Getting started with planning!
(if the fonts are wacky, I apologize ahead of time. I’m still learning how to use wordpress)
Glad to see you! Did you print out your calendar and bring it with you? Good!
(If you’re just joining us, you’ll need a 2008-2009 at-a-glance calendar today. You can print out pages 8-9 from the Schoolhouse Planner, or print one from an online calendar creator if you like. See previous post to this one for links to the Schoolhouse Planner and a calendar creator website.)
Now just put it down for a few moments, for we’re going try to do things in order… and the first thing to do is to consider what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. Helps with motivation.
Webster’s 1828 defines “plan” as “a scheme devised; a project; the form of something to be done existing in the mind, with the several parts adjusted in idea, expressed in words or committed to writing.”
Wow! Committed to writing!
Part of planning is goal-setting. Do you find that a scary word?
But slow down, take a deep breath, and do the next thing, which is actually the *first* thing!
You have two assignments today, one is to get an overview of planning, and the other is to start to plan.
First things first! Let’s stop to pray! Consider these scriptures as you begin:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10)
(I’m not advocating taking verses out of context. It’s good to read the surrounding context as you consider the verse.)
Have you prayed? Have you submitted your plans to the Lord? I’m asking Him right now for wisdom, for you and for me, and for clarity and guidance and relief from fear and anxiety for you if you find planning a daunting task.
For the rest of the day I’d like you to consider your target. If your children are arrows in your quiver, what is your aim? What kind of arrows should they be when released? Think about the kind of adults you want them to be. That’s your goal, and you’ll be working backward from there to determine the steps you’ll be taking between now and then.
Now for a bit of concrete planning. We’ll ease into things, don’t worry, but this is important to establish your plan. Remember that calendar for 2008-2009. It’s time to get it out. Also take a piece of paper divided into twelve boxes, write your “start” month in the first box, and follow it with the rest of the months in your academic year. On this piece of paper you’re going to write the important events that happen each month. If a baby’s due, put it down! For our family, I’d put birthdays, our anniversary, our local homeschool convention, Outdoor School, camping, county fair, the months when our co-op is in session, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Even if I don’t have the date, I know our homeschool science class has Outdoor School the last part of May or first part of June, and that we want to go camping sometime in July. This is part of your framework.
Many states consider a school year to be 180 days. (I remember our school year in the Midwest was longer, because of snow days. We get snow days here in the Pacific NW not because our family can’t get to school–it’s right at home, after all–but because we want to play in the snow while it lasts! It’s also a great time to snuggle under a blanket together, read aloud, and sip hot cider or hot chocolate. But I digress.)
Think about this. If you were to take two weeks off and have a four-day academic week the rest of the year, that would make 200 days!
Mark off obvious holidays. (Um. We do academics on some holidays when the government schools are out. We observe some holidays that the institutional schools don’t. You have flexibility here.) Do you have a regular family vacation? Block that out.
You can have a four-day week, with a fifth day for errands and outside activities, or you can have a five-day or even a six-day week. You don’t even have to limit yourself to “only” 180 academic days a year. I know at least one family that has “school” six days a week, year round, with a month off for Christmas and several scattered weeks off the rest of the year for hunting, camping, and county and state fair. I know another family that takes a week off at the end of every month to catch up on domestic affairs and tackle special projects.
When you think about it, learning is going on *all* the time if you’re trying to maintain an atmosphere of learning or learning lifestyle. But bureaucrats require schedules, and schedules can also keep you on track, making sure you’re deliberate about your children’s learning.
With an eye on your “framework” try to sketch out a schedule of days when you’re committed to do some sort of formal academics. Some families are more structured than others, and I expect these won’t have too much trouble knocking out a school calendar. I know some families that have their days scheduled from dawn until bedtime, and they probably aren’t reading this! Many homeschoolers of my acquaintance, including our family, do at least math and phonics lessons, set aside time for writing and musical instrument practice, and read aloud together in addition to independent reading on the part of older students.
Even during a time when I was very ill and we were for all practical purposes unschooling, having the knowledge it was a “school day” kept my children from running wild and goofing off all day–the words “school day” made them feel as if they ought to pursue something productive, to have something to show for the day.
When you’re done with this pencil-and-paper exercise, you’ll have a “school year schedule” and an idea of seasons and interruptions.
See you next time! (As the Lord allows.)
For extra credit:
Let’s sit down and consider a few questions. It might be good to write out the answers to help clarify your thoughts. I get intimidated when faced with writing things down, so I do it in pencil (I’m giving myself permission not to let perfectionism get in the way. I can erase!).
What are you planning? (academics, meals, daily schedule, fitting it all in, etc.)
Why are you planning? (Possible answers range from: “I like planning!” –you probably have it all done already! to “I hate planning, but last year was a disaster.”)
Why should we plan? (You could list a lot of answers to this question. Search in a concordance for Bible references to “plan” for a start.)