Prep.

One of the homeschooling bloggers I came across recently talked about her tradition of setting aside a weekend to do her curriculum planning for the upcoming year.  Well, doesn’t THAT sound nice…

On my end, it does not seem likely that I will be able to afford a big chunk of time like a full weekend–or a whole day, or even an uninterrupted half-day–to devote myself to planning.  I get short spurts of two hours here, an hour-and-a-half there.  Sometimes just 20 minutes to jot down notes.

Some days this makes me feel panicky; other times it is just plain frustrating.  And then I try to remember that as rushed as I often feel, the truth is, the work is still getting done.  I pray a lot about this, and mostly my prayer is, “Please help me plan” to avoid the temptation to dictate the manner in which the planning happens.  (I feel that I have learned a lot about this over the last couple of years, not related to homeschooling but to daily plan-making).

Yesterday I had a short window of time to rush to the library to cross-check my booklist with their catalog and see where we matched up.  There was no summer camp at that time of day so I was allowed in the Children’s section.  But whaddaya know, the computers to access the catalog were down, and the internet connection, too, so I was just out of luck, once again (since all my notes are on Office online).  Things like this just seem to keep happening…

So I have no choice but to try to roll with all of the disorder, and to notice the ways in which planning IS still happening.  I want to choose to be grateful for those moments and not to worry so much about “Whether It Will All Get Done In Time.”  (It won’t.)  The way I figure it, once the school year kicks off, our learning won’t happen in the ways that I expect, or that I want it to happen, and so I might as well learn to appreciate and cherish the ways that it does happen.  And I figure that I need to start doing that now, sooner rather than later in the process.

In case you are wondering, the irony that I am trying to find ways to otherwise occupy the kids so I can escape and in order to plan ways to spend more time with them soon (“soon, but now right now!”) has not escaped me.

DSC09944            DSC09943

Luckily for me, my kids love to read.  I mean, they love it.  Usually I can haul them with me over to the library and they will read to themselves and I go browse the shelves, jotting down notes and making lists of the books we will want to come back to later for homeschooling.  I create stacks on the table next to me of the ones I need to skim through before making a final decision, and more often than not, once they finish up with whatever they are reading, they peek over and then reach for my pile.

I worry sometimes about whether the curriculum I am planning will be interesting to them.  And then yesterday I found my eldest reading one of the Eyewitness Science books that I intend to use as a “textbook” about the ocean.

I wonder whether I am choosing readings appropriate to their current comprehension abilities and then I immediately worry, “How will I have time to assess any of that? And how would I go about doing that, anyway?” and just then my son spontaneously decided to read to me from different books “until they get too hard for me, Mom.”

On a different day, he started pulling books off of shelves to build up a stack that would relate to our topic (he was just guessing about the topic since I am still keeping it a surprise): “I am gathering ‘Expedition’ books, Mommy.”   And then I remember: Of course!  I don’t have to pre-research everything.  That’s one of the principles of Expeditionary Learning: that students take charge of their own learning.*

I wonder: could it really be like this all year long?  Could it be this organic?

Am I just naïve enough to hope for that?

 

(*More about the Expeditionary model and my version of it in upcoming posts.)
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5 thoughts on “Prep.

  1. Pingback: Setting up to fail | Saipan Homeschool

  2. But HOW, Catherine? How do you do it? Is N. watching the kids? Are you staying up late into the night? I feel that there is hardly a moment in the day when the kids do not want me with them…to read, to make food, to drive them somewhere. And J. has more work hours here, and more night shifts, which means more time catching up on rest during the “off” hours. It is really challenging.
    This week I planned ahead and hired a sitter for a full morning and it was wonderful. But instead of catching up on planning, I mostly sat at the beach and did some personal reading and had some me-time. And got a haircut. 🙂

  3. Okay, it is very challenging. I do make it a priority, but it always takes longer than what I have planned.

    I don’t stay up late into the night. Too old for that now! But I do spend a lot of time in the late afternoon and evenings of the spring semester reading curriculum catalogs and making booklists. N. and I do a lot of the planning together too in the evenings. I want to know in general what we’re doing next year by the end of the school year.

    Once the summer begins, the kids are pretty much on their own to play at least a couple days a week because Mommy is working. It takes me a lot of time to go through last year’s work, file or recycle it, make a record of the year, sift through materials I won’t reuse and sell them online or at our homeschool store so I have $$ for next year’s stuff.

    This summer I scheduled three days in July when N. would be with the kids all day. One of those days I had to keep Teddy with me, so he just played next to me on the floor. And the second day turned into a half day because the washing machine broke. And the third day I had a migraine and got nothing done. So it’s always a matter of working around the chaos. My goal is to have last year recorded, the next year planned in more detail on paper, and the homeschool room cleared out of all junk by the end of July (I did it!).

    In August, I will order next year’s books, set up our account on Skedtrack, and try to start reading ahead in the books William will read on his own (which is so hard for me because he has so much more time to read in a day than I do!).

    I definitely don’t work on homeschooling every day of the summer, but I do make sure we stay home at least a couple days a week in the summer so I can. I don’t know how free your kids are to roam where you’re living now, but maybe you can plan poolside. 🙂

    I’m sure many moms don’t spend the time I do planning and clearing out junk. But I have an old house with little storage space, and I don’t want a boxed curriculum or a distance-learning program, which would eliminate the need for some of the planning.

    I hope this helps!

  4. Yes, that is exactly what I was after, Catherine! Thank you so much. I am going to try to use some of J’s days off to do this. The clock is ticking but I know that the more I have ready now, the calmer I will be when it comes time to dive in.
    Thanks again!

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