Homegrown Catholics is an excellent resource for religious education teachers, homeschoolers, and parents. Here you'll see all my lesson plans and project ideas on many Catholic subjects as well as school topics. If you would like to read about my adventures as a Home Educator, click on the St. Brigid's Academy tab above.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Planning to Homeschool - Year 7

  While I'm gearing up for our first day of homeschool, just a few days from now… I find myself spending hours reading, preparing, rescheduling, reprioritizing and redecorating! I'm caught in a whirlwind of thoughts and to do lists. I remember when I had just one student and each moment was spontaneous bouts of learning and fun in everyday life. Now I have three students and two little ones depending upon me to stimulate them at every hour of the day, with an obligation to present formal education materials with intermittent trips, projects and other activities. My greatest challenge is not the number of children, nor is it the curriculum. It is the coordination of myself to teach each subject at varying grade levels and varying learning styles simultaneously, while caring for young ones who just want to play with Mommy. By the Grace of God, I know it can be done.

    Our first day usually begins the day after Labor Day in September. We sleep in, attend a No School Track 'n Field Day with a local homeschool support group, then head back to take a tour of the schoolroom and our new books. We also take pictures and measure in at the height board mounted in our Laundry Room.  The days after that have varied only on what time we awoke and began the day. We got done what we could, and focused more on family time and learning from life.

   But last year, between pregnancy and new baby, and everyone's lack of enthusiasm for bookwork, we never finished our school year. I hoped that this year we'd stay on top of things and be productive.

   So this year, my color coordinated schedule has been pinpointed to the 20-minute interval of who I'm going to help and what book we're going to work on, as well as the number of pages to be completed. So much, that the very thought of an interrupting phone call, sick day or play date is freaking me out! The children have already rummaged through the new books. The schoolroom was new a few weeks ago and has already become tornado valley of toys and crayons.  I feel like my plan is already failing, and it hasn't even began. This frazzled version of me is not me!

Family Circus mom

  So I'm taking a step back today. Reflecting on the positives of prior years and how I can "integrate happiness" into our busy schedule. Is it possible to take complete chaos, organize it, and still have something enjoyable for everyone? Yes.

Planning for a Happy Homeschooling Experience:

1. Create a space that is conductive to learning and fun.
Clean up and start fresh each year. Keep things bright with windows, lighting, wall color, notebooks, decorations, maps, etc. Ask yourself, would l like to go to school here? Read my article about the Homeschool Classroom by clicking on the picture below!
Homeschool Classroom Logo - click it!

2. Measure success by the child, not the checkmarks on the schedule.

We take yearly pictures by the door, and measure on the door frame in the laundry room. The children find this their favorite part of Day 1, because "it's about them." When you ask yourself, why am I homeschooling? Answer "it's all about the children."

"Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

3. Create a schedule that integrates bookwork, activities, group time, and always      leave      spaces!

Magnets allow flexibility…
Daily Planner

See how my current spreadsheet looks more chaotic? It will be if I leave it like this.

4. Always start with prayers, Mass, and/or devotional stories. (You'll need it.)

We begin the day with a devotional story and prayer…
Morning Devotion

5. Then off to the books! Have educational materials to guide your day, not determine it.

6. Plan for Fun!
If you're making a schedule, include space in your day for other wonderful life experiences from trips, visits, fitness, clubs, etc. We'll fill in with gymnastics, field trips, 4H, family, playdates and more! Some take off one day to allow for this, but it is harder as the kids get older and have more bookwork. My plan, make it work because it's important to enjoy life now, not later.

Lake George Park DayTrack and Field Day 2011
Kids Bowl Free - Memorial DayCrystal Gardens Day1
CampfireEastman Nature Center-Bones and Skulls

Simple Homeschool Blog
10 ways to adjust your attitude when you’re homeschooling for the long haul
The worst reason to homeschool
A Day in the Life (of a homeschooler)

The Home School Mom:
  10 Reasons I'm Glad "Back to School" means Homeschooling
  Celebrating Homeschooling with a Not Back-to-School Party

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