Monday, May 18, 2015

Middle School Monday - Nearing the Finish Line

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Welcome to Middle School Monday! For those of us following a traditional school calendar, the end of the year is in sight. It's exciting and encouraging in many ways, but it can also bring some anxiety, especially if our middle school student will be a high school student next year. I'm definitely looking forward to next year, and my mind keeps drifting to plans for Grade 9 (and Grade 11/12 for my son), but let's face it - we've got to finish this year first! And we've got to finish well.

Deal with Distractions - This is the thing that derails our plans more than any other. As warmer weather and longer days come around, our calendar starts to fill up with cookouts, campouts, grad parties and the like. It becomes tempting to let schoolwork slide because we want to enjoy those fun things. I like to think we can have fun and relax our schooling expectations but still stay on task. We try to plan our weekly schedule to accommodate the breaks for having fun, but with an eye to how we'll adjust so that we don't neglect school. Later this week, for example, my kids are planning to go camping, which will mean a couple of days that they won't be doing school. So are they willing to put in some extra time on the days before they leave, and on the weekend when they get back? If we can plan to double up math lessons on Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday and Thursday can be freed up.
Nearing the Finish Line (Middle School Monday link-up) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
What MUST be done? - I like to check the boxes and get through the whole book. It's the same mindset I have when I go to a sporting event - I don't understand how people leave before the end of the baseball game or hockey game, no matter what the score is. If I paid for a ticket to see a hockey game, I want to see all three periods of the game, and overtime too! And when I chose this Science curriculum, I expected that we would do the entire curriculum. Realistically though, sometimes close IS good enough. Public schools rarely finish the entire textbook. See what needs to be done. Lay it out and make a plan to cover what must be done for you to consider the course 'Complete' and see if there are parts of it that can legitimately be set aside. Either do them later on a more relaxed schedule, or skip them entirely. Kennady isn't finished her entire Science text for this year, but she has completed two related unit studies that we reviewed, so there are definitely chapters in the text that we can now leave out (or just skim) because it's been covered. She has a couple of books left in her Lit reading list, but she's read lots of books that weren't for school, so I'm going to say "Good enough" when she finishes the book she's in now. Besides, the time might be better spent working on Math, where she's behind the pace.

Prepare the Portfolio - Our state requires that someone from our oversight group looks through a sample of student work to ensure that we did, in fact, cover the subject areas and educate regularly over the year. It's actually easy and fun, because in our group, the people looking at our portfolios are fellow homeschool moms and a friends. We do keep each other accountable, but we also learn from and encourage each other. Sometime in the next several weeks, I will pack up a crate of work samples and meet with my reviewer. We usually 'meet in the middle' since we live on opposite ends of our county, so it means getting a sample of schoolwork together that gives a good overview of what we've done, but doesn't require me to hire movers to carry it all!  Going through and selecting portfolio items, deciding what we'll keep, what we'll toss at the end of the year, and what we can pass on to other homeschoolers is part of the end-of-year process, and one that helps us see what we have already done, and what we should prioritize before that appointment.
Nearing the Finish Line (Middle School Monday link-up) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
 Rewards! - Celebrate completed work with the campouts or parties, or by a quick outing for milkshakes, or whatever is a treat for me and my kid! Funny how when I promise we'll go out for ice cream when Kennady has finished the assigned Geography work, she gets a little extra motivation to finish sooner rather than later!
Nearing the Finish Line (Middle School Monday link-up) on Homeschool Coffee Break @
Is the end of your school year in sight? How are you finishing well? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Annette said...

Excellent ideas here. take a lot of pressure off to know you don't have to do
everything and as long as you basically have it covered... it's covered. :)

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