Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Classical Education with no Daily Lesson Plan?

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I am probably like most homeschool moms when it comes to scheduling...I've tried almost everything!  Sometimes I have tried making detailed plans in a teacher's lesson book, other times I have tried writing the lessons in a planner for my son.  I have had weekly check lists, lessons on post-it notes, and everything in between.  Everything works to some degree, but nothing has felt quite right yet.

I am the type of person who loves to loves to make schedules.  I love planning every lesson and coming up with a minute-by-minute plan for the day.  The problem comes when the slightest snag happens.  I have a hard time adjusting =)  I know that a schedule is not supposed to master me, but I also know how I am!

The Master List in lieu of the Daily Lesson Plan

Click picture to view what our list looks like.
 Just to give you an idea =)
I hang it vertically on the wall like this.
So, this summer I tried something different.  I wrote down a long list of every lesson I wanted to get
done before our small summer break (we school year round, but I like to take a couple weeks off in August), then whenever we got something done we would simply cross it off.  There were no scheduled days or times.  We had the freedom to do as much or little of a subject that we wanted to at a time, and my kids were motivated as they saw the massive list getting smaller and smaller!

So, I am going to try the same thing for the new year.  I am splitting the year up into three parts and writing a master list for each trimester (I hang a long list right on the wall for each kid).  We will have the freedom to take days off as we see fit, and when we get the list all done we get to break until the next trimester starts.  The breaks will fall nicely around Christmas, Easter, and the mid/end of summer.

Our Daily Routine

With all that said, here is what our first trimester is going to look like:

8:00am -
  • Kids wake up
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Morning Time at the table while the kids eat
    • Read aloud from living history books 
    • Memory Box Review
    • 1 activity related to our Classical Conversations material (copywork page, a page from Draw Write Now, or something else to review the week's material)

 9:00am - 
  • Move to the school room table
  • Quickly review the new Classical Conversations memory pegs for the week
  • Complete the Saxon meeting book together

9:30am -
  • Kids pick what they want to do from our master list and cross it out when they are done!
  • Subjects on the master list include: math, Latin, grammar, reading, etc.
  • Get ready for the day (get dressed, brush teeth, make bed, tidy room) when there is a time they are waiting for me because I'm helping the other child.

 11:00am -
  • Play time!
  • Mom cleans, gets lunch ready, etc.

12:00pm -
  • Lunch
  • More read aloud time!

  • Reading and Resting time (everyone gets some down time by themselves)

  • Afternoons free for practicing music, playing games, and other fun stuff

As I write this all, I know it still sounds pretty scheduled.  Really that was just for the sake of getting it into an orderly blog post.  The idea is that we will be together first thing in the morning for reading aloud and reviewing memory work, then an hour or so will be left for doing schoolwork off the master list.  Rest time is something I have always prioritized, then the afternoons are free (Charlotte Mason style).

Each day I am going to try to have my son write down what he did (lessons, books read, extra classes, etc.)  I don't know if this will turn out a I'm thinking, but the idea is that it would be a reverse lesson plan.  A record of what we did instead of what we planned to do.

Tuesdays will be different because they are our Classical Conversations day.  Thursdays we always visit my parents, so this flexibility will work well for that.  At some point in the year the kids will be taking swimming lessons or some other kind of lesson.  Having a master plan instead of a daily plan will hopefully help us to be flexible and enjoy the year, while still being super productive and being able to take advantage of lots of neat opportunities!

Does a Classical Education have to be Regimented?

When most people think of classical education, they think of students sitting in rows (maybe wearing togas ;) chanting Latin phrases in monotone voices.

When homeschoolers think of classical education, perhaps they have read a book like The Well Trained Mind, and have visions of their student sitting at a desk for endless hours completing intense amounts of work.  (By the way, I think The Well Trained Mind is a great book, it is just often misunderstood by homeschoolers who do not subscribe to the classical modle.)

The more I learn about classical education (mostly from listening to lectures from Dr. Christopher Perrin) the more I am seeing that it is so much more than a rigorous curriculum.  Yes, we challange our students and expect a lot from them.  Yes, we read countless books and learn Latin.  But we also dive deep into subjects and have good discussions.  We look broadly and contemplate the good, the true, and the beautiful.  I am hoping that my master plan idea will help us to accomplish all of this, both the rigor and the contemplation.

I hope that some of you will join me in making this year a year of understanding classical education even better and implementing new (well, old) ideas into your homes.  Who's with me?  How are you scheduling your day to meet your educational goals?

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace 


$2 off of Sara Mackenzie's book, Teaching from Rest, until the end of the month!  Learn how to implement some of the ideas I've talked about today into your homeschool this year!

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  1. I think it sounds like a beautiful plan, Amy. We're also facing some changes to our daily schedule this year after lots of prayer, contemplation and listening to many audios from Dr. Perrin and the Circe Institute. Looking forward to seeing how this looks in action during the year.

    1. I love to see other people being impacted by the same things I've been listening to! I love learning more about what classical education really is and I look forward to encouraging one another this year!

  2. It takes a lot of time to find what works and doesn't work. And then the children change to a new stage! This plan looks marvelous with enough structure to know what you're doing, but relaxed enough to account for surprises that occur during the day. I can't wait to hear how this routine works for you. :-)

    1. Thanks, Sara! Yeah, the kids always throw me off my game when they go an change right after I have things figured out =) haha

  3. Sounds wonderful! I've been studying classical education all summer and am learning so much. It's made me love Classical Conversations all the more!

    1. Good for you! Are you part of a Classical Conversations community, or are you just learning about it?

  4. Amy, Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I like the list idea. We have a 10, 7, 5, and 3 year old and I think this approach appeals more to me than writing it all out each week...bc we rarely get to everything! Would you mind showing us what one list might look like? Thank you.

    1. Sure! Sorry it took me so long to get to this, but I'll add some pictures right now!

  5. This schedule is what I've been trying to implement around here. I LOVE the list for each semester rather than each week.

    1. Wonderful! I hope that this was able to give you some ideas or encouragement to keep pressing on! =)


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