I feel like I’m in a constant state of recalibrations as a parent. The house and the homeschool are this incredibly complex, busy, multifaceted machine and it’s my job to constantly oil it, take readings, and generally do whatever tinkering engineers do on fancy machines.
Take our schedule and routine. We started the year with little whiteboards for each boy that had a list of all the things we might do in a week, from copywork to a page in a workbook to watch a documentary. At the start of the week, I would put little boxes next to all the tasks and we would slowly check everything off. Worked great for a couple of months. Then it was time for a recalibration. I relabeled things on the little boards and would start the day by putting the boxes to check off. Much more manageable. Worked great. And then… it fell by the wayside because it was less great. The other day, I peeled off the task labels so I could use the boards. Time to recalibrate. Lately, if we’re having a really full school day I list much more specific tasks on the easel board. We need the checklists a little less in part because starting the day with our morning work routine gets us going.
Right now, I am loving the morning work. I leave out simple things like math drills and grammar practice sheets. I leave out more complex things like Wakeruppers pages and math puzzles. I also leave out creative assignments like art challenges. Will we still be doing morning work in a year? Honestly, who knows. It might have to be recalibrated.
The latest recalibration was that I realized we had drifted away from doing enough for language arts and writing. We have still been at the poetry teas and have been plugging away at dictations, but we haven’t been as consistent with anything as I would like. This is in part because we were playing with introducing All About Spelling to our routine and letting spelling be a big focus for Mushroom for the last couple of months. Not a big deal. We were like an old clock losing time. I just needed to recalibrate.
One thing I’ve been trying to get back to especially is doing more narrations. Mushroom wrote this one about butterflies and I think it’s his best writing for a narration yet (spelling and capitalization corrected, but nothing else changed):
First, the mother butterfly flies across the sky. Eight hundred eggs come out of her or more. All the eggs fall on different leaves. As the eggs grow up they shed their skin. They turn very colorful with yellow and black stripes. The larva can only eat milkweed at this stage. Milkweed has poison in it that they can eat. When they eat a lot of it other creatures that eat them get poisoned.
The time has come to make the chrysalis. The butterfly makes a chrysalis. At the top, there’s a silkmat. Below the top there is a cremaster that sticks the chrysalis on to the tree. The caterpillar changes into a butterfly.
I am always glad to recalibrate. I feel like we’re always in search of that right balance with enough rigor, enough free time, enough fun projects, enough boring math practice, enough field trips, and so on and so forth. It will, of course, never be perfect, but that’s okay. As long as we keep tinkering and recalibrating instead of stagnating, then I assume the machine will just on humming along.