Monday, April 30, 2012

How do YOU Plan for School?

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 This is the time of year when everyone (public schoolers, homeschoolers, etc.) gets a little restless.  The weather is turning beautiful and we all itch to put down our lessons and go outside!  I'm ready to quit the lesson plans that served us so well through the winter and move on to nature studies and reading books on blankets outside =)

Getting tired of our current routine also makes me think about next year.  What books should we read?  What worked for us this year?  What would I like to do differently next year?  So far I have pretty much figured out what books we are going to read and what material we are going to cover, but what I'm currently thinking about is the plan itself.

I love a good plan.  I could plan all day long =)  The problem is that I end up feeling bound by my plan.  I don't mean that I always follow it perfectly (I don't!) but that I feel like I'm not doing well if I don't stick to makes me uneasy, I guess.  I know, I know, a plan (or schedule, or whatever) is supposed to serve you, you are not supposed to serve your plan.  But, I still find myself wanting to say 'no' when outside things come up that would interfere with my plan, or even things like when someone is sick or my husband takes a vacation day.  I'm just feeling too bound and am trying to figure out a better way to do it.

One thing that I love about the concept of homeschooling is the freedom that it brings.  You can study what suits your family best, you can study it for as long as you want (it doesn't have to be in 56 minute segments before you move onto the next subject for another 56 minutes), and you can study it how you want.  I'm just feeling like I really want to remember that more next year. 

So I've been thinking of different ways to plan out a school year.  Of course there is the traditional way of writing what you plan on covering for each day in each subject.  That is essentially what I did for this past year. 

I heard of another lady who said she works with her children and then writes down what they did at the end of the day, sort of a reverse lesson plan.  Personally I think I would need more structure than this.  Perhaps if you are on your 5th child and really know what you need to do each year, this could be a great way to embrace the freedom of homeschooling while still having a great record of what you accomplished.

I was thinking, what if you made a big list of what you needed to cover for the year (or quarter, or month) and then just worked as you pleased, making sure it was all finished at the end.  That way, if your child was really loving art one day, they could work diligently at their project without you hurrying them along because you have three other subjects to cover by the end of the day.  I love this idea, but what about a young child who really does need to practicing reading every day?  I wouldn't want them to regress in their skills just because we chose to study something else for a week.

So this is what I think I've come up with for our studies next year.  I am going to make a daily plan, without dates, for reading/writing and history.  For our early grammar stage, reading/writing is probably the most important thing, so I think we really do need to practice it almost every day.  In Classical education, history is the backbone of our curriculum, so I'm thinking that it should be done each day (I could be wrong, we will see. =)  Each day that we do school I will check off what we covered from the list.  Since the list won't have dates on it I won't feel behind if we miss a day for a field trip or from being sick or whatever.

For the rest of the subjects (math, art, science, read alouds, music, etc.) I will write down what I would like to cover maybe for the month and then just do it as we are inspired =)  Of course sometimes there will be a particular activity that ties in with a history lesson so we will do it where it fits, but otherwise I'm hoping that this will bring me some of the freedom and flexibility that I'm looking for.

How do you plan out your school year?  Do you follow a pre-made less plan that is written out to tell you what to do each day?  Do you make your own daily lesson plans? Do you have a more free schedule like something I mentioned above (or even less structured!)?  I would love to hear what you have found works best for your family...or what you are thinking of trying new for next year!  If you comment, please also say what method of schooling your most closely identify with (Classical, Charlotte Mason, traditional, unit study, etc.)

Happy Planning!

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  1. Because of our Unit Study approach, I typically write down all the things I'd like to do/cover about that topic and then loosley fit it into our days-- and since we do FIAR, their approach is to cover a subject a day (which I adhere to very loosley); Everyday we do phonics, handwriting, math, and then a subject or two from Five in a Row-- for example, Social Studies and L.A. because I usually find tons of other activities that I want to fit in.

    I also typically write what we do at the END of our day--- if I remember to do so! I found that if I wrote a plan ahead of time, I rarely stuck to it and it bothered me!

    Interesting post! I wish others see this and comment-- I'd love to know what others do!

    1. Kristina, I'm feeling like I want to be organized more like you said you are. I had never thought of writing down what we do at the END of the day before I heard that other lady say she does it...and you do it too! =)

      I know, I hope others comment as well...I'm always fascinated by how other people do school because all I really know is what I do =)

  2. Classical style here. I think over the last 13 years I've tried almost every type of planning, lol. Right now I'm finding that weekly plans work very well for my older children (5th - 11th grades). It's flexible enough to allow for children to plan their own weekly schedule and for us to adapt to changing events, but structured enough we keep forward momentum. It means our Fridays are crazy though. I'm handing out the next week's assignments, discussing the last week's work, and collecting papers.

    The weekly approach doesn't work well with my preschoolers though. I'm using a daily checklist for them so I can use teachable moments as they happen through the day.

    It's fun to see how other people plan. :-)

    1. Thanks for sharing, Sara! It sounds like you have a lot of experience to offer! I think it's great that your older kids are planning their own schedules. That is definitely the point you want to get kids too. Sounds like you are doing a great job!


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