Time to get your game face on and get planning!
I actually don’t have everything planned out for my school year yet, whereas in the past I was usually done by this point! We have had a lot going on in my family, but now I am ready to start! Are you ready to start as well? I know many mothers who have all their resources lined up right now, whether that is through the library, through curricula they bought, by looking at the curriculum charts – but now really need to start detailed planning.
Planning can really save your behind during the school year, if you forgive my bluntness. It is truly important – even if your plans get off track or you even don’t follow some of your plans during the school year – there really is security in working through the material over the summer and preparing.
The first thing to do, after gathering your resources, (or gathering your ideas about where you are going to find your resources), is to a time each week when you can sit down for two or more hours so you can focus without the children running around and just think and PLAN. EVERY WEEK. Slow and steady wins the race, so talk to your spouse, partner, babysitter and place this sacred time in your calendar.
The next place, where I always start, is with the BIG PICTURE. There are several themes this can take:
1. The calendar year – when to start school, when to end school, when are the breaks. Do you need to plan lighter around the holidays and for that last block of school when the energy is just expansive and everyone is “done”? Also, look at your paper planning and reporting for your state – how many days are you required to homeschool by law?
2. I plan around the liturgical year of the Church. Knowing what feasts and fasts are each month and what liturgical season we will be in really helps me plan the mood for each month. I also gear my opening and gathering songs, poems, and prayers around this. What a great foundation for the year, the week, the day!
3. Where is my child developmentally within the big picture of the human life span? I drew a pictorial representation of this for a roundtable I hosted several months ago at my home, and through the wonders of technology, it seems to have disappeared forever. I will draw it again and post it.
The essence is what seven year cycle is your child in, what is the theme of that time frame : birth through seven think no academic work, play, work, pictorial imagery, protection of the senses, willing, cultivating reverence and gratitude. For seven through fourteen, think the feeling life, the need for loving authority, really living into the heart of those eight artistic pillars of Waldorf education, the love we see and show for our world, and for the years fourteen through twenty-one think about the reasoning and thinking mind, the need for experts, specialization. I think underlying all of these phases of development is the need for the practical – how do we do things in our own environment with loving care (birth through seven), how do we create things and bring beauty into our world and see the beauty of a bigger space and time (seven through fourteen) and finally, how do we bring out of our love and reverence for humanity our service and duty to others in the ages of fourteen through twenty-one.
4. Specifically, what grade am I doing and how does this grade and the subjects normally included speak to my child? Start planning the blocks out. Think about goals for the year, and goals for each block. I have one sheet for the beginning of each block where I write out academic, artistic, spiritual goals, notes for any festivals that occur during that block.
5 What happens weekly? I have one sheet per week where I fill out what our opening verses, songs, prayers, poems, spelling words go as chances are that will stay the same for a whole week.
6. What is the daily rhythm? Write it down, and start filling out each day for the first block. How will you gather everyone? How will start each main lesson? What is the mental math of the day? What eight artistic pillars are you focusing on in your main lesson? Fill it in, and include the chores of each child for the day!
Most of all, just do it! Jump in and start your planning! I will be right with you!