There are many ways to plan a Home Ed year. This is mine. Part 1 – How I plan.

Last week we started our fifth year of home educating.

It’s the first year that all three children are officially school aged, although the youngest chose to start doing some table work, like her brother and sister, a few months ago and has been part of our group lessons since she was tiny. I guess that’s just how it is for the littlies in home ed families.

We tend to run the same sort of term dates as the schools in this area, so we started our table work on Wednesday and did the basics for the second half of the week. We also went to buy shoes on Wednesday once our work was done, which was pretty good timing I think, given the change in the weather over the last few days.

How I Plan

For the last three years I have used Pam Barnhill‘s Plan Your Year set up as the back bone of my summer planning. I like the step by step instructions, and how it starts with your big picture, and gets you to focus further and further into the details as you go along. Of course the trick is not to get TOO detailed, which in essence is what I want to write about here.

I usually start planning in June and early July before we finish for the summer. I look at what is working, what fell by the wayside, what I wanted to do but didn’t get time to, etc, and think about how I want things to go next year. I use the printables included in Plan Your Year to assess what is going on with each child, what each child is going to be using next year, and what I need to research. These all go in my A4 planning folder.

I come back to this planning part of the way through the summer holidays and work out what I want to work on for each child, what we are going to work on all together, and put together how the weekly schedule is going to look.

How I Organise My Day to Day Planning

I don’t write down a day by day account of what lessons we are going to do and when. We would get off track very quickly.

Instead I write down what the subject is in a weekly ticky-box plan, and then have separate lists for each child for what they are going to being doing for each of those subjects. These I put together as a small document folder for each child, (plus a family one for work we do all together), by photocopying the contents from our maths books, printing out the list of units for our phonics and grammar programmes, and printing the spelling work lists from our spelling curriculum.

I also headline up some sheets of lined paper with things like ‘Videos we watched’, ‘Documentaries’, ‘Science Units’ etc, so that I can record what we do as we go along. At the end of the year I can put all these document folders together into one for the year, or add each child’s folder to their portfolio, along with sample of their work. (I don’t need to do this, but I do it anyway in case we ever need it. Usually I pull some work from the front and back of their work folders once they are full to bursting, and recycle the rest. *cough* I also make little flick through videos with my phone, which I keep for personal use, to show how much was in there before I recycled. Belt and braces? Yup.)

I have started to record all our fiction and non-fiction readalouds in Goodreads as a specific HE bookshelf for the academic year and plan to print out the list at the end of the year to add to the folders.

Weekly Folders and Do the next thing…

As I said before, I don’t write a list of every exact lesson we are going to do each day. Instead I set things up so that we can do ‘the next thing.’

With maths we just turn to the next lesson, and when we have completed it I tick it and date it in the folder. (Again I don’t need to do this, but it helps to show me the progress we are making. It is a ‘we are here!’ mark, if you will.)

With the phonics or grammar, I print out the latest unit or two, and keep them in a separate folder and then build a folder of work for each child for the coming week, at the weekend. It probably takes me half an hour to file the stuff from the previous week and pull out stuff for the coming week (and I have just realised that I am rusty at doing this, since I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon and I haven’t even thought about doing this for the next week! Oops.)

I use a six pocket folder for each child – one pocket for each day of the week, so that I can piece out the work, plus one at the front to catch all the work that has been done and needs to be put away. I have been doing this for three year and it works really well for us, though I am on the lookout for folders that lie a bit flatter and than you can flick through rather than concertina out, just for ease of use.

I made myself a master sheet for each week, which I can change on the computer and print out as needed. This lives on a clipboard and I mark it up every day with what we did and didn’t do. (Guess what? I don’t need to do this. It’s just another of the ways I track what we are doing so that I feel good about what we are achieving. I’m all about the visibility.)

(I made it editable, and obviously our home copy has the children

This take a lot of the decisions out of our day to day home education. I can choose that we don’t do something I guess, or that we spend more time one something and skip something else to make room, but I’m never getting up and trying to work out what the children are going to learn, (as various extended family members have assumed of me.)

Tomorrow I’ll post part 2, (I know!) about what we are using this year, and why.

