So, planning season is upon us! Are you getting ready for fall school yet? I am. Partially because I am more sanguine and sick of all our current subjects this time of year, and partially because I like to be prepared.
So, step number one: gather your chief helper in planning. Mine is a fuzzy dog who sits by me whilst I contemplate my thoughts. And tea. I always have tea.
Then, I make or pull out a yearly plan. I have had my yearly plan since my oldest was six, so it is very battered by now. It is a big piece of paper divided into twelve big squares, one for each month, and scribbled/ written on with all kinds of pens and pencils. Each month is labeled and I added things such as our family holidays, food we normally eat around that time of year, things in nature in our area that time of year, different fairy tales and songs. You might wonder what this has to do with homeschooling a tenth and seventh grader (outside of the fact I still have a second grader) in the fall, but I find the essence of these months still permeates into our work within the diversity of the year.
Then, because my children have friends who are in two different school districts, I look at the public school calendars for those districts and see what days friends are likely to have off. We can’t always take off all the dates, but I try to look and see what fun we might be able to have at those times. Then I determine a possible start and end date to our school year, and our vacations and festivals. It is always flexible, though. I never really know when field trips will pop up per se as we have a homeschooling group that often gets good deals to things, but if I know any field trips for the coming school year I pencil those in.
When I know how many weeks I am schooling and how many days are in each week, then I know approximately how many weeks I can devote to a block. I start thinking about what order I want to do my blocks in. What makes sense for that time of year? Will we be getting ready for holidays or tired or wanting to be outside more? Those kinds of things help the decision- making process. So I write the order of the blocks on the yearly calendar that has all the dates. After getting the order of blocks down, I start assembling resources for each block of each grade. Usually that means stacks of books in each block divided by grade and my house is a giant library- looking mess, and a list of books I would like to either look at through the library or books I want to buy used. For our high schooler, it also means figuring out if I am ordering any curricula for the year long track classes or if we are doing any classes outside the home.
I then start to think about daily plans. I think about if we need any extra time for skill development for the upper grades or for track classes that run all year. This year, I decided that during non-literature blocks for my tenth grader, I am going to combine her with her seventh grade sister for writing several days a week (skill development for the seventh grader). I also decided I am going to pick a topic a month and all the children can do a project on it together once each week. I chose things that mainly overlap in seventh and tenth grade, but I will have something special for my little second grader too. So, I make this idea of weekly lessons down to the daily flow of things. Who will go first? Together? Last? How will this flow?
And lastly, but perhaps it should be first – where will my self-care be? This year I realized I had to do some things for my own physical health and I had to put those things first thing in the morning but I could no longer do it at 5:30 AM. So I am meditating on self care and what that will look like in the new school year.
I would love to hear how your planning is coming along!
Blessings and love,
This is so helpful as I start to contemplate next year, when we are thinking about homeschooling (after a few years of having our olders enrolled at a Waldorf School). I can’t quite envision what your yearly plan looks like – do you have a photo of this? I know I need to sit down and start this kind of planning, as all my thoughts about next year are just in my head so far. I will be doing 3rd grade, 2nd year kindy (assuming I keep my 5 year-old home too), and I will also have a 3.5 year-old and 18 month-old when the fall rolls around. A lot to think about!
It really is a bunch of papers that wouldn’t probably make too much sense to anyone outside of me, except maybe the 12 month plan but that is so area specific and specific to the religious festivals in our family, not so certain that would help either. The yearly start and end dates and vacations looks literally like a school calendar, and then the block plans I take those dates and divide them into blocks. I think actually your age spread works out nicely – all the littles can do circle and kindy things together, and your third grader can have a separate main lesson block and then you can combine for seasonal crafting/handwork and that sort of thing. I think it will be a lovely year for you all!