Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2013 Fall Planning :: An Overview

It's definitely that time of year--planning time!

Honestly, I've been planning since the end of May.  Nothing major, at first.  It started with me going back and re-reading the blog posts I shared at the beginning last school year.  I was also posting for other homeschooling families in my local group as we were doing a series of workshops about planning, scheduling, mapping, record keeping, etc.  Here are just three of the ones I read again today.  You can find them here, here, and here if you're interested. (smile)

Part of this initial planning time has included evaluation--a look at what worked well and what may need to be adjusted or thrown out!  I was talking to another homeschooling mom about this the other day and she was taken by surprise.  She didn't really expect me to be doing this.  From her experience/perspective evaluation is reserved for testing your kids.  I am not sure why this is the only use of the word nowadays--perhaps it has a lot to do with our test-centered learning models in public education. (tongue sticking way out of cheek!)  Anyway, I went on to explain that this is only one type of evaluation and that as homeschooling parents, and, well, parents in general, we use these skills and techniques on a daily basis: to figure out what meal to prepare, what time our children should go to bed, when the best time to do a particular activity, etc.  Sometimes it is a bit of trial and error, other times we 'dial a friend' or family member, still other times we go with our intuition or our prior knowledge based on our experiences.

Evaluation is just a natural part of learning and growing--whether you use that term or not (smile)!

This year we did a good number of unit studies.  At the beginning of the year, I wanted to do more lapbooks with the kids and use them as a way to chronicle our unit study information.  It was a whole lot of work--probably a bit more than I initially expected.  However, it was SO worth it!  Our pace did slow down a good bit.  We didn't cover nearly as much as I had thought or even planned for.  But one of the great things I enjoy so much about homeschooling is the flexibility.  We will continue to work on those topics that we didn't get do.

Another plug for lapbooking -- each of my children retained so much more than we did the previous year with simply reading and doing an activity or two.  The lapbooks can be taken out and used to "present" to the grandparents and other guests (my children love sharing what they've learned and how they've put it together).  Please also note that if you'd like your children to get the most out of lapbooking, wait until they're old enough to make them themselves.  I've seen plenty of 'parent made lapbooks' and although they are lovely and show well, I often wonder how much the children actually remember/retain.  Yes, it did take me awhile to get over the 'how will this look' thing--but it's their work.  They'll learn how to cut and fold from cutting and folding.  Just my 7 cents. (smile)

I have been blessed, yet again, by one of my teaching friends with plenty of the basic supplies and some teaching resources.  I actually don't need the resources--so will be sharing them with a few other families who are homeschooling in the area.  I have been looking through them though and gathering ideas.  Right now I'm liking all the ways to record books for comprehension purposes and way to incorporate book reports other than the 'standard' way we all remember from school.

I've also been up to my neck in history resources.  I will devote an entire post to this subject as I'm seeing how important it to our homeschooling journey.

Needless to say, my dining room has been turned into a mini office/classroom space with stacks all around the room of books and other resources.  I haven't yet taken out my calendars to start scheduling things but I am reading and putting myself in a creative space to find ideas to capture our learning in a few new ways this time around.

Later this week, I'm planning to have a little meeting with the children.  I'll ask them what they enjoyed about what we did last year and what things they'd like to do again.  I'll also listen to hear what new interests they have.  I regularly ask them to make lists of topics and activities they'd like to learn about/learn to do.  Each year I try to incorporate at least three things from each of their lists into our learning time.  As they grow and become more independent, my goal is to let those lists lead them in their own pursuits in learning (i.e. independent study).

The more time I give myself, the more thorough I can be in planning.  Yes, it does take a lot more in building my own curriculum but I feel like I have a better handle on what we're doing.  Perhaps this is more about the actual time I take to plan--identifying, locating, reading through, writing down/out, revisiting, revising, you get what I'm saying, right?!  I do feel better prepared and better able to make adjustments as they come up--for we all know they will.

So, how is your planning coming along?  What new things are you looking to incorporate into your homeschool this year?  Will you be building your own curriculum or using one already prepared?  I'd love to hear what's going on in your home.  If you blog, leave your link.  If not, add a comment.

For those who may be new to this whole homeschooling thing, or new to the idea that planning is an intrical part of homeschooling, I am starting a new series of posts that will be shared over the next several weeks about what things you should be doing now in preparation for starting.  Do check back soon.

Happy Home Learning!

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