Although we have been homeschooling for over a decade, this is the first summer that I am taking time to just leisurely make plans for next school year. Typically I make plans each week of the school year as we go along. This was kind of an unexpected way to do things this year. I received a huge homeschooling catalog in the mail during the school year but laughed at the size of it and the fact that I would not be taking time to look through that monster, and simply tossed it in the back of our homeschool closet. When I received a new one a couple of weeks ago I thought, “Hey! I can sit down and actually look through this thing during the summer.”
That’s how it all started. I actually love the catalog, and am reading through descriptions a little each day and earmarking supplements for next year. That led to planning the topics for next year so that I will know which supplements will be useful for us. Before I knew it, I was working on full-fledged plans for next year!
I have a binder set aside just for the purpose of planning our next school year, and am really enjoying working on it a little here and there, when I have some down time. Here are the various ways I am getting ready for next year over this summer:
Choose & schedule topics of study for the year – I try to do homeschool with all three of my kids together, so we do a lot of unit studies. Armed with my favorite planning book, Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp, I made a list of science and social studies topics for us to cover this year. Then I took a calendar, marked off vacations, holidays, and other days that might be iffy for getting school work done, and plotted our topics in week-long or two-week increments, depending on topic. This is a loose schedule and I schedule extra days in each unit, knowing that things come up to slow us down.
Look for supplements – I am reading through the homeschool catalog and marking items we can use next year. I am also looking through children’s book review sites online, and strolling through bookstores and our library looking for ideas to go with our topics for next year. There are also homeschool review books and magazines where you can find ideas for different subjects and topics of study.
Have fun – I find that if I schedule in the extras, they are much more likely to actually happen. So in addition to seeking out field trip opportunities for our topics and putting them on the calendar, I am also scheduling some family fun outing ideas and special days with each of my kids.
Make my life easier – I am working with the kids over the summer, teaching them some skills that they can use to make our home run more smoothly next year. I am teaching them to cook basic meals and prepare basic snacks. I am showing the older two ideas of what and how to play with their little brother without getting bored or frustrated. Each week I teach them a new household skill, from dusting and mopping and watering plants to doing the laundry. Next year I plan to have lots more help around the house!
Get, and keep, the house in order – Over the summer I am going through closets, cabinets, toy boxes, etc. and getting rid of everything we don’t use or need, sorting through the kids’ clothes, and organizing. Again, by doing this over the summer, I can work on it when I have time and feel like it so it is actually fun rather than a drudgery. Inspired by Martha Stewart’s to-do household calendars, I started one of my own. I sat in each of the rooms of the house and made a list of everything that could ever need to be done in that room, and I did the same with the garage and outside. I will plot these things on the calendar as well so that by doing a few things each day, we will never get overwhelmed. This includes regular things like washing the windows, as well as less frequent things like changing the air filter or packing away the hose for the winter.
I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to take two whole months to get all of this planning done!
How do you make plans for your next homeschool year?
Tanya is a happy homeschooling mom to three children – a high schooler, a middle schooler, and one just starting out. You can find her blogging about various homeschooling topics as well as their own adventures at Homeschooling x3, and cooking up delicious recipes at Examiner.
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The Rainbow Resource Catalog! I love that one. I have last year’s copy, bristling with little post-it tabs.
This year, I am trying my best to be realistic. Last year, I had us on a 4 day-a-week schedule, but then I realized that it was too stressful for my son. This year, I have moved to a 5 day schedule, and am really thinking before I stick stuff on the schedule. I tend to over-book us and it’s a recipe for failure.
I totally agree with getting the house in order – it’s much easier to get in the swing of school of some of those things nagging me are done. I also have been doing a lot of cooking. I have a goal to stock my freezer with about 60 dinners, because after a day of school, I am DONE working and want to relax – not cook and clean for hours.
Hey Deb! I know what you mean about over-scheduling. Now that I have a high schooler and can see for myself how it all works out even if we don’t cover everything I wanted to in a school year, I tend to be much more flexible in my planning. While as a newbie, I was so concerned about making sure we covered everything during the year, I now know that [deep breath] it is okay if we don’t. It really does all pan out over the years. So I leave lots of room in our schedule for unexpected things to pop up!
Kudos for your ambition in the kitchen. 60 dinners, really? Wow! Are you going to put it up on your blog, because I would really love to see it! =)
Thanks Tanya! I have detailed quite a bit of my Freezer Cooking Adventure on my blog this month, and have also guest-written a series on getting started at Modern Alternative Mama. My posts on it have run every Monday in July, and link back to lots of recipes on my blog.
Here are some links:
Part One – http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2010/7/5/freezer-cooking-introduction.html
Part Two – http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2010/7/12/freezer-cooking-part-2.html
Part Three – http://www.modernalternativemama.com/blog/2010/7/19/freezer-cooking-part-3.html
and Part Four will be published on Monday the 26th.
I love helping moms get started with this lifestyle, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want to give it a try!
I want to say I love the fact that you have taken time to train your children in household tasks to get a little more help. That was my goal this summer and I haven’t stuck with it. You have motivated me to get me moving.
I make lesson plans for all of my children during the summer. Nothing would get accomplished during the school year if I didn’t. I use Homeschool Easy Records to lesson plan for at least the first 4 months of the school year during the summer. Because its digital, I can move things up or back really easily. This year I’m implementing something new, Workboxes, so I’ve spent the summer planning WorkBox schedules and ideas for centers.
Summer is my prime lesson planning time, during the year is go time!