In this part of the world, we’re currently finishing up our school year and gearing up for Christmas and summer holidays. I’ve done most of my planning for next year and am really excited about what I’m doing with my children in 2014.
In ‘Planning Your Homeschool Year: Setting a Vision’, I wrote on setting a vision, writing it down, and recording your child’s unique traits and characteristics.
In this post I’ll cover a little on homeschool methods, setting your learning goals for the year, and bringing it all together.
Identifying yourself with a homeschool method, such as Classical, Unschooled, Charlotte Mason or Unit study Approach, is a really just a convenient way of grouping a common set of principles and goals together that you may share in whole or in part. Many homeschoolers are eclectic, simply meaning they identify with a number of goals in a number of methods.
For instance, we love the focus in Charlotte Mason education of less text books and more living books, of hands-on connection with nature, of focus on fine arts, and of using well written books in history and literature. We also like the order and chronology of Classical Education. We aren’t true to any one method, but have found a number of things that work for us in a few of the different methods. It simply helps bring some order and shape to how our homeschool looks and feels.
You might want to consider how your homeschool method can successfully help in meeting your learning goals, and what can be tweaked and adjusted for your particular situation. You don’t want to burn yourself out trying to get something to work that is incompatible with your unique family and homeschool! Be open to adjusting things, refer to your vision, pray through the process, and connect with other like-minded families to support and encourage one another.
Setting Learning Goals
Write down what you’d like to focus on in your upcoming school year. Are there character habits you want to instil in your child? Do you have one child you want to move forward in maths, and another that you want to concentrate on written skills? Do you want to stir a love for the outdoors and connecting with nature?
Here are a handful of broad areas to consider:
- Character habits
- Spiritual development
- Social goals (how often, and in what form, to connect with others)
- Physical goals (such as physical education, and gross motor skills)
- Academic goals (such as progress in reading or handwriting)
- Family (serving inside the home)
- Missional (serving outside the home)
Look at what you’ve written down on each of your children and consider the best ways of meeting these goals. This will be how you choose your curriculum.
I highly recommend Clay and Sally Clarkson’s book ‘Educating the Wholehearted Child’ to read during the process of your homeschool planning. It’s the best book I’ve EVER read on homeschooling. It will be something you constantly refer back to.
Choose Your Curriculum
With your vision, methods, learning goals, and all other considerations taken into account, this is the fun part of piecing together what you will teach your children over the course of the next year.
It’s beyond the scope of this post to discuss curriculum options. But as a starting point, you might like to consider asking on any of the homeschooling groups on Facebook for recommendations, or getting Cathy Duffy’s book out from the library ‘101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum’. There are also some great reviews of different curriculum and resources from the TOS Review Crew.
Setting Shape and Structure
I prefer our homeschool structure to have a little more shape and flexibility over having one that has too much rigid scheduling that doesn’t allow for the ebbs and flows of life. That’s simply what I’ve found that works for us. It means I don’t burn myself out trying to stick to a schedule, and that learning finds a rhythm that works in the life of our unique family. I have an ‘ideal’ weekly plan, but most weeks it changes a little depending on how the day and week flows.
With that said, here’s how I plan my course for the year.
Planning Your Course
- Work out how many weeks of the year you plan to homeschool.
- Work out how many days per week including time outside the home you plan to homeschool.
- Break down your course into achievable timeframes. This last year, I roughly grouped read-alouds into monthly themes (eg. Exploration, England, Children of the World).
- Try using a variety of different learning methods spread throughout the month, so there’s less time sitting doing workbooks. We do at least one lapbook a month across the different subjects. We also break up desk time with piano practice, time outside, and read-aloud times.
- Consider teaching certain subjects once a week for half a day, and others like to spread this over a number of times per week.
- Be open to your schedule being somewhat ‘living’ and continue to re-evaluate through the course of the year.
Some additional things to consider in your planning:
- How will you manage a multi-level homeschool?
- What subjects can you teach with all your children together?
- What subjects can each child learn independent from you?
- With younger ones, you might like to keep your work book times that require greater concentration to mornings, and your co-ops, art, outside time etc to afternoons.
- How can you cultivate an environment of learning that is enjoyable and fun?
I love to create reading lists for us to work through outside of our planned curriculum for each subject – some of which we purchase if they’re really great books, and many we find at our local libraries. Great books are such a huge part of how we learn, as well as being cherished family times that we all enjoy together.
Our reading times are often quiet and still, with all three children squeezing on or next to me. But usually, one or more of the children are hopping up and down, other activity is often happening such as colouring or building block towers. But everyone is listening in (most of the time) and it’s my hope that they will grow up to love and value the gift of the written word.
Have I missed anything? Please feel free to comment below and pass on how you organise and plan your homeschool year.