This is my first year being a bit more formal and organized. I’ve started with a bare bones outline for my 5 year old, and will add as we go. In looking at what I did when I first started, I can see elements of the school system still with me. I thought I was doing so much better, but I again caught myself this past year falling back onto the conveyor belt. I had created these cute passports for our book club. They’re exactly what I would’ve done in the classroom. Kids would use the stamp at each station, and they’d have a little record of all the “places” we’ve gone. But, in a homeschooling setting, I didn’t care if they did it. My daughter never wanted to do it. It started to be a real burden when it came to planning events — I had to have enough activities to cover stamps (Switzerland had a lot of activities!). I was getting tied to these things that in a classroom would be perfect! I’d be able to see that my 30 students had completed my stations. with just a glance. But, in a homeschool/natural learning setting, they were pointless. The kids did the activities because they were interested. They didn’t do them if they weren’t (even though they’d still get a stamp, because, it didn’t matter if they did the activity or just wanted a stamp!) So, I’m going to switch it up this coming year and ditch those. The parents might be sad (isn’t always us who like these type things more than the kids?!).
I’m constantly learning and growing on this journey. It’s amazing!
My Goals for the Kids
- Provide an opportunity every day to be with people/kids. (Stay social for her — I’m an introvert, so I created a book club, joined some homeschool park days and a picture book club and will be leading the Girl Scouts Daisy group. I’ve decided that if I have to socialize, I want to control it so I stay on my own schedule. 😉 )
- Outside every day — at least 3 hours (So important! I read this book many years ago, and it resonates even more now that I have kids.)
- No more than 2 hours total of screen time each day — no more than one hour of that is a show.
- Have at least one planned activity every day (for either)
- Make sure she has plenty of free play
- Continue using nap time for “mom time” with her
- 5 year old – set two goals each week based on core growth [Update: that was way too much! We are four months in and we’ve changed it to one goal a month. And, I do one too or share the one with her.] Monthly meeting for sure, try for weekly meetings.
- Working on cleaning with less attitude and reluctance — family work, training them to learn how to clean — helping clean once a day and helping with some meal prep
- Work on making sure I don’t control too much of her learning. As a classroom teacher, I’m in complete control of what everyone is doing, and it’s all geared toward a learning objective. And it has to be. There are 35 kids in that room and anything less than that would lead to chaos. But, with natural learning, learning is happening all the time. The learning that occurs is not based on some timetable or idea I have, it’s what she’s doing in her brain. I need to keep that in mind and make sure I’m not leading her in a direction she doesn’t want to or need to go. I’m constantly surprised by what she knows, so I know it works. I just need to make sure I get better and better at just providing opportunities for her to continue to surprise me.
- The first naturally leads to the second, make sure I have things that inspire learning strewn about, offering plenty of opportunities to explore.
- You Not Them: Continue reading kid’s classics and doing the adult classics book club. Focus more on my core book. Maintain my love and skill in planning activities for kids, which is more of the “you, not them” stuff. (The picture to the side is a perfect example of how this works. I was copying some of my core book, and they both decided they needed to do the same!)
- Try to instill a love of work in myself (and her.)
- Stay on top of dates or events that are happening during the year and do some themes to help her learn more about them before or while they’re happening
- Finesse my record keeping, so I get used to state requirements
- Stay strong against over scheduling (PS: I’d say most activities I plan, unless she starts running with them, last no more than 15-30 minutes each day…and usually those are not consecutive.)
- Stay ahead by at least a day for any planned activities — keep up on the plan
- Keep up on the goals (hers and mine) and mentor meetings
- Be aware when things aren’t working and ditch the plan
We had our first mentor meeting before September!
We went to Target, and she picked out a binder and a pencil case to put in it (Thank you, Target for not having crazy binders to choose from! They were all super nice!). We got new colored pens and thin markers for her pencil case that will be only for planned activities. Then we went to lunch. We discussed some things in the car and finished everything at the restaurant.
I went over how our core book is the basis of our learning. We talked about core phase and what she’ll be learning during that time (I added a tenth: healthy eating habits.) Then she came up with two goals for the week related to core phase ideas. I found this cute printout to use. I ended up using the smaller goal sheets, but I think next time, I’ll use one with more room for her to draw a picture. (I’m not interested in academic goals at this point, so I didn’t print out the very cute pictures she made for the goals.) She came up with watching less shows, and I brainstormed ideas with her for the second. She kept saying things she already does. 🙂 So, she chose writing a letter to a friend every day. And, I came up with three goals for myself, one of which she has to help me with. It was a really great experience.
Hopefully, I’ll stay organized enough to do goals each week and have mentor meetings at the beginning of each month.
How I Plan
- Come up with one main theme to point out throughout the year
- I plan for the year in July. I don’t know if it’s a habit from my teaching days, but I found some old unused teacher planning books and decided to use them. Of course, I’m not using them as they are designed, since I don’t have six classes a day I need to plan for. But, I find them great to use as a calendar.
- I put in all the dates for the year and add things I know that we do (park days, holy days, holidays, etc.). Along the margins I’ve included: chapter books we’ll be reading, field trips, magazine subscriptions, audio books.
- Here’s what it looks like after the fact! I crossed off things I’d put in that we didn’t do. But, as you can see, this may look like a lot, but it really isn’t. There are empty days often. Although, I have been trying to add anything we did that could be deemed “school,” so I can get used to that for paperwork purposes.
- Finesse the plan in August. Add specific books, check on important dates or events locally and nationally.
- Towards the end of each month, as we finish up things, I discuss with her what she’d like to learn about next month.
- At the beginning of the month, I check out dates and events that are coming up that month.