Continuing the habit of sharing a helpful habit on Fridays, today I’m answering a friend’s question: When do you plan for school and how long does it take? For several years now I have looked forward to annual planning and goal setting – on vacation over the summer. I do this while watching the sunrise, cup of coffee in hand. I’m away from home, relaxed and often have a new perspective. With five children, I devote one morning to each child. Anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour to just jot down ideas and God prompts. Not only do I consider academics but life skills, character training. I also take a morning to set goals for myself and my marriage.
I detail this with many examples in this post: Mama on Vacation: Annual Planning and Goal Setting.
As mothers we sometimes live in the urgent. This hungry child, that weepy one, another needing a push on the swing…However, it’s beneficial to step out of the urgent into the quiet, out of our regular spot and look to our source of strength. Jesus set the example. (Luke 4: 42-43)
We had so much fun making Christmas cookies this week!
So the annual planning I do takes roughly 7-8 hours spread out over one week. Then, once I’m back home I pull out that spiral notebook, ready the tools and implement the plans. Prepping just a little a day over the summer. 15 minutes planning, 15 minutes printing. Half an hour a day. This is explained in more detail in Readying Tapestry Plus the Rest (on our old site).
Once I have the plans, curricula and goals in mind, I map them out in a loose structure. I have our daily habits already in place. Then I reserve library books for Tapestry of Grace about monthly. I leave room for God. And I stay aware of changing needs. I do not stress if we don’t check something off one day.
Then, (ideally) each week, 8th, 7th and sometimes 4th grader and I hold a weekly Tapestry of Grace meeting. We talk about what we are learning, reading, writing that week. Fill in assignment sheets. This is what I appreciate about Tapestry. The building of independent learning and research skills. We have a loose schedule of completing history, writing, arts and activities, geography and other Tapestry assignments on particular days of the week.
I also spend time planning on Friday afternoons, thinking ahead to the next week.
Last year I gave myself permission to use the family room mantle to feature our current reading. Why not? It’s right there in the middle of everything. And it’s pretty besides. A sampling of summer reading, above.
I’ve shared before about our family room bookshelves. One for history, one for science and nature and one for Bible resources. I explain our loose organization in All Things Chalkboard. The children know where the resources are and the shelves are similar to learning centers. What we need is within reach.
This was the week of guides. One day Middle Girl pulled out all the nature field guides and everyone picked a favorite to browse. These two, above, have paired up often to read the Answers in Genesis Zoo Guide, Aquarium Guide and Museum Guide.
I also take some time over Christmas break – mid-school year – to plan and refresh our homeschool goals. Plan for the next semester, next unit. Now that I think about it, I will implement the same summer planning habit over Christmas break. With my morning coffee I can reassess plans and goals for each child. Fifteen minutes to half an hour each early morning for each child. The rest of the day enjoying the break with family.
Another question: When do you prepare workboxes for the little ones?
Over the summer and again over Christmas break, I update my stack of resources for workboxes. Maybe order a new something. Inspired by Kendra’s How to Keep Workboxes from Running Your Life, I print a few Five in A Row lapbook materials from Homeschool Share, maybe some Pinterest finds that compliment our studies and more. Monthly/quarterly I print the ebook unit studies we enjoy as a family and place copies in individual binders. Nature study, music and art.
Our basic workboxes remain the same. We just rotate the order. The workboxes make a nice visual for each activity/subject I do with our youngest two. And, let’s face it, they are great storage. All of Saxon K in one spot. All the math manipulatives in one workbox. I talk more in-depth about our preschool and workbox habits in these posts:
- What About the Little Ones? Preparing for a New Preschool Year
- Helpful Habit: Little Ones First
- Helpful Habit: Morning Room Time
This week we finished our Answers in Genesis unit study of the Human Body! Above, we are comparing fingerprints to determine if ours are arch, loop or whorl.
In summary, I set aside twice a year for school planning. I make plans counting on God to direct me. I leave room for chasing ideas. For living math. But our helpful habits remain the same.
We should make plans – counting on God to direct us. Proverbs 16:9
- All our Hodgepodge Curricula here. Layers and levels of unit studies work best for us.
Wonderful homeschool reading and encouragement in these posts from friends:
- Barb-Harmony Art Mom’s Homeschool Planning – Procrastination “We can say that our family and faith are top priority and then fill our days with activities that show otherwise. We can put homeschooling high up on the first list but then by our actions show something very different. This sort of rocked my thinking…”
- Angie @ Petra School’s Do the Next Thing “Are you forecasting into the list of 40 items and feel defeated before you start? Write them down. Set them aside. Can you do the first item on the list. Good. Now do the next thing.”
