Every summer I map out my study plans for the upcoming year. I look at what I can do to set up my year for success as a CC mom/teacher as well as make my life easier as a CC tutor. Here's my road map for what to focus on over the summer.
Summer Study Plans: Teacher Prep Comes first
It's easy to think that my study time as a CC tutor is more important than my study time as a CC teacher (i.e. Mom). However, one thing I've discovered is that in order to inspire my kids to continue enjoying their work throughout the year, I need to know what they're up against and scale the work accordingly. The best way to do this is to dig into the work myself.
Start at a CC Parent Practicum
I've been to Classical Conversations Parent Practicums for the past 10 years. Even though there is a lot of repeated information, these are some of the best ways to equip myself as a teacher. I'm speaking at one this year, but I always find I'm encouraged by the interaction from the people that attend more than anything. We learn together and I'm encouraged by the fact that I'm not alone in this pursuit.
Even if you don't have your Challenge guide, the CC Catalog will give you sufficient information to get a head start on studying for the new school year. All of the literature books are listed in the order in which students will read them, so you already know what will be the first book on the list as class starts back.
My first summer with my first kid was all about Latin. With each kid that has risen up through the Challenge program, I've been able to add to my understanding of the material which just makes me a better teacher for my student.
Last summer I read through about half of the Challenge A books with my daughter. We took notes on our summer reading which made our ANI charts so much easier during the school year. There are only five books to read for Challenge B, so I'm hoping to read through them with my girl.
She can read these on her own for sure, but it is so fun to read together. We talk about each chapter as we go and that helps clear up any misunderstandings in the books. In the summer, I have the freedom to be kind of indulgent in spending this time with my daughter.
We'll use these fun summer reading tracker stickers to help us see our progress and keep us motivated to keep reading. Reading hasn't always been a strength for her, but making it an enjoyable time for us together has helped her develop a love of reading even if it is difficult.
Lean Into Your Weakness
Each summer as I've prepared as a teacher, I try to lean into my weakness. The first time I met Challenge B, this was Logic. I spent a couple of weeks watching the videos and working through the exercises on my own. It was some of the best time I've spent. It took the fear of the subject away and it allowed me to support my students when they ran into difficulties in a subject I was unfamiliar with.
We all have different weaknesses though, so whatever scares you the most about the upcoming year is probably something you just need to look a little closer at while there isn't any pressure to perform. This allows you to have the time you need for something to click.
Summer Study Plans: Tutor Prep Comes Next
The last three years I've tutored Challenge programs that I had previously tutored, so my summer study plans for tutoring was fairly minimal. I've signed up to direct Challenge II next year, and since it will be my first time I'm going to utilize my summer to dig into some unfamiliar territory.
Guess what? More Reading
Confession - I really enjoy reading. Therefore, I always start with the reading. Since there are 18 books in Challenge II to discuss, I'm going to see if I can get a few read over the summer. I'm sure I won't read them all, but it will be great to have some read before school starts back again.
If I mark up my books as I read, I'll be set for discussions in class when the time comes.
Guess what? Leaning Into My Weakness
My other area of focus will be that thing that brings me the most fear: Biology. As a tutor, I'm not going to be able to master it all. My job is to be the lead learner. I'm so excited to dig into How Then Shall We Live and the history of Western Culture, so I'm not worried about doing that during the school year. Knowing myself, I'll avoid Biology if I don't give myself time to really dig into the material and discover its blessings.
As I dig in here I'll find out the potential pitfalls as a student and be better equipped to lead my students in their learning. I'll also get a better idea about what materials I'll need throughout the year for the experiments.
Finding Time to Make It Happen
These lofty ideas don't just happen. I have to plan for them, or my summer will take over and school will be ramping back up again before I know it.
I start with the fixed plans and work my way backwards. Reading books can fit into travel, relaxation, and family visits. I'm generally not too worried about those. However, something like Biology or Logic will need more focused time. Here's how I make it work:
- Utilize grandparents. My mother-in-law hosts Camp Grandma every summer she can. When the kids are gone, I can give full attention to the tougher subjects.
- Wrangle a friend. Everything is better with a friend. Find someone who is also hunting down the same subject you're studying and join forces. Meet up at a coffee house and discuss the progress you're making. This holds you accountable and keeps it enjoyable.
- Take advantage of road trips. Listen to audio books as you ride along. You'll get to enjoy becoming familiar with some of the stories you'll be discussing while making it to your next destination.
Soaking Up Goodness in the Summer
I consider myself a creative person. While that is true, I'm much more of a slow cooker rather than a microwave. Taking time to soak up goodness by studying in the summer reminds me of how a succulent plant is designed.
My daughter has shown me how to propagate one of these incredible plants. She gathers the leaves that have fallen off her plants and sets them on a board to regenerate. You don't have to put them in soil or water them. They have all of the moisture they need to grow an entire new plant. When they've poured themselves out, it's time to plant the new growth in soil and watch it grow.
Soaking in goodness through summer study plans allows me to stay hydrated throughout the year as I pour out my heart to my students. It will never be enough to fully satisfy, and God will supply all I need from moment to moment, but my summer prep is a way to honor Him with the job He's given me. It brings me joy to work with all of my heart.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.