It is that time of year in the Northern Hemisphere! School here in the Deep South is ending this week for most of the public schools, and we are coming to a close fairly soon as well. This year our oldest will be heading into homeschool high school in the fall, and we will also have sixth and first graders starting anew! These important transitions are all the more reason to get organized over the summer. I find myself following essentially the same sorts of rhythms ever year and it really seems to fall into a hands, heart, and head pattern:
Hands – I start packing up the books for each year into bins and start getting out the books for the upcoming grades ( I have so many books by grade that I essentially only keep the grades we are doing out and the seasonal books and the rest go into the garage). I organize the bookshelves and the school room supplies and see what we need to purchase in terms of art supplies and science supplies. I also see what might need to be made for the first grade stories for our littlest member.
Heart – I sit down with my planner and figure out approximate start and end times for the school year and vacations; how many weeks of school I think we will do (which is usually 34-36 to fit things in); and I remember and remind myself “what” our family’s goals for education are; I go through my Pinterest boards for homeschooling planning and make note of things that stir my soul for this year; I observe where the children really are in all spheres of development. Over the years, I have made so many of those “divide a piece of paper into 12 blocks” – where you write down your festival days, in our case Feast Days of Saints, seasonal qualities for where we live – that I don’t really have to do that anymore, but I do go through my seasonal Pinterest boards and see what we might like to make or do or use to celebrate by month and write it down.
Head – This is the most time-consuming part. This is where the rubber meets the road and I start to lay out blocks – what blocks will I teach, in what order, how long will the blocks be, what resources will I use (which could be a post in and of itself!), what will each block contain and I write it all up day by day. This part will take me most of the summer, even having been through first grade twice before and sixth grade once before. I include not only the block work itself, but opening verses, poetry and movement and other notes.
I also think hard about the daily rhythm at this point. How many teaching periods each day or per week can I reasonably handle and not feel crazy? Where can I combine? What do I need to let go of and what do we really, really need as a family to be happy together? I am finding the older my first child becomes, things are shifting in my family. All the family in the children have very different needs right now, and I have different needs than before as I approach the last half of my fortieth decade of life.
Lastly, I make a schedule for myself for summer planning. When will I plan exactly? That part is really important because the follow-through has to be there.
Would love to hear what you are planning for fall!