It’s that time of year again, and we are all gathering supplies, checking or favorite websites and bloggers for inspiration, maybe flipping through a few catalogs or looking at some magazines for inspiration.
I’ve been through this a time or two (or fifteen) now and I thought I could share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the years about how to approach your lesson planning for the year. I’d love to hear your ideas and comments so consider this a jumping off point and please do share your own tips!
- Never use ink. Many is the time I’ve filled in the lesson plan books (cause I’m a paper and pen kinda girl) and no sooner than two weeks in, something changes and now I’m scratching out stuff and writing in teeny letters above what I’ve scratched out, and yes, it’s a big mess. Once it’s a mess I don’t even want to look at it. Use a pencil. Use a nice sharp, good quality pencil that you can erase. Because you know what? You are going to goof up, or something is going to change or you won’t begin where you think you will, or something. To be a homeschool mom is to be flexible and you can’t be flexible in ink. If you need to write in pretty colors, buy those fancy erasable colored pencils.
- Plan two weeks at a time, tops. My second year in I spent hours upon hours planning the whole year. Writing it all out in lesson books, one for each child and what do you think happened? Two weeks in we were hit with the stomach bug, which took three weeks to get through the whole house and left my plans in tatters. I had to readjust the whole year (and yes it was in ink, dang it) and all that work had to be rejiggered. What a pain. Now I plan for two to four weeks at a time, that way if we get hit with a bug, or a friend needs help, or God forbid, someone dies and we need a few days off, the whole year isn’t off kilter, scratched out and a giant mess. It’s way easier to adjust two weeks than nine months.
- Plan some liturgical observances. At the beginning of each month look at the calendar and pick a feast day or saint day to enjoy with the kids. Plan a special meal, dessert, craft or outing based upon that and plan to do it early in the day. If you say, “we will do this after the school work is done” it will probably never happen. If you plan it as soon as everyone gets up (yes before breakfast is an option depending on what you want to do) then it gets done and you all feel happy that you did it. Some great resources for this kind of thing are Shower of Roses, Family, Feast and Feria and Waltzing Matilda.
- Plan some time outside. A nature walk, time at a botanical garden or even pumpkin picking. Observe the world as God created and instill a sense of awe and wonder in your children for God’s creation. How amazing is it that a tiny acorn becomes a tree or that a tadpole becomes a frog. It’s all so miraculous and so easy to take for granted.
- Include one teacher service day semester. Read about it here. I don’t care how organized you are, you are going to need a day to catch up, clean up and assess where the kids are as to where they are supposed to be. At least one of these planned days per semester can save a lot of grief come the end of the year.
Based on my experience (and I realize many of you have a great deal more experience than I do), those little things can help ensure a less stressful year for everyone.
There have been some questions on Facebook about my dishpan planning method, I’ll be periscoping about that tomorrow morning. Check on my Facebook page to find out when.