So, it’s that time of year again! My favorite time! When I start evaluating how our current year of school has gone, and start looking ahead to planning the next year. I am naturally a planner, so I love, love, love this time of year. Choosing curriculum is like choosing Christmas gifts, and getting the boxes in is like opening the gifts on Christmas day! It’s so much fun! I think anyone who loves homeschooling would agree.
I am an eclectic homeschooler, but my method has grown more fully Charlotte Mason as the years have gone by. I knew I loved the method and wanted to incorporate it as soon as I began reading about it, but it took YEARS of studying about it before I was able to finally make a schedule that truly is what I imagined a Charlotte Mason Education would be. Yet, just like growth in anything, there’s always more to learn and changes to be made that can improve on what was already good. That’s where I am now.
The 2015-2016 school year has been my 11th year of homeschooling. This year I will graduate one of my kiddos. I can hardly believe it! And, next year, I will have a sophomore, a 4th grader, and a preschooler. Each of the rest of my children are 6 years apart in age, so though early in my homeschooling days I was able to combine some subjects for my oldest two (only 3 years apart), I can no longer do this except for what I call “Together Time”. This is first thing in the morning where we study memory verses together and do our “rotation subjects”. (Rotation subjects are usually only done once or twice a week on different days and include: Poetry, Hymn Study, Composer Study, Picture Study, Nature Study, Art, Character, and Shakespeare – if we are studying a play that year). So, now that we only do these things together, it has become increasingly important for me to schedule our day so that I can devote one on one time with each student where they need it, allow independent work where they are capable, and breaks where they interact with the preschooler and/or go outside.
I have several other decisions that I have to make at this time of year, also. Choosing curriculum is the most fun! I’ve already chosen the curriculum I will be using next year and will talk about that in a future post. I also have to decide what activities we will be participating in, whether it be a co-op, music lessons, drama, sports, etc, and what field trips we want to take. I like to plan field trips that somehow relate to what we are learning. I will admit, these decisions are the most difficult to decide, because if I include too much, it thwarts the learning and cuts into our regular school days.
I pray a lot during the process of this planning season. I pray about what curriculum to choose; that my children will not only learn and connect with it, but that it will cause a love for learning deep within them. And, I pray about what activities we should be a part of that will add just the right amount of enjoyment to their year. And, then, I pray that I will be able to write lesson plans that will challenge, but not frustrate. There’s a lot of praying going on for sure! And, right now, I’m in the midst of much of that prayer, seeking His face and His guidance for our year. I know that my time in prayer is the most important, because it’s in the waiting that I listen and go forward with what I feel He is leading. However, I have to admit, sometimes I’m not the most patient in the process of the waiting, and that, in the past, has caused me to make decisions that ended up not being the best choices.
The Homeschool Conference season is just around the corner, and I’m so excited! It’s such a blessing to go and sit through the classes and be reinspired, refreshed, and ready to face the upcoming year. And, then to have the added benefit of browsing all the curriculum at the Curriculum Fair. It is often true that I will have chosen two different types of curriculum for the same subject, and then after being able to see and hold each one in my hands at a fair, I am able to make the best decision. Seeing and touching firsthand is the best! So much fun! And, now that one of my daughters is old enough to volunteer at the Conference and Curriculum Fair, we make an entire weekend of it by renting a hotel and really enjoying a mini get away! It’s such a blast! And, to be able to share it with my daughters is an even bigger bonus!
So, how do you go about planning your homeschool year?