10 November 2008

help for growing families
homeschool planning~


My Plan (ha ha) is to keep this short and sweet. As my Help for Growing Families topic has to do with homeschool planning, it, ahem, only applies to growing families that homeschool. Obviously. Just wanted to clear that up in case there was any confusion.

I've mentioned before how baby number six really derailed me. My life was going along, nice and predictable, and wham! My whole world was thrown up in the air and the dust is really just now settling. Right in time for baby number seven :o) And it wasn't Haven. He was/is an excellent napper, has a calm personality, and is generally a laid back little guy.

I think there were many things that contributed to the whirlwind that came along with the birth of sweet Haven, but one that I have finally identified was that my older kids' schoolwork was requiring more time, effort, and planning. Kindergarten, first, second, third grade, not such a big deal, I could kind of fly by the seat of my pants, but as my olders were getting older (you know you have a big(ish) family when you have olders, youngers, littles, big kids, little kids, first half, second half, etc.!), I was beginning to need to spend more time explaining, teaching, grading, planning, and identifying and dealing with weaker areas. Whereas I used to sit down on a weekend night, go over the prior weeks' work and plan the following week's work, (and it had worked beautifully up until this point,) it was no longer working. At all. I can claim exhaustion, busy-ness, poorly used time, etc. but regardless of the reason, it just wasn't happening. There were too many days when I had a whole line of kids clamoring around me asking me what they had to do today. Not to mention the preschooler, toddler, and baby that were just, well, clamoring.

Anyway, (why can't I ever keep things short!!) for quite a while I had planned on switching to year round schooling as it was just a better fit for our family. I'm the kind of homeschooling Mom that thinks outside play, especially creative play with siblings, has tremendous "educational" value, so on those beautiful spring and fall days and warm winter days when the kids long to be outside, I love for them to be able to go out. Not to mention that southern summers are too hot for much of anything, so it makes a great time for school. I don't know about you, but my kids get b.o.r.e.d. without structure to their days and something to do. We had loosely switched to schooling year round, but the planning thing was still getting to me. I needed a solution. One that worked.

So I came up with a plan. One that so far has been working out really well. It frees up a lot of time for me and works out great with a year round schedule.

My kids each have a school planner where I write out all their daily assignments. We've done this for awhile. (This would actually be my first tip.) That way they can look at each day and see clearly what is expected of them for that day. They mark off each thing as they complete it. No question about if they're done or not.

So I used to sit down, grade work, and write out "lesson plans" weekly. That's what wasn't working out so great anymore. There needed to be more daily oversight. Who wants kids adding improperly for an entire week before it's caught? Not such a good plan.

So this is the new plan. The one that works. I plan out six weeks at a time. And I go over work daily. Or at least every other day. That way, every day's asssignments consists of correcting the previous day's work, plus the new day's work. This allows me to see on a consistent basis what topics need more review and which concepts they are getting. That in turn allows me to tailor their daily assignments to better reflect their needs.

What is really nice about this plan is that every seventh week, we get a week off school, allowing me to catch up on house stuff, errands, and to plan the next six week's worth of school. We also get more time off at Christmas, about a month off in the summer, and there's plenty of time to take I don't feel like doing school today days "sick" days or whatever you want to call them. It's also nice when I can get my aunt to come over and I can go out, sit down at Panera or somewhere and drink hot tea while spreading out all my stuff and doing my planning in peace.

So that would be my tip for growing families that homeschool. I'm not really sure how this will look as my kids get older and their work becomes really challenging, but maybe by then someone with older kids will have written a Help For Growing Families post for Growing Families that Homeschool Little Kids and Really Old Kids. :o)

And just so as not to add to that everyone else is a perfect homeschooler except me lie that I'm convinced every homeschool Mom believes, if you read my previous post, you would know that this time I procrastinated all week long and let the kids watch tv and then I feverishly planned everything out on Sunday, while scarfing down ridiculous amounts of candy. While bribing paying my kids to clean the house. Just so we're clear here that plans are just, you know...plans. I don't want to be one of those homeschooling Moms that is an unattainable picture of perfection :o)


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6 comments:

Amy Shelby said...

Shyla,
Thanks for the post. I tend to do the same types of thing for school planning. A friend of mine and myself actually are doing the same things so we planned out our school year together (the whole year). I have more children (7 ranging from 9 - 6mos. and she has 5 from 5 to 6 mos.) so I had more to plan but everything is on the computer so all it has to do is be tweak each year and only plan the new year for the oldest!) We do school year round and just take off when needed or split one week of school into two weeks depending on the schedule.
I have been participating in Helping Growing Families but don't feel like I have much to give as far as advice. I have to keep searching my brain and I'm sure there is something. We'll see.

Thanks again for sharing!

Anonymous said...

thanks so much. that will be very helpful in the future. next year i'll have a 2nd grader, kindergartener, toddler and new born....and i have no idea how i'm going to do it?!?! i like your idea of planning 6 weeks at a time and having a little planner for each kid.
keep the great ideas coming. i loved the laundry and now school....all i need now is help w/ groceries and food for a large family and i'll be set! ;)

stacey

Anonymous said...

thanks so much. that will be very helpful in the future. next year i'll have a 2nd grader, kindergartener, toddler and new born....and i have no idea how i'm going to do it?!?! i like your idea of planning 6 weeks at a time and having a little planner for each kid.
keep the great ideas coming. i loved the laundry and now school....all i need now is help w/ groceries and food for a large family and i'll be set! ;)

stacey

Heather said...

That's actually pretty close to what I do with my students at school (minus the individual planners....I have 55 kids a day!). I always plan far enough out to be able to see the overall vision (otherwise individual lessons become just that, with no connection to the larger goals of the course/year), but then break it down into manageable chunks. And it looks like we're actually going to year round schedules next year! I'm so excited!!

It's all about keeping your sanity so that you can educate and inspire the kids.

Rebekah said...

Great post! I agree! School always seems to go better when we are consistent to check the work daily. It is hard to spare the time to write out the plans, especially when I know in my head already what they should be doing. But I have the same scenerio when I don't--kids asking, "What do I do? How many pages should we do? Which library books are for me?" etc.

Thanks for sharing!

In the Heart of our Home,
Rebekah

Serene said...

Hey that's what I do too! But I actually plan fore the whole year and thenwe school for 4 weeks and we take off 1 week :) This way I have a mian master plan but it gets tweaked every 4 weeks or so allowing us to catch up or slow down as needed. My problem is keeping up with the grading and catching their mistakes tho :(

Serene

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November