In May, I wrote a post about “preschool” planning here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/25/notes-for-preschool-planning/, plans for fourth grade: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/22/plans-for-fourth-grade/, and this post about planning: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/05/05/may-time-to-plan/
I think, finally, I have the blocks for my seventh grader mapped out. It was a lot of wrestling with the curriculum, which I shall write about at some point. In the meantime, while I was wrestling with what blocks and where, I wrote out a general flow for six of the blocks, knowing the order and such would evenutally come.
I haven’t done much for fourth grade yet, other than to lay out a general flow to the school year, but I have planned our Local Geography block and started to put together a flow for math for the entire year.
I have been focusing on my five year old kindergartener this year and have all the weeks of the school year mapped out for rhythm and festivals. Now I am going back and adding in the details of what we will paint, craft, bake, make for festivals and am about three quarters of the way through the school year. The last step will be to create a circle to start our day and pick the verses and songs we will use every week to open activities.
Once again, the basic steps that I use to plan, (and everyone does it differently!):
1. Go through some of the preliminary steps regarding thinking and meditating on each month of the year, how did I feel, what got slow this year, what went fast, how did we feel. Spend some time in thinking about where the children are right now, what are their strengths, what do they need to work on, what goals do I have for the upcoming school year for us as a family and for each child and what is my child most interested in.
2. Divide a large piece of paper into twelve squares (or you could create a circle) (or do both!) and write down festivals, feasts, special things for each month, stories and activities that you usually do during those months, brief ideas. Our year is devised around the liturgical year as well as seasonal activities.
3. Bring out a calendar and decide start and end dates, dates of vacation or days off. This year, I tried to take a Monday or Friday off each month so we could have a long weekend.
4. Decide the general order of blocks for each grade. I write these on my monthly calendar.
4. You can then read the materials for each grade or block and start to plan the general flow of each block by week , day or just a general start to end flow. Then start thinking about hands on projects, and what you will draw or paint or model in conjunction with the block. For a kindergartener (five year old or six year old year), you can start to lay out a general flow of a rhythm to your week, start picking stories and thinking about what puppetry you will use or props.
5. Last step for the grades is to flesh out each block in detail. Many teachers will make a main lesson book of their own for the block. What will be the summaries, the paintings or drawings or projects, for older children what will be done in terms of independent writing for that block? I have a rising seventh grader and for that grade, this is a big thrust of the year.
6. For older children, decide what work can be done independently to start the morning, or what they can do whilst you are teaching other children – especially if they are in middle school and have a bit more to do. Younger children, of course, can play!
7. For kindergartners, the last step is to plan your circle time, pick out verses for the activities you will do each week, and create puppets or props as needed.
Keep planning and coming along. If you have a blog and have written any posts about planning, please do link in the comment box below.
Carrie — I have wondered about your daily rhythm. To the point: when do you do this planning? When do you post on your blog? Is there a time in the day when your kids are self-contained, or are all you squeezing this all into early morning and late night hours?
My children are in bed by eight usually. So that is good time. Sometimes I can get an hour in the morning before everyone is really going and running around and needs me. Don’t forget, though, that my children may be older than yours. I have a nine and a half year old, our oldest will be 13 next month, and many times they will help play with our four year old.
I also plan on the weekends when my husband is home more as well and he will take all the children to have fun.
Hope that helps; you will come up with what works for you and your family. If your children are little, you may need a mother’s helper or to really work out times for planning with your spouse, partner, a grandparent or aunt.
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I really appreciate the posts on planning. This year we are coming out of was my first full year homeschooling my two children. I would greatly appreciate a post on how you manage your time with planning. How have you managed to plan so thoroughly and still teach the current year and have family/partner time? (I know part of it is starting early, however I struggled with trying to learn next year’s material while still teaching this year’s!) I see someone above had a similar question! Thank you!
