Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Another new approach

    This time of year I mostly find us coasting through the end of our summer waiting for all the local public schools to go back to school.  I start looking ahead to what I consider the start of our school year.  Though, we do homeschool year round I still think of fall as back to school time and that's when we start implementing new plans.  You know, those plans I never seem to follow....  I'm always hopeful that we will follow them though and so around this time of year, I spend a few weeks planning.  I'm not so sure I've ever been as hopeful as I am this year that we may, in fact, keep these plans.  I'm always eager for our school year to start and see where it leads us, but this year I think I want to take a more traditional approach and lead our school year.  While I have always made the boys do some form of math and reading everyday, I also want to start incorporating all other subjects in a more routine manner.  I have a planner that I am just loving thanks to An Intentional Life!  I've modified her version slightly but used her basic calendars and daily routine pages to outline a typical day in both my life and in the boys lives.  I know there are days the schedule will go out the window and we'll head out on a field trip or run some errands or something but I like knowing that the days we are home will be a bit more routine.  The boys' schedule have times listed on them as well and I've warned them that they'll be held accountable.  Come 9:30 if they aren't ready for school and housework there will be consequences. 
    We sat down together and went over everything yesterday morning; the subjects I want to see us working on more, how I plan to modify those subjects we already cover, the daily routine, etc. and welcomed them to ask questions, voice opinions and tell me what they'd like to spend their year learning about.  I can't say I'm one of those lucky homeschooling families; you know the ones you run into that say their kids beg them to work on school, the ones who say their kids fly through workbooks "because they just love them!"   The ones whose kids are years ahead of their public school peers.  And (dare I say it?) the ones who make all us regular homeschoolers feel like failures.  This year I'm determined to do more with the boys.  I'm afraid being more set in our schoolwork/ routine might make us less flexible but I'm prepared to deal with that as it comes and make adjustments if necessary. 
    I thought it would take me a few weeks to get everything down into my new planner, especially since Alec had two of his friends over for the entire day yesterday, but, amazingly enough, having those two friends over gave all the boys someone to play with and I had such amazing behaviors that I managed to sit and get my whole planner done.  We're experimenting with lots of changes this coming school year.  First off I only planned lessons from Sept- June.  We're going to try a bit more of a traditional school schedule with a much lighter, fun- centered summer session where we'll sprinkle in school work and projects as the boys like.  I'm hopeful that time off will make them more productive on school days.  We're also looking at a 4 day workweek with Friday built in as a catch up day, an errand day, or a field trip day as needed.   Rather than studying every subject each week we're blocking our subjects off so that we cover them all by the end of the month.    
A sample month's brief outline

   We're participating in a homeschool 50 state post card exchange so each month we'll cover 5 states and spend one whole week on U. S. Geography.  We'll spend one week on Science (and I'm trying to pick a theme for each of the science weeks too-- we can't wait for Lego science week!).  We'll spend one week a month on History and alternate between U.S. History and World History.  For that 4th week we'll cover some world geography or have an extra science or history week.  We'll still cover math and reading everyday and we're going to add in some writing at least twice a week and some spelling lessons twice a week.  On paper it all looks doable but until we try it all out with our daily walk, our chores, our art projects, our play groups, etc., I won't know for sure.  All I know is that we're all pretty excited! 
    I wrote out a brief outline for the entire year and then did a slightly more detailed outline for our first month of school.  I've already had to juggle a few things around since I forgot to add our homeschool get togethers, accommodate for Labor day, and dentist's appointments, etc.  But I know this will keep happening over the course of the school year anyway.  I just hate that when I have my planner staring me in the face all of our learning activities become something we have to get through so we can check them off and accomplish everything I've planned.  I'm hoping to take a slightly more laid back approach this year and not get caught up in the time it's taking us to complete projects but we'll see.  I do write everything in pencil so it's easy to change and fix when that compulsion to have everything look perfect overcomes me.  Wish us luck!  We start right after Labor day! 
 
 

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