended exclusively by nine and ten year old boys. Go figure. The tour was capped off with a musket loading lesson care of the show Mail Call which had the boys on the edge of their seats and the mothers staring wide eyed at the crazy shouting man on the screen.

In addition to the tour, we used the two plus hours on the subway to read the next chapter in a book, ask and answer comprehension questions and work on some math puzzles. We also spent the hour before we left for our trip working on some silly writing prompts (care of this fantastic book) in a cafe.

It was a great day. A fantastic day. Math, history, reading, writing, plenty of exercise as we sprinted from the subway station to Evelyn's school to pick her up in the nick of time. But also looked NOTHING like the schedule I planned last week.
It's going to be a balancing act, this year. More than I realized. And busy. By the end of the day I was more exhausted than I think I ever was teaching in a classroom. But I also had more fun than I ever had in my teacher days. Not all days can consist of Rocket Math on the D train and a tale about a toe shaped hat in a cafe. If they were I think we'd both be burnt out by Christmas, but that tendency to say, "no, it's not in the schedule" is going to have to get shelved, because tomorrow there might be a once in a lifetime chance to hear a favorite author speak downtown or feed the monkeys at the Bronx Zoo or parachute off the Empire State Building (Ok, probably not that. I'm afraid of heights). And while math is important and all, eh, it's math, you can do that any old time. But you can't always feed monkeys. Right?