Like a lot of things in life, homeschooling has a rhythm to it; a cyclical pattern that follows the seasons. Obviously this plays out differently for different families, but I've found over the last few years that there is a typical pattern in how the year flows. It goes something like this:
Late summer: Anticipation
She's done all the planning and prepping and researching. She's ordered her curriculum and books and resources. A cup of freshly sharpened pencils adorns the table, the crayons haven't been broken and there's a stack of fifty-cent composition notebooks on the bookshelf. Heck, she doesn't even know what she's going to do with them, but they were on sale! The paint brushes aren't crusty and the books are all shiny and new. She has a great plan and she looks with eager anticipation for the new school year to begin so she can begin implementing her well though out, thoroughly researched, and no doubt exciting and stimulating plans. This year is going to be great, she thinks to herself.
The first day wasn't exactly as idyllic as she envisioned, but over the ensuing weeks, she works out the kinks in her plans and they settle into a decent routine. She adjusts to the pixie-small attention span of her kindergartner, discovers a few ways to keep her older child challenged, and they plow ahead with the books and curriculum... mostly. There's always a casualty along the way; a book left by the wayside that no one really liked or a subject that isn't going quite as quickly or as smoothly as she thought. But she moves through fall with determination that yes, this year will still be great!
Holidays: The Big Exhale
Phew! We made it! No, it might to be the half way mark of the school year, but it is usually a nice break and a chance to regroup. Who doesn't like reevaluating things as you approach New Years! She takes some breaths, catches up on laundry for the first time in four months, and moves into January with some renewed energy.
February: The Two Fevers
February is the shortest month of the year, but to many a homeschooling mother, it is the longest. She heads into the bleak, boring wintry days of February without any sparkling holidays to look forward to (Valentine's Day hardly counts). The weather is cold, snowy or rainy with nary a sign of spring in sight. She starts to get a bit of cabin fever, when a new kind of fever sets in - planning fever! It seems like the perfect time to begin fervently researching possibilities for next year!
Early spring: A New Hope
She plans, she reads, and she takes heart in the things that are working well. She may even put aside the things that aren't working, finally letting go of the shackles of failed curriculum, knowing her plans for next year are even better. The sun breaks through the haze of winter, park playdates pop up on her meetup calendar, and there may even be a picnic or two.
May through June: Racing.. or maybe limping, to the finish
Depending on how things have gone, the race to the finish may be more like a slow slog. The weather gets better, which lifts her spirits, but also increases the wiggle-factor of her children. Many aren't coming to the start of a long summer vacation, but even those that school year round are probably approaching a break. She is ready to cast off routine for a while, let the broken crayons sit in their container, the crusty paint brushes dry out and embrace the season of sunshine - or at least "less rain" if you live here in the Pacific Northwest. She made it through another year, and she gets to recharge her batteries just a bit and revel in the anticipation of a new school year to come.
Those plans for next year, they sure do look good. It will be the best year yet....