July: Time To Plan


Well, planning is still coming along.  My seventh grader is the hardest, because not only did I have to find most of the resources by searching or through word of mouth from other homeschooling mothers, I had to read all of them!  So, it is  moving slowly.  I keep having these epiphanies and a-ha kinds of moments about how the curriculum is working to a culmination and how things are stretching over and through blocks, but that also is making things a bit slow.

Things are brighter for my almost five year old, whose year is almost entirely done, and for my fourth grader, whose year is about half done.

What I did this year regarding the needed practice of math and grammar and such was to make one long document with each day of the week for each week of school and I  literally mapped out the math and grammar for the entire year by day.  If grammar coincided within a block such as Man and Animal or Norse Myths, for example, it was easy enough to note which block it went with by week.   I also did this with fine art projects for my seventh grader as well.   This document has turned into an overarching kind of document that the separate Word documents for each block just plug into.  Just a thought for those of you who have children who might need more practice and repetition than is normally spoken about within many of the Waldorf curriculum sources.

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.

8.  For children in grades 4-8 that need to practice skills throughout the year (fine arts for middle schoolers, grammar, mathematics, etc) consider making a week by week document and following one subject through the year and then go back and follow the next subject through the year.  At least have a flow so you can adjust it up or down depending upon your child’s progress without a lot of effort.

How are you coming with planning?  I hope you feel encouraged and are finding time to plan!

Once again,

13 thoughts on “July: Time To Plan

  1. Hi Carrie,
    I too have a kindergartner & I’m planning to use the oak meadow curriculum but I am wondering if you have any recommendations for Waldorf storytelling books? I’m a bit nervous of the circle & storytelling strangely enough. have you ever used the oak meadow or would you recommend a different kindergarten curriculum? I’m not ready to create one myself so looking for something already laid out. Thanks!

    • Chelsea – You can check Melisa Nielsen’s work out at Waldorf Essentials, I think that is laid out. Live Education and Christopherus also are options. Christopherus is not laid out. Live Ed has lots and lots of suggestions but you would have to put together the day by day. Another resource I like is Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie’s Celebrate the Rhythm of Life monthly program. I believe Oak Meadow introduces letters in kindergarten, so it is not really related to Waldorf Education at this point. Don’t know if that helps!
      Storytelling with Children would be a good resource for you to read, along with Susan Perrow’s “Healing STories for Challenging Behaviors”

    • Hi Carrie, thanks for the wonderful information! I have a question about six year old kindergartners… My daughter is six & so I thought starting letters would be appropriate Waldorf curriculum. Am I mislead? Thanks in advance! Chelsea

    • Chelsea
      It depends if she is in kindergarten or first grade. Letters come in first grade in traditional Waldorf schooling.

  2. Wow thats a lot of detail you record for grammar and maths practice. I have nothing like that. And what I find is that if I don’t plan it, I don’t do it!! I get through main lessons if I’m lucky and often practice, movement and crafts is hit and miss. So I like your idea of writing it all down as separate documents. Do you plan the whole year at the beginning(at least a framework)? Or put it together week by week throughout the year?
    I’ve been combing through your notes on Grade 3 and Grade 4. And I think I might follow a suggestion made by you and by Cathy about a hybrid year. I’m thinking next year (Jan – Dec in New Zealand) will be pretty much Grade 3 for half, and then Grade 4 for half. And by 2016 I’ll be running both my older kids on a full-on Grade 5 year. The hardest part of my planning is deciding what to leave out. I just want to do it all.

    • Carla,
      Yes, I planned in the order I wrote – the year, the months, the blocks. The practice document actually evolved from planning math. I planned a math review and block, and then thought what about all the practice in between blocks? So I started to lay it out by week, and once I started, I went through the whole year and started labeling it by week one, week twenty, etc. Then I thought, well, since it is all laid out, why not add the grammar and the fine arts projects that I want to practice but aren’t really related to a specific block there as well so it is all in one place?
      Sigh. Someday I need to take all this work and write a curriculum. LOL

  3. I think I’m going to start blogging about when I DON’T plan, because I think planning is omnipresent in my life. LOL

    Thinking about your idea about practice for the year. I usually do this month by month and even that doesn’t stick, bc – especially with math – they either whiz through something or it takes double the time I sketched out for it. Interesting though to look at what you want to get through in the space of a year. Then maybe the individual days don’t matter so much.

    I do like to layout those “extras” though. They are so easy to lose in the shuffle of things.

  4. Dear Carrie,

    my question is not linked to this topic in particular but I thought I would be interested to hear your opinion in a discipline question as I value very much your posts. I have 4 kids and the situation is often very difficult here. My 3 years old twin boys drive me crazy sometimes. I try to apply positive discipline but sometimes I really don’t know what to do. So this morning after a difficult situation where I wanted to yell at them I tried to think about what would you recommend in this particular situation, so I decided I would ask. Here is what happened: I’m upstairs taking a shower, in the meantime my sweet little boys had poured all the grated cheese on the trampoline together with some liquid soap…. They often do silly things like that, I think it is just out of fun. I’m wondering what can I do?I tried to keep my cool but told them I was very angry and decided they could not go to the trampoline today anymore. I don’t like punishments and don’t know if this was the right thing to do.


    • Patrizia,
      I would say that after cleaning up the mess themselves (restitution), that is a very logical consequence. Gentle discipline does not mean there are not any outcomes to the actions we choose – this is true in life, and this is true in dealing with children.

  5. Hello Carrie,

    I tried to leave a comment on an earlier post from 2013, but it would not let me post it. Do you know what the problem might be?

    Happy planning, grades 7 and 8 are tough and teaching them is tough also because children change and become their own persons. I think this is more true for boys.


    • Hi Eva! Thank you so much for chiming in as you are one of my beautiful mentor mamas — I love to see what you and your family are up to and your opinions mean a lot!
      We were just camping so I have a lot of comments to approve, so your other comment might be buried in all of them to be approved!

  6. I noticed that the comment did get published although I got some weird message that said that it could not get published :). I was going to add to you planning thoughts: Don’t plan too much, my children got very slow once reaching that age, slow in everything: getting up, taking a shower, eating, working, etc. Each main lesson went on and on because my children were just slow! I had all these plans, but they had to change many times! For my children turning 14 was a big change, not a revolution or explosion, just a time to start daydreaming more. I wonder if all my children will be like that :).

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