- As you've seen on this blog and my older ones, every year I start by planning in outline form the next school year -- you can see some of what I've done so far on my sidebar. Basically, I'm done with that now except for some details.
- As we get deeper into the summer, I am in the habit of going on a personal combined spiritual/educational retreat. So it's something like a homeschool conference with myself (I've never actually been to a real one, though I've conferenced with a friend) and something like the Ignatian retreat that Kolbe recommends to begin the school year. I try to examine my present practices and rearrange my priorities so I can better grow closer to God in His Holy Will.
- During this time I usually read several books about education to refresh my vision and I often end up posting more than usual on my customary message board and egroup haunts as I try to work things through. That's what's happening now and why the blog is flooded with long educational posts.
- While I'm thinking I usually struggle with several Big Questions. This year I seem to be thinking about Compulsion, and about Classical Education, the value of the classics in their original languages, and about true feminity in the heart of Mary and how I can better live that out. (I am sensing I have some growing to do there -- I know it's not something I have talked about much on here before so I will try to expand on it some other time).
- In light of what I decide in regard to those things I will list some goals. Not so much the standard ones naturally associated with the curriculum ("student will learn to add numbers with sums up to ten") as much as what I'd like to see my life and work with my family look like.
- Then I choose a particular saint as the "patron" for that year. I've done that for the last several years. My very first year as a homeschooler I dedicated my homeschool particularly to Our Blessed Mother and this, my fifteenth year of homeschooling, or is it my sixteenth? I think I may want to do that again.
- Now we are coming towards the end of mid-summer, and I usually think through our habits and household arrangements more specifically and try to make them more conducive to what I want to see in our lives.
- During the last part of the summer, I usually plan some sort of retreat or theme to start off the school year with a good focus. I also devote the last part of the summer to being around my family, being "intentional", and observing them. If there are any summery things we haven't gotten around to, like trips, family visits and hanging around outside or catching up on yard work, this is the time. Finally, it's time to set the details of the fall schedule, which means I usually carry around a clipboard with my notes on them for several days or weeks until I have it more or less internalized.
So there it is, the process.
Another Big Question I've been dealing with is: Am I taking too much time on this "retreat" I mentioned? I was thinking about it -- I don't go to homeschool conferences or actual retreats. I am almost always here with my family, but am I really here if I'm thinking about other things so much (the house getting messy, meals sometimes late, and all that?). It makes me uneasy, and I tend to think it's not quite right, but I have a little internal puritan imp that sometimes poses as the voice of my conscience, so I'm not always sure. Anyway, I'm posing the question because it's been raised internally and I would like to find some peace on it, even if it means giving up something quite valuable.