Monday, July 18, 2011

Planning for Next Year - Step 3

              Hopefully by now, you have started making your plans for next year.  I have found that if I don’t make my general, monthly plans over the summer, I don’t get it done.   After I make my plans for each subject per month (using only general topics – I’ll do the specifics when each month gets closer), I take that information and put it in a schedule per month.  I list each subject with the topic for August, as an example.  This gets rather intimidating, actually.  I look at my monthly lists and think, “Am I ever going to be able to teach all this?”  Is it better to just “wing it” and see what happens?

 “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.  I say:  My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”  ~ Isaiah 47:2

If God makes His plans from the beginning, shouldn't I do the same thing?  According to this verse, I’m doing the right thing to make my plans for the entire year, planning for the end at the beginning.  Another benefit is that I get to see how certain subjects progress throughout the year, instead of just heading wherever my daughter or I feel at the moment to go.  I can see where I’m headed with our instruction and make plans to get there.  I can decide to begin with learning basic routines that I want to introduce in the first month, and then start building from there through the year to more difficult topics. 

By keeping my monthly plans general, I have a lot of flexibility.  For example, if I know Babygirl’s math this month will be addition and subtraction, and if we also are planning a Social Studies field trip a certain day to a local lake to look at landforms and bodies of water, I can plan addition and subtraction with rocks and other items which we find on our field trip.  If we go to the store and I find that Babygirl needs practice in counting money, instead of doing a worksheet, we can practice adding and subtracting with coins from our change cup.  As long as I know what our focus is for the month, I can plan on using it with whatever we are doing.

However, looking at my monthly goals, I’m back to my big question:  Is it possible to teach everything in one month?  Well, first of all, that depends on what you have planned.  This year, I have twelve subjects which I have made plans for:  math, reading, science, social studies, writing (which includes handwriting objectives as well as writing sentences and paragraphs – I keep those separate), p.e., music, art, foreign language, technology, and health/safety.  I have one main focus for each topic per month (and some topics carry over to more than one month if it’s a basic concept that I want to make sure she understands).  I plan on teaching reading and math every day (a good habit from my teaching public school days), and hopefully writing every day, but the other subjects will not be every day, possibly even once per week.  Everything does not need a half-hour or hour-long lesson.  Many of the subjects can be combined, like my example above with Math and Social Studies.

Some people think that I’m missing out on the whole Unschooling experience if I make plans for the year, and I suppose in some ways that’s true.  I miss waking up in the morning thinking, “Are we really doing school right?  Is my daughter really learning what she needs to learn?  Would she be better off in public school?”  Making my plans removes a lot of uncertainty which a lot of unschooling families (and families who use curriculum without an overall plan) experience.  It does take some time, especially if it’s your first attempt, but it is truly worth the effort.

 “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”  ~ Psalms 20:4

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