I tried to comment, but I don’t see my comment. Similar to the question above…how do you organize your time to plan so thoroughly? I would love to learn more, as I am now doing my planning for my two children (following our first full year homeschooling) and I found I couldn’t start any sooner, because it affected my ability to deliver the current year lessons. We have paused for a summer break, but I still find it hard to carve time that doesn’t sacrifice partner, family, or sleep time! Thank you for your planning posts (and blog)!
HI Nicola! You can see my answer to Bugorama – mainly at night, sometimes I am too tired, but if everyone gets off to bed early enough I can plan. There are periods where my children run off and play and don’t need me too much, so that is when I can do reading for certain subjects. Sometimes I can plan for an hour in the morning if I get up and no one is really up or if everyone is up but just involved in their own play. This summer, I am planning on using a mother’s helper when I can get it so I can plan in three hour chunks. I also work to set up time with my husband for some weekends so, for example, he might take the children to the pool but then I stay home and plan or something like that. I also think a lot in my head before I write things on paper so when I have the time I can really just spill it out of my head on paper. If you have tiny children, most likely you will need help from your spouse, partner, a homeschooling mother you could trade a few hours a week with, or a mother’s helper.
Hope that helps,
Also, I find I can do the sort of yearly map and plan out blocks and order resources toward the end of the school year, but I don’t do a lot of in depth planning until the school year is done. We live in the Deep South, so we start school in August and end in May, which is why my timetable might look a little different.
Thank you, Carrie. That does help. It sounds similar to how I am planning, although I hadn’t thought to hire a mother’s helper. I, too, am planning for 4th grade and I am also planning for 1st. I am not new to Waldorf, but this past year was my first full one homeschooling and I am definitely in a teacher learning curve, particularly as I didn’t ease in from kindy, but dove into the grades! I do wish I didn’t feel as though all my “free” time needed to be spent planning. I hope to cover what I need to efficiently, so I have time to read for pleasure or have time for my hobbies this summer!
I hope so too, Nicola! Fourth is still not too hard to plan I don’t think. 🙂
Blessings and happy summering!
Darn – I tried to comment but it disappeared. Apologies if this ends up being a duplicate comment.
Hi Carrie! I am planning for my five-year-old and am looking for some suggestions for great crafts to do with her. I am thinking we will set aside Thursday mornings for creating something and so much of what I’m finding is stuff that I would end up mostly making myself. Do you have suggestions for age-appropriate crafts for the five-year-old? I have All Year Round but many of the activities seem like things she wouldn’t be able to make herself. Is Earthways perhaps a better resource for this age? I haven’t invested in that book yet. I am not against working with her, but just don’t want the projects to end up being me working and her watching – we have plenty of that in our life already.
Also, I know you suggest holding off on wet-on-wet watercolor painting and beeswax modeling for the six-year-old so I’d love more suggestions on what exactly to do with the five year old! I am hoping to set up a bit more structure for her this coming year and can really feel that she’s craving more of her own activities, rather than just following along with mama as I iron, wash dishes, etc.
Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Annie — Earthways would be a great resource! Try looking for it at your library first. You could do wet on wet watercolor painting or modeling with your daughter if you like; I just feel there is no reason to rush if you have multiple children or if your child really just needs to be outside in a stream, wood, forest, farm or field instead. 🙂 Gardening is also a great source of wonder, care and nourishment for the little ones and tending to the small critters that might live by your home.
Thanks for the tips Carrie! Sadly my library doesn’t have Earthways, so I will have to look for that. I really think holding off on the painting and modeling resonates with me, but with a napping baby at home sometimes I am looking for ways to productively occupy her when we can’t be outside. Thank you!
You can try this back post as well: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/08/22/waldorf-in-the-home-with-the-five-year-old/
Annie H, I am not Carrie, but wanted to add that in addition to Earthways (which sometimes goes under the title Earthwise, depending on where it was published), A Child’s Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones and Earth Child by Kathryn Sheehan were also both excellent for verses, songs, and activities to do with my children (at varying ages).