Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Our homeschool planner

I was so excited when I downloaded this lesson planner!  We would be organized!  I wouldn't be rushing around at the last minute gathering books and supplies for a project or lesson!  We would be intentional about our outings and celebrating the changing seasons!  It would be a game changer.  I just knew it.

But then, at the beginning of August, I sat down with my blank planner.  And I froze.  Where to begin?  I had all these grand ideas and plans and intentions, and how would they fit into each neat little box?  How in the world would I plan an outdoor field trip for November when I had no idea how harsh the weather might be?

Then I took a breath.  I reminded myself that this wasn't a plan set in stone.  It was meant to be a flexible guide.  I traded my pen for a pencil and eraser.  On a scrap piece of paper, I jotted down the things that I wanted us to make time for...a monthly field trip out to a nature reserve...the equinoxes and the solstices...major holidays.  Next, I noted the things that I needed to accomplish at any given time of the year...gardening, preserving, sewing, hitting the once-a-month grocery store sales.  Lastly, I scribbled down the topics I wanted to cover during the year...the first part of the year being focused on the body and the second half of the year covering more Canadian history.

Referring to my list of things to accomplish, I started to slot items into the calendar.  Nature hikes outside the city...the middle of the month sounded good, as there are very few mid-month holidays to distract us from reaching our goal.  I wrote these into the calendar for each month. 

The fall equinox...I noted the date and referred to All Year Round for some projects we could do, which include reading St. George and the Dragon, making harvest bread, decorating candles, and crafting a harvest ring.  All of this would require a little pre-work on my part, so I also set aside time  in the calendar for gathering materials well in advance.  While I was perusing the projects, I noted the materials I would need to find, and once I added the supplies for our body science experiments, I had quite a unique back-to-school shopping list.

While I couldn't plan exactly when I would be preserving fruit or veggies from the garden, I kept in mind that most of my nights would likely be occupied with all things food.  Which was why I strived so hard to know what projects we were going to do and get the supplies well in advance - I could spend my evenings in the kitchen instead of at the shopping mall.

I wrote into our planner any daytime activities I knew were already scheduled - Nature Club, Birds of Prey Club, our homeschool coop, Jaelyn's art class.  Then I wrote in project time for the afternoons when we would be home.  I want to keep this time sacred and fairly consistent, so it can be something my children look forward to.   

And, finally, I started to write down the formal bookwork we would be doing for the month of September and October. 

It took quite a bit of time to massage the entries in the planner until it felt right.  I was hauling it and all sorts of books with me on our vacations and to football practices, as well as revisiting it on evenings when I had free time.  It's still growing and evolving, but it's nice to know that at least the next couple of months have been thought out and taken care of.

Now, our planner looks a bit like this...

It is full, I admit, but I think I've done a good job of making sure the activities we want most for our children - being in nature, having space to follow their own passions and interests, time with friends - is honoured.

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