Every Sunday I go to a new coffee shop nearby and plan. I plan our menus for the week, I write out the grocery list, I plan cleaning and activities for the week, and lately, I do a lot of planning for our upcoming year of learning at home. Our first year of kindergarten! We’ve done two years of on-and-off preschool, and while kindergarten will look very similar to what we’ve done previously, this year I think we are ready for just a little more. And “a little more” simply doesn’t happen unless I plan and prepare for it. I was just telling my husband last night that one of the great perks of homeschooling from the very beginning is that I can start with a very little and just add a very little bit more each year. I think it would be much more overwhelming to all of a sudden start out with, say, the fifth grade. We just take what we’ve done before and add one or two more things at a time.
I missed my weekly planning session yesterday, and when thinking about how to catch up, I realized it is now August. And at the end of August comes September 1st, the first day of the new Church year and our first day of kindergarten and preschool. I really have to get moving finalizing plans, acquiring a few more things for our learning room, and buying supplies! And when planning for our first day, I found it very helpful to revisit this post by veteran homeschooler (and someone I consider a mentor) Elizabeth Foss.
Doing two years of preschool has really helped me in planning for kindergarten, because I am very familiar with the natural flow of our family’s days and where pockets of intentional learning fit most easily. In planning this year, I tried to look very carefully at that natural rhythm and made up a daily schedule for our days, one in which there are times for learning, lots of time for reading aloud, time for normal homekeeping, and plenty of margin. The beauty of home education is that I don’t have to cram all of my “learning plans” into one block of time from 9 am to noon, nor do I think that would be the best plan for my little one’s attention spans.
I’ve been working on writing out our projected daily rhythm, a process I started with this post a few weeks ago. I’ve attached a PDF of what I’ve come up with below. I’m sure it looks ridiculous to some to see life written out in blocks like this. I assure you, I am not overly attached to this schedule, and there is a lot more margin in there than it looks like, as I’ve allowed far more time in each block than I expect to fill up. The kids will need plenty of “expansion” time in between planned activities, and I’m open to adjusting for more of that if they need it. And I worked very hard to make it match our natural family rhythm, so most of it is descriptive rather than prescriptive, meaning I just wrote down what we do normally and added general times to it. I also planned it so that if one part of the day falls to pieces, the rest can still march. For instance, if I do not get up early and have time to myself, that is my loss, but morning time can still happen as planned. If we don’t get through our chores, I’ve got more to do during quiet time, but our read-aloud time can still happen. It also doesn’t reflect the days where we are not at home all day, such as Fridays where a big chunk of the morning is spend in the forest, or the many field trips I have planned for the year. It helps me to have this written out in great detail, because otherwise I make grand plans just to find there is actually no place in the daily puzzle to fit all the pieces.
Daily Rhythm (click to open PDF).
I am also working on writing out the actual learning plans for our fall term (I find it works best to plan out one season at a time and no further, since these children change too fast and too unpredictably to plan further ahead than that). Once they are a bit more filled in, I will post that as well.
I still revisit this post on our basic priorities for home learning with little ones before I do too much planning and get ahead of myself. I think sometime this week I will also gather up some links to posts or talks that I revisit again and again when considering what learning at home will look like over the long haul. I’m expect that inspecting slugs and snails on our nature trail will always be a part of it :)