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September 14, 2014

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This is the first year in many that I truly feel ready to start school. I just received the last of my curriculum. This week I have been assembling binders and starting to pre-read Polar Bear's books. Sunshine, our friend SC and I are hammering out our schedule for Slacker Science. Teen Book Club has already picked out all the books and scheduled our meetings for the school year. Now I am concocting plans for teaching five children while feeding and caring for a toddler and baby. 

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Polar Bear, as a rising 8th grader, will be working independently for the most part. We will review the work for the week ahead and discuss the previous week each Monday morning. We will then have a brief check-up meeting each morning. He will turn all his work in each Friday and I will check it over the weekend.

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Cookie Monster and Strawberry are pretty close in skill level, so they will be in a class together. They will be studying American History this year. Dinosaur will join them for science. He and Apple Blossom will work together in history and then I will teach them separately for everything else. Apple Blossom, who is not quite ready for kindergarten, will work on some math and reading, but will mostly be listening to stories and playing with Ducky. I'm contemplating using some free pre-K materials I have to do a few fun things with Apple Blossom and Ducky, but it will depend on how all my other teaching duties go. I've set up one box for each day of the week with a few special toys, craft supplies and quiet activities to keep them amused. Sweet Pea will of course focus on nursing and gross motor skills like crawling and sitting up. 

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Even though this is the most prepared for school that I have been in years, I am still nervous. This is my 9th year homeschooling and I still grapple with the same concerns. Am I ready for this? Will I be able to do it right? Am I equipped to teach 8th grade? Can I really teach all these different levels at once? Am I totally messing my children up? Will this homeschooling thing really work? Will I survive the year? Am I crazy?

I know that many new homeschooling moms are asking similar questions. I don't know if it helps any to know that I ask myself the same questions and deal with the same nervousness. After nine years, I do have a few answers to share.

"Am I ready for this? Am I equipped to teach 8th grade?" You only have to be ready to teach the next lesson. If your child is in kindergarten, you don't have to worry about teaching high school, just look to the next lesson, not the next year. ]If you can read with comprehension, I truly believe you can teach your child. If you hit something you don't understand, you will find plenty of resources online or in your community to help. Most of the time you just have to look around and ask for help.

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"Can I really teach all these different levels at once? Am I totally messing my children up?" I know moms who have taught as many as six different grade levels at a time and no they are not super moms. They did it, their children are not at all messed up and are some of the most responsible, clear-spoken and intelligent young adults I know. When I look at homeschool families with older children and the young adults I know who were homeschooled, I can say, yes, with a conscientious parent this homeschooling thing really does work.

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"Will I survive this year?" Last year my dad died and I gave birth to my seventh child all during one school year and there were lots of other little crises that came along during and between those two huge events. Through all of that, Hubby and I kept our family fed and safe, kept up with our church youth group, and continued managing the affairs of Hubby's parents. Not only did we all survive, the kids test scores showed they learned more than I thought possible in our crazy year. Whether this year is less crazy than last year was for us, or even crazier, you will make mistakes, grow, learn and move on.

"Am I crazy?" Well, I can't speak for you. I know I am absolutely crazy, but that's definitely a pre-existing condition.

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