Looking back I can see that the running-out-of-plan-places were the places where I would often switch course in a year and search for something else to do. Sometimes this was done with good reason (the boring history selection from last year), but my confidence was also most vulnerable during those down times when the plan ran out.
At the very worst, I was driving our schooling in a way that was inconsistent -- goals, expectations, and practices were seldom thought out. That is my number one goal for this year; I want to be consistent and move us forward at the pace that is right for us. These kids are pretty bright (and I am not saying that just because I am their mother). They deserve the opportunity to learn to their potential.
So with that in mind, this summer it became important to me to formulate a plan of action for the entire school year and prepare in advance to implement that plan. While it is not crisis-proof by any means, nor is it so stringent that it would impede a rabbit trail or two that comes along, once finished it will be solid enough that we can make forward progress through the year with us having to stop and wait for mom to work out what we are going to do next.
I am pretty proud of that.
So this is the nuts and bolts of what I did. My go-to posts on this process can be found at Real Mom Resources. They are Chelli's three planning posts from The Planted Trees (links 1, 2 and 3). While I didn't follow her process exactly, those were the backbone of my process, and I thank her for taking the time to write it all out. I love how homeschoolers share with one another.
I started by looking a the school year. I wanted to follow the flexible model of schooling. If there is a beautiful week in October when it makes more sense to spend three days in the park than three days at the table doing math, then I want the flexibility to do that. So I figured the number of days I wanted us to school (170) and divided by the number of months we would be schooling (10 -- I took out two months for summer). This determined that we need to school an average of 17 days per month to meet that goal. That leaves plenty of time for holidays and days off.
Feeling good, next I listed out the subjects I wanted to cover this year. I made one list for Olivia, one for John, and one for us to do together. (You can see what these lists entail on the curriculum page.) It was pretty simple then for me to look at those lists and devise a weekly schedule -- what we were going to do on each day. Like Chelli, I used the planning forms from Simply Charlotte Mason.
The number of days to do each topic is really kind of arbitrary. Spanish is done daily, because a foreign language needs to be practiced regularly to be retained. Ditto with math, but I added drill and math games once a week because Singapore is weaker in that as a program. These decision were totally up to me, driven by the fact that we don't want to do every subject every single day -- our school day would be way too long.
Once I had an idea of what we would be doing each day, then I started to block out how we might put this plan in action. I knew I wanted to start on the early side, include lots of breaks, include a quiet time session, have one-on-one time with each kid (or as close as I could manage with a two-year-old about), and finish by 3:00 most days. I decided to start with a morning block together, then a block where I work with each of the older kids singly, and then later in the day a time for all of us to work together again. All I can say is that it looks really pretty on paper. I am sure we will adjust and regroup a few times, but to start this is the goal.
The times in the last column are target start times. These will be somewhat flexible. I'm not going to stand there eyeballing the clock. I am going to use a timer, though, to help us stay on track during individual work blocks. We will do math or spelling or reading for 10 minutes or 15 or whatever is appropriate and then move on. We won't be slave to the book or finishing a lesson.
I really want to focus on bringing some routine to our days this year so that the kids can know what to expect from each day and have days be comforting in the consistency. There will take some training to make this schedule work -- both older kids and Thomas will need to learn to play together and not interrupt while I am working with the other one, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help with that process.
I'm not married to this plan, but I am married to a guy who asked me to focus a little more on consistency and routine this year. This is my attempt to honor that.
Now that we have the nuts and bolts hashed out, the next post will address methods and goals.