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Thursday, August 23, 2012

It's that time of year again... for homeschool planning!

It's like this every year. New books, new notebooks, new kids... well, almost. At least they act like new kids with a gleam in their eyes when they know it's getting close to a new school year.

It's fun to change things up. It's fun to start afresh. At least, we think so! :)

But in order for the new school year to actually be, and more importantly, keep being fun for me (and not a steamroller called stress that smashes over me forwards and back daily for the next thirty-six weeks), I must have a plan. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort (even if strangely enough, I am married to the personified version of the aforesaid term, who pulls most everything off gorgeously in his own way).


It's one of my favorite things to do. And here I'm going to chat about how I went about it this year. Because if there's anything more fun than planning, it's thinking all about how you just planned and how you'll most likely plan again someday. ;)

a preview of our books... book organization post coming soon :)

This year, I'm heading into a new-to-me year with AmblesideOnline. We've used AO through all the years (even if I dabbled before that eccentrically, oh I mean eclectically). Thankfully, even after all these eight years, I can still say that I love AO! AmblesideOnline, as written by the ever faithful Advisory, has been the framework from which I have worked, learning to have confidence in myself and in following my heart by gradually applying more and more of Charlotte Mason's enduring principles in our homeschool.

Enough gush, right?

this is the big bedroom/school room/living room of our house... 
yep, all five kids share a room, but I'm pretty sure they still don't feel too cramped. :)

So, a new year. We'll be delving into years 3 and 8, as outlined by AO. I've taught year 3 before (five years ago!), but to two different students.  Year 8's all new. 

Where to begin?
I still hold on tightly to my Homeschool Planning Day tradition as outlined here and here, but I'm going to talk about a couple more things that I did this year, that were helpful to me and hopefully will be helpful to someone else as well.

Before I got started, I read my own posts here. Super helpful. Yep. I actually write this blog for my own use! Since I'm looking back, I might as well point out that I like this particular planning post a lot. It makes me smile. Can I just say, I love my life!?

Second, I make a list of all the things I want to think about for this term. Things to add, things to improve, or things that need thinking about. I keep adding to this master list throughout the whole process. Matter of fact, I'm two weeks into the schoolyear and I'm still adding/editing! Sometimes I start out with a paper list, but I usually have to convert to the computer for ease of the copy/paste feature.

My list looks something like this (but w/ cooler fonts and lots more in between):
2 print...
2 kindle...
2 buy...
bible & devo...
and on and on and on for pages...
Under each subject's heading, I quickly list what I know I need to do, and then I think of more things I need to do, even the smallest details...  I put them all there, crossing off as I finish them.

Sometimes I start at the AO booklist page for the year I'm planning.
So for example, if I haven't done so before now, I download all the ebooks for the year in question (y3 & y8). I will have already ordered and received all the books for this year, sometime back around the end of the previous year (or on our latest furlough, or before our most recent guests came down bearing suitcases, whichever comes first).

Or I may start with one of the subjects, whichever strikes my fancy. Let's take nature study for instance. I go to the AO page for Nature Study, skim it for links and to pick up whatever I may have missed. I open tons of tabs and I make more notes. I go down my list of to-do's for that subject and add some to come back to, if necessary, when I get home.

Next, I pick whatever sounds most interesting. If that were Shakespeare, I'd open and keep up the AO Shakespeare page, which shows the rotation of which play/term and might have other helpful links. On my list, under Shakespeare it says: Cymbeline. Look up bbc videos on amazon streaming or use librivox audio, print scripts. While I'm looking these up, I'm reading online reviews on Cymbeline and figuring out whether or not we'll go ahead with the videos and deciding if my plan of reading the parts aloud with all the kids is appropriate. I think about Shakespeare. I download Shakespeare's Complete Works. I download Act I from And then I'm done. for now.

So I go on to Plutarch or Nature Study or Music or whatever else, until I get everything thought about and downloaded. Or until my time runs out. :)

The newest helpful thing that I've done this year is basically a major expansion of the list I've been talking about. Every time I opened an AO page with info on term selections, I went ahead and copy/pasted that info into my master list. Under Shakespeare I now see this:
use audio from  *downloaded
**King Lear
***Measure for Measure
Poetry looks currently looks like this:
*William Blake *downloaded
**Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling *downloaded
***Henry Wadsworth Longfellow *downloaded
*12 Shakespeare sonnets *downloaded
Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves *purchased from amazon - priority mail...  (why do I always want to type fierce loves and faithful wars?!)
**John Donne *downloaded
***John Milton *downloaded
Under music I have the following with their lyrics all copy/pasted in (I've printed a couple copies of those pages to hand out as songbooks!):
read wiki for bkgd info on folksongs & hymns
singing (harmonies and rounds)...
folksongs for 2012-13...
folksongs for y8...
Now I know what I have yet to do to be ready this term, I know what's coming up next term, AND I can use this same document as a starting place for my next Homeschool Planning Dayt! I love planning ahead! ;)

There you have it. Aren't lists fun?!

This year with all my planning, I worked for one whole day, my official Homeschool Planning Day, at a local restaurant with free wifi. I then spent most of another whole day at home (organizing books, printing and loading up the kindle, etc) and then several hours the next couple of days until Sunday that week, tying up loose ends. Monday I felt pretty ready. And we were. Everything went great!

i love our school table.

We're two weeks into the year now, and though I'm still having to pull a couple little things together, it's been SO. much. fun. Even though the planning was grueling, and I was pretty tired, I'm ever so glad I did it all in advance. Having everything set and ready to go helps me to be able to relax and really spread the banquet each day instead of scrambling every morning (or all day long) to keep up. :)

So. I hope this helps! I know it has already been huge for me AND will come in real handy next Homeschool Planning Day! :)


Bobby Jo said...

This is so great & very helpful Amy. Your enthusiasm radiates all the way to MN. I'm  listlover too! Great photos.
Bobby Jo

Rosemary said...

Amy I love your planning posts and your sense of humour too lol!
Haven't visited in awhile but I so appreciate your blog :)

MissionalMama said...

I enjoyed reading yours and seeing your room.  I did the same thing with copying what we will be doing in each section for the year and then transfered it to my weekly list.  I did not; however, keep a list of what I downloaded and had.  I like that you keep a  of needs too.  Will be checking some of the links you mentioned in your post later.  Have a great day!
Amy @ Missional Mama

Patty said...

thank you, thank you, thank you, Amy! We are switching  from boxed curriculum to cm and I'm scared to death! besides the fact that I was planning on planning :) this summer and then had paperwork problems and had to travel back to the States quite unexpectedly :( and all my planning stuff wad in Ghana :( nuff said!
excellent tips!
glad to hear that your first weeks went well!

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