Planning Our Homeschool Year: Contemplation

I have a new outlook on planning and scheduling thanks to a dynamite guest post on Afterthoughts: using a time-based schedule. It is another paradigm shift to schedule with time instead of page counts. (And I’ve gotten to where I love paradigm shifts – so exciting to come to a new understanding.)

This year I have three school aged students: Jonathan will do year 7, David will do year 5, and Andrew will do year 3. Where did the time go that my little boy is in year 3? And lovely Miss Anna will turn 5 in November. She will be doing year 0, and we will work on learning to read.

Combining Students

I guess you could say phase one brainstorming. This is where I read the series in mentioned in the first paragraph, and the subsequent threads at the Ambleside Online forums. At first I would jot notes on any handy piece of paper. Then I got a bit smarter, and spend 19 cents (love back to school sales) on a spiral notebook, then disciplined myself to put all the homeschooling stuff in there.

First, I looked for obvious things to combine. Especially ones that benefited from discussion or required teacher involvement. The list was surprisingly long:

  • The Bible (20 minute sessions, alternating Old and New Testaments, four days per week)
  • Poetry (a new one every month, so that all the boys’ poets will be heard)
  • Plutarch & Shakespeare
  • singing (hymns, folksongs, sol-fa, Latin)
  • Spanish (oral work that is appropriate for all ages)
  • Nature study (also called nature lore or object lessons, using the Handbook of Nature Study)
  • Recitation (Poetry, Bible and Shakespeare, CM did 10 min per day)
  • Oral grammar, possibly oral word-building
  • Drawing, painting and handicrafts
  • Artist and composer study
  • Drill (and play time)
  • Sunday & evening reading (CM assumed these, and I hope to make better use of them – how lovely to have special things for Sunday)

For my eldest, I decided to delay How to Read a Book. Only a few chapters are scheduled for the whole year, and he’s not ready for it. Plus, I’m wondering if it would be beneficial to discuss this one as a small group. I’m still trying to decide on “Ourselves” and “Fallacy Detective”, although I did order the latter. Part of me thinks they would be nicer as a group, so I’m still contemplating.

Preliminary Scheduling

I also considered possible schedule ideas. CM schooled 6 days a week, starting at 9am and ending between 11:30 and 1pm, depending on age. I still haven’t decided if we will plan 5 or 6 days a week, or if we will spread out the “riches” over the week (which is what hasn’t worked before) or have a day just for riches (which is what Brandy at Afterthoughts is doing).

However, I still want to set limits on school time, I felt so run down last year. Many days we started late and then the day drug on and on and on and on. Or I felt like I needed to split myself in half to attend to all the children’s needs. So, to borrow a line from the above mentioned blog post, I’m going to cut back until I have peace. For me, that means I want to be done with teaching & bookwork by lunch. We’ll still have tea with poetry, and bed time reading, but I don’t want to be chasing people through their schoolwork.

Some ideas we will try include a snack mid-morning. We will use a timed schedule so that only one Mom is needed and so that Miss Anna is occupied. I want to find a few little sessions to devote to her year 0, one for a reading lesson and one for a daily story. I’m also going to try longer blocks, but fewer of them. So instead of 3 short blocks a day for my older boys’ foreign language (Latin, Spanish and Greek) I’ll do 2 longer blocks and rotate the languages. Grammar for 15 minutes a few times a week instead of 5 minutes daily (Cindy’s method at the Morning Time Moms blog). This should simplify things for my brain and we should have less time lost to transitions. I will be writing a follow up post a few months into the school year to let everyone know how the best laid plans turned out.

I’m also contemplating having the older boys start first with their independent work, then do our morning group time in the middle of the morning, as opposed to first thing.

However, before I do the schedule, I need to decide which books I am using, and (hopefully) strike a balance between AO’s booklist and PNEU’s time tables. Between what is offered and what is realistic. I always over plan. And while that’s okay with me, this year I need to stay simple and streamlined.

Stay tuned…

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