**this handy, yet totally honest, post contains affiliate links. I have read the e-book I link to, as well as use the planning pages. I 100% recommend them, and would/did before I became an affiliate**
Oh yes, it is that time, isn’t it? Many of us homeschoolers have wrapped up the 2013-2014 year a month or more ago. I’m personally thoroughly enjoying our break; reading books I choose, hiking, celebrating 3 summer birthdays, going on vacation. My mind hasn’t gone on vacation, though, and I’ve been busily laying very basic plans in my head for next year.
The most basic ideals I have include:
*for our homeschool to be a rich, delightful center of learning
*for our days to be focused on engaging, not on checking the box and turning X-number of pages
*for us to engage in learning outside the books and outside the box
Lucky for me, two fantastic homeschool moms and bloggers have recently released e-books which are rich with wisdom, advice, tips, and enthusiastic yet gentle words to give direction and focus to my basic ideals. I find I can come up with some pretty decent ideas all on my own, but I do love having some wiser women than I share their gems of wisdom to help me refine my though process. I just wish that I could sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and chat in person with Pam and Sarah!
My personal goals in the next week include sitting down at my own table, coffee in hand (now Fence has made me a coffee I enjoy!), planning pages spread out before me. I’ll have my tablet nearby, as well, so I can scroll through other resources as I jot down notes in my planner and on the planning pages I use.
I’m going to let the kids run amuk (only half kidding) while I set down plans for exploring the outdoors, diving into our Latin study, reading great stories together, tackling new math texts, asking questions about our faith and growing in Scripture and Catechism study.
But all the while, I will keep my children in mind. My 5th grader, who can hardly sit still, loves chasing after butterflies and catching salamanders, and reads more in an hour than I can hope to read in a day, will be allowed a choice in her science text. We’ll move away from completing one math lesson every single day, and focus on mastery instead of plowing through the pages. My 3rd grader, who masters math concepts with ease, reads well but enjoys creating things with her hands better, and asks thoughtful questions will be encouraged to read silently more often, be allowed free time for creating, and I’ll remember to pause more to listen to and answer her questions. My 1st grader, who loves Star Wars, gives up easily, and has quite the high metabolism will be using Star Wars workbooks a few days a week to compliment his other texts, be encourage to “try your best” and “try again, mistakes are not bad”, and have frequent breaks for brain-rest and snacks.
In short, I will remember that
“Goals should focus on learning and not just completing.
This is why we homeschool, right? We want to focus on the person and be sure that they have an individualized learning experience.” -p21, “Plan Your Year” by Pam Barnhill
While keeping both goals and children in mind, my next step is to evaluate what we study. Latin? You bet. I love it, and I’m finding that my girls are enjoying it, also. Math, yes. Language arts, yes. History–American and world, geography, and state history via field trips? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Art history? Nope. While I love the Mother of Divine Grace suggested syllabi and books, I don’t love the art program. I’ve bought those masterpiece art cards for three years, and have used them about 8 total times in 4 years of homeschooling. And that’s ok. I know it isn’t a good fit for us, so we’re scrapping it. I’ll be asking myself some questions:
*”Why are we learning this?”
*”How this subject/book/activity help us move towards our goals?”
*”Will adding this spread our learning too thin?”
*”Do we hate this?”
I know the what, next is how and when. I’ve realized that I experience a bit of burn-out and stress after several weeks, and just need some time and space to recharge and reset out space. I need rest. The kids need rest. Teaching from rest is not only more peaceful, but it is more enriching and enjoyable. Don’t we all feel excited and ready to go at the start of the year, but come Christmas break we’re spent? Same when April and May *finally* show up on the calendar–we’re just done. The excitement is gone. Instead of engaging in learning, we’re plodding along checking the boxes, scratching off the pages completed, fretting about “how are we going to get it all done?!”
In the same train of thought at considering my children, I consider myself. How will I best take care of myself and my planning and our time as a family to make our homeschool run smoothly and happily? I decided that this year is time for a 6-week on, 1-week off schedule.
Doing so will allow us to work diligently for 6 weeks, then have time to rest and play and reconsider my specific plans in light of our big-picture goals and what is working (or not) for us. That week off will be just as much for me–if not more so–than for the kids to reset and recharge. I’m so excited for this new schedule!
Finally, I will consider our booklist and activities. Most of the books I have already for 3rd and 1st grade, since we’ve already covered those with my oldest! New to us this year will be science (still undecided), world history (from RC History), and various books making Shakespeare approachable and enjoyable for young readers. We’ll add some activities outside the home, perhaps a scouting group and sporting activities, but not too many so I am not spread too thin running us around town all the time! I am hopeful–even confident!–that carefully considering these aspects of our homeschool will keep me from running around like a headless chicken, and instead (mostly) peacefully and happily taking on each day.
There. That’s my plan of attack. Now to get to it, instead of writing more blogs and doing more chores around the house…The hardest step is always the first step for me.
If, like me, you like to have someone guide your process or share ideas so you can come up with your own plan, do check out Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. It is on sale through the July 5th, for $7.99. (affiliate link! But I cross my heart and promise that I wouldn’t tell you to buy this if I didn’t already love it myself!)
Now off I go, for real this time. Planning awaits!