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Planning, planning, planning…
That is what I am doing now. Planning ahead for the new homeschool year. When it comes to the new school year, kids are very happy while I am very busy. Planning ahead for the new homeschool year will ease our days of homeschooling a lot.
We have just been homeschooling our children for 7 semester, but we have already changed our planning styles and methods at the same number of half the time. However, last year we started to be more settled with our planning steps that I posted in Our Homeschooling Planning. Whatever methods, tools, and system we use, we would use similar steps of planning
Review and reconstruct your vision and missions of homeschooling
This is the most important points in planning for our homeschooling from the root. Departed from the vision and missions of homeschooling, we can evaluate what we have done and project what we are going to do in the coming homeschooling years. Thus, your homeschooling plan will focus on the area that you need to improve so that your missions will be accomplished one by one in the very limited time. What I mean by the very limited time is that you are not going to homeschool forever and ever. There will be a time for you to stop homeschooling and the time is not as long as what you think.
Consider what your children need and want
One beauty of homeschooling is that the ability to customize the lessons based on the children's needs. The worry of most homeschooling mom is that whether their children can catch up the standard of schooling or not. It often annoys me when I plan the lessons. It depends on how you choose for the curriculum or the curriculum that you make by yourself. I usually consult with my husband about what children need and match them with the national standard. I also consult my children about what they want to learn. Just combine the result. In choosing curriculum, Always keep in mind that the desired result should be the same as most of curriculum and the common cores supposed to be, but the process might be different.
Think about the studying load
Set your daily schedule in a logical portion. Younger children would be better learning in shorter amount of time as their ability to concentrate has not been developed. The concentration ability will develop slowly but sure as the children is getting older. I am not going to say that it happens the same with all children. My eldest son might have similar concentration ability with his seven years old cousin. Every children is unique in their growth and development, so that we should not compare them with others. The fact that they grow is something certain although the growing speed is different. We get the benefit of homeschooling by having ability to track the growth of children in many ways rather than a teacher in a classroom that has to pay attention to many students. If you find children cannot reach your concentration expectation, don't be too stressful, but you might slow down or hold back and increase the study load more slowly.
Get the academic area balance with the social and emotional areas
On my first year of homeschooling, we spent to much time in the extra activities. The result was that we were too exhausted to go out of house. I was too worried about the socialization of my homeschooled children. Spending too much time indoors is also not good for children's physical growth. Therefore, setting the playing and learning are will be an important part of planning. How lucky we are that we have the freedom of learning in any place, time, and ways. I would like to suggest you to use this freedom as well in planning for your school year. Children down't learn in a closed classroom all of the time. They might learn in other place than classroom. However, parents should know best about this as not every child can learn in open area. Some children have short concentration ability so that they cannot learn in certain condition.
Plan for the field trip, arts, bible and hands on activities in advance
I often neglect some not compulsory subjects in my planning. I have underestimated arts, bible lesson, and field trip the planning process. Please don't follow what I have done. I usually skip those activities thinking that they can be ongoing through the year. In the end, I usually forget to include them. What a shame it is. As much as you can, just include them in your planning. Although you might skip them on the way, you still know what you suppose to do. It is very suggested that you would also prepare the materials to stand by at the time you need them. Otherwise, you might not do the activities as you have never been ready with the materials indeed.
Try to get full planning as much as you can
Last 2 years I use full electronic planner for the lesson and use manual planner for field trip and experiment materials. Using some electronic planner, I often don't realize that the lessons of certain subject have finished before the school year planned to finish. Planning in the middle of the school terms made me very reluctant to think. As the result, we didn't get much for the year. There were a lot of holes in the daily lessons and finally we just wasted a lot of time. In case you have more things in the planning, you just need to skip or delay them for the next time, but you will have more great time to share with your children.
Involve others in planning
This is a way to muffle the negative responses toward homeschooling. By being involved in homeschooling activities, people will have a better understanding towards homeschooling. In other words, involving others is similar with educating the society about homeschooling. Of course we should not wish that people will change in a sudden. When the expert knows their schedule, he or she will prepare for the activities much better so that everyone will enjoy them much better. It will also gives good image to others.
Collect the full year materials if it is possible
This is what I always try to do as soon as the planning process finishes. Lack of materials in the middle of daily lessons will lead us to skip the activity. Collecting the materials in the beginning of the period will make the homeschooling lesson smoother as we don't need to go to other place to get any books, experiment materials, hands on resources to go on with the learning process. However, please be careful with any materials that can be rotten or expired. We need to think further about this case so that our preparation won't be disappointing.
Consider the use of electronic and manual planners
On our first 2 years of homeschooling, we use manual planners as we though it was easier to bring and change. However, we have changed in this couple of years. We use electronic planner that ease ourselves to organize our days and goals. There are a lot of options about electronic planners that I have researched. You might visit my post about electronic planners published last year. There are more electronic planners for homeschooling right now that you might consider. If you prefer some manual planner, you might think about Hedua Well Planned Day planner which is great for The USA homeschoolers to get. If you are not USA residence, you might prefer some printable planners that doesn't need any shipping fee. Have a look at a collection of homeschool planners.
Give some slots of being flexible
Full planning is very important to make sure that your schedule is not going to be broken up. However, please give some time slots for you and family to use as an alternative time, but don't be too much. Try to stick to the plan as much as possible to make sure you get the best result you desire. I can say this is as a flexibility inside discipline. We give each child a list of assignments or activities they need to do in a week. They should finished certain amount of time and subjects in 5 week days. If they cannot finish in the weekdays, then they need to try as much as they can to finish on Saturday. Saturday is our slot of being flexible. It sounds not flexible at all, but we want them to get responsible to themselves as they are growing into teenagers right now. Of course it would be different when you have different ages of children and if you have multiple ages children.
To celebrate the new academic year, 2014-2015, you might get a FREE COPY of Student Planner, Homeschooling Planner, and 80 pages of combo camping unit if you subscribe over to my blog, Blessed Learners.
Reading this post, you might be interested To read more about the series of 5 Days of New Homeschool Year Preparation, please click the picture bellow: