The photo: His name is Jumpy.
Not the boy.
He is the closet thing we have to a pet right now.
Not the rabbit:)
So I am using this week to do some long term planning for our homeschool year.
John David and I learned our lesson when we went to the Homeschool Expo just to "look around."
Looking around without a plan = we spend too much money.
(The same thing happens when I go into a scrapbook store too....hmmm.)
Here is what I do to asses what we already have:
I look through all our books - reference, picture books, early readers, my books from college.
* I look through them to see if there is anything in them we are going to study in science or history or art.
*Even though David is well beyond the picture book and early reader stage,
some of those books about sharks or the planet or Alexander the Great we bought him when he was 5 can be very helpful illustrations of what we are going to study this year.
* I also look for books that are about a certain time period we are going to study
were written in that time period.
* I am always surprised, every year, at how much we already have that I can use.
I like to do some searches through my Family Fun Magazine and my Martha Stewart Kids Magazine.
* (Or both of the web sites).
* I always find plenty of crafts and science experiment ideas.
* Some of the crafts may be relevant to a history lesson: like making a Pilgrim hat.
Or it may be helpful because it is the type of craft that children would have made during that time: like making a corn husk doll.
* The science experiments are always fun.
* This year we are going to study Earth Science.
I keep a list of topics we will learn about and as I find things in the magazine or on line that relate - I jot down where to find them when it comes time to do the lesson.
* Also, I keep a list of items I will need for the crafts.
That way, I can hit the craft store once instead of running there each week to purchase items...or worse...putting off doing a lesson because I still need to buy a few things.
Most of what I do, I need very little supplies. If I am going to have to buy more than a few things for an experiment - it better be amazing!
* And I keep bins of lids, containers and random things that most people toss out or would recycle to use in our crafts, experiments or just to let the kids build things with.
(Packing foam blocks can be carved into totem poles, plastic caps can become wheels, a play-dough container holds paint as they mix it. Think in terms of how you can recycle things for your own use. Kids are already great at this...have you ever seen a child pick up a wrapping paper tube? In their mind it instantly becomes something.)
* By keeping this list of items you'll need - it will help you to remember to ask for your groceries in paper bags one week because you'll need those bags for costumes later on.
I look through our toys.
* Games that teach reading, math or other skills.
* Puzzles of the world, or other things that you may be reading about.
* Maybe you have astronaut figures and you'll study about the moon or the moon landing this year.
I spend some time thinking about each child and what they specifically need.
* I know my kids are all different, but I have to remind myself to personalize their education to meet their needs and interests. I mean - that is one of the cool things about homeschooling - right?
* Ex: I have just included Max (going into 1st) in David (6th) and Alex's (4th) science and history lessons. If he got something out of it - fine. If not, that was ok too. Well, this year that will not work. Max will study Earth Science as well, but in a different context. A much easier context.
* I try to approach subjects through each child's learning style and utilizing their interests. In history, David always draws his "notes" and ends up with a stick figure account of the lesson. Alex does not like to draw as much. I have already taught him how to take notes in outline form.
I do some long term and short term planning now.
* I put some plans down for what we need to accomplish each quarter to stay on track.
I can not tell you enough how this keeps me focused on the big picture.
* I plan out about 4 weeks pretty specifically and the next 2 weeks lightly. I never stay on the 6 weeks perfectly. We always seem to get ahead in some areas and behind in others. (Ex: I plan for the kids to do 2 math pages a day but fail to realize the 7 times tables might just bump us from that neat little plan.)
* I do this for me mostly. It is overwhelming to think about planning each day every day. But to spend 2 hours planning the next 4-6 weeks...that is doable and saves me loads of future stress.
Assess yourself. What are you capable of?
* I am no help to anyone at 3:00 in the afternoon in learning something new. So I never plan to teach the kids anything then. That is when we make appointments or I sign them up for chess.
* Protect your schedule. Dude. When I started homeschooling, I got invited to be a
part of so many groups and got like 4 Bible Study invites. I could have filled up my day with things that were not teaching my kids. And many of them were good things.
Anyway. That is what I doing this week.
If you have a tip for how you do your planning - I'd love to hear it. You don't have to be a homeschooler, either.