It's been a strange week. With half the family away and the older kids that were here being totally self-sufficient and busy with their own stuff I got a glimpse of what my post-homeschooling future (as little four years away - gulp) might be like. I'll certainly need to find find something meaningful to fill up the big hole in my life that's for sure. The freedom of this week has been great but in the long term I know I'd get totally bored.
I've spent plenty of time reading (finished Marisa de los Santos's Love Walked In and Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things plus read plenty of magazines and all the posts on a new-to-me blog) and gardening (once the rain stopped there was a lot of weeding to be done!). I deep cleaned my bedroom and also purged all my old recipe magazines (I have a bad habit of collecting them so it was past time to rip out those recipes I might realistically make and recycle the magazines - it was also time to resolve to try at least one new recipe per week so my box of "recipes to try"doesn't burst at the seams!). I spent a lot of time in the kitchen preparing for the hot summer temperatures I hope are coming ( ginger beer, redcurrant cordial, mango-orange ice-blocks and raspberry lemonade ice-blocks are all ready to go), not to mention making several homemade cleaners.I walked every day - something I used to do but for reason I got out of the habit. I also spent a lot of time of time thinking (much easier to do when it is quiet!), especially about how our family needs to change to accommodate the fact that we no longer have any children - they're all teens or young adults now. Mr 21 is even hoping to move out in the next couple of months - assuming he can find something which given our post-earthquake housing shortage will be very difficult. That'll be another big change for us to adapt to.
I also spent a lot of productive time planning for the coming homeschooling year. I spent one morning digging into the Big History Project and the associated course. I've got a PhD in history myself and this approach really appeals to me. I'm pretty sure Mr 16 will enjoy it since he's big picture kind of guy. It will also have him writing fewer essays than last year's history course. One of his comments in our year end chat was that he felt he could have produced better quality if he hadn't had to churn out so much quantity when it came to written work, especially essays.It'll be interesting to see if he is right. I'm not sure how Miss 13 will feel about Big History. I think she will regard the first sections as too "sciency" and I know she'd prefer more of a focus on how people lived their lives. However, I'd like them to work on this at the same time, if not necessarily together, so I'm still mulling over how to get her on board. If she's not keen I've got other ideas for Plan B.
I also narrowed down a list of possibilities for Mr 16 for science next year. For some reason science has always been the subject that has caused us most difficulty and I've never found anything that I've been 100% happy with, let alone anything that would also work for the next kid in line. Still I've got three or four possibilities that I think will work for Mr 16 so once he's home he can have a look and make his pick. Hopefully it works out better than last year's choice which he ended up hating and apparently not learning anything from - but he didn't tell me this until the year was over. Argh!
I gave our printer a good workout, printing out many of the bird ideas I have pinned, bookmarked and filed away for Miss 13. Although she knew about them I think it was a case of out of sight, out of mind. My thinking is that if she has a hard copy of everything in one place it'll be easier for her to develop her birding knowledge and to work more independently.
Speaking of birds I decided to recognise Miss 13's work this past year on her high school transcript. Here it is really only the final three years of high school (generally ages 15+) that "count" in terms of university admission and the like. With my three older kids I began keeping a transcript the year they would have entered high school (Year 9) but only recorded the work that I felt was equivalent to that which would be done in school Years 11, 12 and 13. Mr 21 was a science/maths whizz so in Year 9 his maths and science was recorded but not his language arts. Miss 13 would only be entering high school this month so I haven't yet started a transcript for her. But when I was updating Mr 16's I got to thinking, possibly inspired by this post by Jessica over at Teachable Moments, which has been rattling around in my brain ever since I first read it. Miss 13 has put plenty of hours into birding both in the field and through more traditional reading, writing and research activities. And I feel the level of work she's produced meets or exceeds that required in Year 11 Science. So her transcript now includes a credit for Ornithology 1. If her interest in birds continues, I've bookmarked Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Home Study Course in Bird Biology for 2015 or 2016. That will count as Ornithology 2. Certainly not typical courses for high school here - but one of the things I love about home schooling is the chance to craft a unique education.
Luckily this week has been full of down time for me. With Dh and Miss 13 arriving on Monday and Mr 16 coming back on Tuesday next week is going to be full of airport pickups and laundry!.