- Kim’s Schooling Well “I pray that I would be found faithful… and that I prepared them well.”
- Cindy’s Homeschooling Seriously “I’m encouraging you to realize the awesome responsibility you’ve been given and honor the Lord with it.”
A quick Camera Phone look at our week: 1. The weather has been balmy and gorgeous. We enjoyed a nature study when a millipede interrupted math. | 2. Home Blessing time! | 3. Cookies for monthly homeschool moms meeting – this time a cookie swap | 4. Thank you note from local Christian radio station’s Kevin & Taylor (addressed to Middle Girl for her Junior Joker and Weather Kid spots) says “Give mom a hug for being mom AND teacher!” | 5. Love homeschool! Reading the Beginners Bible as part of Before 8:45 checklist | 6. Time for Tabitha’s Travels
Many thanks to our Friday hostesses…Camera Phone Friday hostess Dawn Camp @ My Home Sweet Home and…
Weekly Wrap-Up hostess Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Now, if you have any tips for planning as we head into high school, I’d love to hear them! Or what are your school planning habits?
Angie W says
Love this post. “We have our daily habits in place”. I have been working on setting up Homeschool Tracker again, this time for a bit of long term record keeping as oldest starts his Ninth Grade work in January. It was helpful to practice by putting in our first semester of learning into the computer and watching it grow to quite a long list! I input our plans to see how much work may need to be accomplished each week to be able to cover the material by the end of the year. I found that we were ahead in many topics. I will keep the Lesson Plan sheets for me, as a guide to help me focus my days. I cleaned out their workboxes last week while inputting lesson plans. It’s good time to just resift. pull out art projects, clean up pastel messes, (is it just me?), and keep the goals fresh in my mind, academically, spiritually, character and skills.
Angie – I have been looking and looking at Homeschool Tracker. Do I understand it now works with mac or your can run it in virtual pc mode? That must be rewarding to enter your plans and see the list grow! I agree, this time of year is a good time to cull, reshift and refocus. It is not just you – I always say pastels are blessedly messy! Thanks Angie!
P.S. – Asking about Homeschool Tracker because my 8th grader is earning credits now in Latin, photography, etc.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom says
We are so on the same wavelength this week….just posted my version of a planning post just now. Angie emailed me to point out that you posted on the same topic. Too funny.
Loved reading your post and I will be adding the link to my post. 🙂
Tricia, thank you for all of these greatideas-again-your wisdom helps me-as I make changes in our homeschool.
Jessy at Our Side of the Mountain says
It’s interesting to see how others plan! I’ve already been planning for next school year – NEXT FALL! LOL – with my homeschool friend. (We’re both starting high school next fall with our oldests.) Of course this is just choosing new curricula mostly right now.
Jeri Taira says
Fun, food, and spirit in photos. Visiting over from Dawn’s place. God Bless.
Phyllis at All Things Beautiful says
Great resource of planning ideas! I especially like the book mantle idea. It is so pretty and usable.
Angie Wright says
I put everything from the workboxes back into our resource room. I have the table cleaned off in there post – craft extravaganzas. I like to make a notebook page for each boy, pray, and write out the goals for the next 6 months. I want to ask if we are still to be on the same path of learning. The last two years I felt the need to continue deeper in the second half of the year. Prior years I felt the need to shift history or geography plans all together. This was how we found Harmony Art Mom’s pkgs, the prayer to change our Composer studies.
I agree with keep it simple, especially in December. Mornings in the resource room. Setting their boxes to ready, lesson goals planned out on spiral bound paper.
Thanks for taking the time to share how you approach your planning. It has helped me (we think alike) to get the ideas out of my head and onto paper-well, a start at least. I took a section of craft paper and draped it across the table so that I had about 3 ft by 2 ft of writing space and just let the ideas flow without trying to keep them any more organized than by Topic, Resource, Kid. The next morning I was able to add to it and right now it’s pinned to the hallway wall near my kitchen so that I see it often. Having the visual has reminded me of resources that I hadn’t listed and a few other things.
Now I am using my notebook to start by topic and list what we are going to do and what resources we already have. From there I will add activities to the lesson planner and kid’s planners weekly. Or at least that’s the plan right now. This post and several linked from here have been very helpful and I wanted you to know that you have blessed me, thanks!
Kelly! I am SO pleased to hear this! Yes, we do think alike. I agree about the visual and just letting ideas ‘flow’ – this very much prompts me to remember things we already have and could use on a certain subject. Blessings on your continued planning and your upcoming school year. And thank you for taking the time to let me know.