Did you hear that pop?

That was the sound of my head exploding. On August 2, with just a couple of weeks left before school starts, I have finally come to the realization that this is going to be the fullest year yet. Of course, it’s doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to figure that out: with 5 in school this year, including a 7th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartener in the lineup, life is going to be busy. As I sit here and try to survey the materials of our new program and integrate the older method, this realization sweeps over me like a wave, and I am simultaneously excited and scared stiff at the thought of the 2010-2011 academic year.

This is our second year with a group called Classical Conversations. Last summer when we signed up (without having gone to any informational meetings or seen it in action thanks to the strong but loving pressure from my good friend and fellow homeschooler, to whom I’m now eternally grateful), I wrote the tuition check before even knowing what we were getting ourselves into. Because I had committed also to be a tutor for the group, Todd and I went to the CC practicum to learn more about this new-to-us philosophy. Throughout those three days, we knew that not only was this the direction we would like our homeschool to go, but that only God could have directed our steps and ability to find it. When I first started our homeschooling journey, the classical model appealed to me most, but like other things, after the almost continual addition of children, workbooks and worksheets slowly became the choice or necessity, depending on how you look at it. This was the chance to change gears and possibly reclaim some of the “lost tools of learning.” The trivium not only makes sense to me, but works as a model of education with proven results. Until CC, however, I just didn’t have the tools to implement it in our home with any degree of success. I have seen progress throughout the year in slowly shifting that paradigm, and I’m so thankful for it.

This year, we’ll continue our journey and take steps in uncharted territory. While five of the kids were in the earliest part of the program last year (known as the grammar stage or the time to amass knowledge), this year Hannah is entering 7th grade and will begin the Challenge program. For her, it will mean meeting with a class and a tutor one day a week and then doing her assignments at home the rest of the week. It is aptly named and will be a “challenge” for both of us, but of any of us, I believe it’s a challenge she is up to. I know the week will fly by and there will be Saturdays and Sundays where we wish we’d worked harder so that we didn’t have ‘crunch time,’ but I’ve heard repeatedly from other parents how far their children come in the span of a year and how much they’ve learned. That makes me want to put aside the fear and walk through it, remembering that we won’t be alone and that most of the time, the things that are the most difficult are also the most rewarding.

Patrick will be starting a new program too within CC that will fall under the same category: a lot of worthwhile work. I am so excited that there is a way to teach the essentials of the English language to children in a way that they enjoy it and retain it. As a self-proclaimed grammar nut, I lacked the tools to share my love of the subject with them and this is without a doubt the best program I’ve seen to teach them how our wonderful language works. What a skill they will have after going through it. I’m well aware that different people have many varied views of what education is at base, but I’m convinced at the deepest levels that there are certain “permanent things” that don’t ever change or lose value. I pray that my kids have some of that passed on to them.

Back in the foundations classes, Patrick, Brendan, Ben, and Andrew will be exposed to different subjects that we will learn about. This year I’m going to be the tutor for Andrew’s class, which will be 8 boys around the age of five. God certainly has a sense of humor and will most definitely teach me many things this year! I’m brushing up on my skills to keep boys moving as they work and will rely on my classroom moms for help at all times. I also expect to be blessed by our unique class and form special relationships that may continue for years to come.

So as I look over my notebook of this and my binder with that and try to put my materials in page protectors while hunting down my three hole punch that has gone missing and trying to come up with ways to keep a class of all boys (FIVE YEAR OLD BOYS!) entertained for 2 1/2 hours a week for 24 weeks, somehow, somehow it will not only be OK, but it will be glorious. I keep the end goal in mind as I sweat the small stuff and feel totally overwhelmed with the job before me. “Our children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured.”

And even though that may have been my head exploding in a thunderous pop, the pieces are all around here somewhere, so I’m going to try to gather them up and put them back together. I’m going to need them all!

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