Each weekend I sit down and type up what we achieved in the past week in my homeschool journal. Once completed, I can plan the upcoming week.
In my planner I have a double page spread where I’ve listed all of the subjects that we study, each in their own box: Bible, Mathematics, Language, Science, History, Latin, Art, Music, Technology, Logic, Geography, Sport and Social. Okay, so we don’t study social skills…although I’m sure the rest of society thinks it should be a mandatory subject for homeschoolers. I include it in this list to remind me to check our calendar to see if we have any upcoming social engagements.
Having these subjects listed in front of me, prompts me to think about each and ensures I don’t forget to at least consider each subject. I might decide to drop a subject that week because of limited time or because we just don’t need to do certain subjects every single week.
In each subject box on my double page spread, I decide what I would like to accomplish during the week and how many lessons I can reasonably complete. For example, in my Science box, I’ve listed three lessons as I’ve worked out that I need to complete three each week, where I can, to be comfortably finished by the end of the year. Before I listed all three, I checked to make sure we’d be home enough this week to make three lessons possible. I also pulled out the curriculum we are using and checked the materials we’ll need for the experiments. For one lesson we need an empty tin can so I wrote that in my box as well to remind me to source one before the end of the weekend. I also scanned the topics we’ll be studying to see if I can add any extra resources. We are studying the Science of Music and also atoms so I located a few Bill Nye videos for the boys to watch.
There was also mention of pointillism in one of these three Science lessons and that made me think of including a quick art activity or perhaps an art appreciation lesson on one of Georges Seurat’s artworks but I decided against both. The idea was great, but looking at our week and the other things I want to accomplish, we can’t do everything if we want to do the important stuff well.
So my coming week will include the following things:
Bible: Listen to the audio Bible each day while following along in our own, then answering questions. Starting at Chapter 6 of Matthew and completing two chapters a day.
Mathematics: Review operations and fractions page four times a week; Complete two to three exercises of Singapore Math, working on operations
Language: Read each day; Work on spelling notebook; Complete the first chapter/section of Sentence Island; Complete sentences in Practise Island; Work on a section of IEW Student Intensive Continuation Course each day
Science: Three lessons (pitch/sound; pitch length; atoms); watch Bill Nye video on sound, music and atoms
History: Read “The Lion and the Unicorn” and “Avoid Being a World War Two Evacuee” and start reading the novel “The Dolphin Crossing”; Include a war movie/documentary during the week
Latin: Review two lessons each day from Getting Started with Latin; Watch Song School Latin dvds twice a week
Music: Listen to Couperin’s Chaconne for the Organ in G minor each day and discuss on the first day; Listen to bookmarked youtube video about major and minor notes
Logic: Review the lessons we’ve completed in Fallacy Detective and move to the next chapter
Geography: Review countries in Asia and South America for two days each and one day for Europe; Read the chapter on Great Britain in Hungry Planet and Material World, discuss and map.
Social: Play date on Wednesday. (Whoohoo. That’ll get us over the half way hump of the week.)
Before I add these activities to my weekly planner I pull out each curriculum or book and look at what the lesson will entail. I don’t want to be opening the curriculum on the morning, kids with pencils in hand, to discover I need something I don’t have, or that I don’t really understand the concept myself, or that the book we planned to read is just terrible…I want to be prepared so the week runs as smoothly as possible. If Mums are preparing the lesson on the spot, they are bound to lose kids as they dwindle off to play while they wait for Mum. Plus this just adds wasted time to the school day. I can tell you from personal experience.
So today I’ve pulled each book off the shelf in turn and had a quick preview. It didn’t take long for most of them. I’ve printed pages I’ll need, I’ve bookmarked the videos/websites we’ll use, I’ve tossed out two books from our History selection and replaced them with better choices, I’ve had a squiz at the boys’ Math concepts to make sure they are fresh enough in my mind to teach, same goes for Latin, I’ve watched the IEW disk for this week…well you get the picture. Planning and preparation doesn’t mean just noting things on your planner and making sure you have the materials you need. It’s also about making sure the teacher is at least one step ahead of the student. You aren’t one step ahead if you are opening the book on the day and saying, “Well let me just have a look at this first”. That’s a recipe for disaster, just waiting to happen, particularly as the kids get older and the work gets harder.
Finally I place items onto my weekly planner. I place in my outside the home commitments first and make sure to work around them. On a day where we have to leave the house at a certain time we don’t want to have the weight of a full day’s schedule on top of us. So I lighten the load on those days and move the excess to days where we are at home. Then I add in the subjects that are givens every day, like Bible, Math and Language. Finally I shuffle the remaining activities onto days where they’ll work best. I’m always mindful of the time each activity will take so as not to add all the longest activities on one day, but spreading them evenly throughout the week.
Of course, this is just a plan. It’s not written in stone. We aim to complete the activities noted on each day, but I also keep an eye on the day as it unfold and the brain strain of the students. If I happen to see steam leaking out of their ears, it’s usually a signal that things are going to blow if I don’t adjust course and quickly. So sometimes things are left undone. If they are important things, I’ll move them to another day. And if they’re not, we’ll just leave them and move on. It’s not the end of the world.
There you have it – my planning process. Not exactly riveting reading, but perhaps someone needed to see what planning might look like so they can develop and tweak their own ways of doing it.