I am really enjoying a new homeschool podcast called Homeschooling in the North Woods, which had an episode on loop scheduling for homeschool planning.

 

 

British Living Books – Arabella Buckley

Although I consider our family to be eclectic home educators, there are plenty of things that we do that could be considered to be a bit Charlotte Mason-y.  For example I am a big fan of short lessons, and our table work is made up of a series of them, covering key skill areas including maths, spelling, reading practice, grammar, sight words etc.  We also do a lot of learning through stories and living books, and though I don’t think I could get through the amount of readalouds that some CM families do (covering 3 or 4 subjects every day for example), I have been adding daytime readalouds alongside the reading we do at bedtime.

The difficulty is that a lot of the Charlotte Mason book lists are US centric, not only in history, but also in their choices of nature study authors. So I have been researching which of the vintage authors are/were British to make sure that we are learning about things that are directly relevant to our day to day lives.

Birds of the Air book by Arabella Buckley - British-Based living book authors for Charlotte Mason homeschooler/home

Birds of the Air book by Arabella Buckley – British-Based living book authors for Charlotte Mason homeschooler/home

Arabella Buckley is a fantastic example of an author of living books that Britain-based home educators can use. She was a naturalist and scientist who wrote extensively for children, in a chatty, clear way. We are currently reading ‘Birds of the Air’ originally published in 1901, and it is as relevant now as it has ever been.

And her books are easy to get hold of at low cost, assuming you are willing to use digital copies.  Two of her books (The Fairy Land of Science, and Through Magic Glasses and other Lectures) are available via gutenberg.org in various digital formats at no cost. Others are available at Yesterday’s Classics and amazon.co.uk for less than £3/$3 per book.

We are planning to read a number of her books this year and next, so I’ll let you know what I think of them as we get more familiar with her work.

 

 

A Day in the life – Katie’s day with a 7, 5 and nearly 3 year old

(Linking up to the Simplehomeschool day in a life series today…)

6am

My alarm goes off. A combination of engrossing book and both girls (5 and about to be 3) crawling into bed with me at different points of the night means that I am still tired. This will mean an early night tonight. For the last week I have osculated between reading a bit too much and then having to go to bed pretty much once the children have fallen asleep. Luckily hb is in a similar position so we’re not annoying each other in that regard.

6.35am

I finally get up from between dozing daughters. No one complains. This is a good day (apart from the tiredness.) I say hi to my son (fellow early bird who is 7) then go pull on workout clothes and leave the house for my morning walk. Usually I listen to podcasts, but today I am in the mood for some Andrew Bird and the audiobook of the same book that kept me up last night. (Damn you engrossing book.)

By the time get back everyone is awake and I need to start breakfast. My son is looking at lego instructions on the main computer, hb in getting dressed and the girls come downstairs to see what is going on. This morning the breakfast is potato waffles and scrambled egg. Nom.

8.15am

I go grab a shower and the children get dressed. The usual scramble ensues. eventually everyone is dressed approximately for the correct weather, and hb leaves for work. Just before he leaves I give him some of my birthday chocolates that my friend gave me yesterday, mostly so I don’t eat them all, but also to be nice. (but mostly so I don’t eat them all.)

9.30am

I am writing this. I am about to put on a Shaun the sheep so that I can brush my youngest’s hair. the 5 year old is making everyone cards and decorating the envelopes with drawing (note to self. add envelopes to my errands list for tomorrow.)

10am

The hair brushing didn’t take half an hour, it just felt like it did. After this, I decide to break my own rule about getting table work done before we watch a documentary, and set the children up to watch the last episode of Victorian Bakery. I go make peanut butter cookies, because I’ve been making them all week, and they have been going down really well with everyone. (I made vegan ones yesterday because we had vegan friends over – leave out the egg, add a mushed up banana instead, and about half a cup of flour or so, and they come out basically the same as if you had used an egg. Nom.)

11am

The documentary is over, the cookies are baked, the washing up is done and I have caffeine inside me (though not enough.) Really we should be doing today’s table work, and we will, but the children are playing and I sneak a few rows on the sock I’m knitting. Eventually we start our maths, which is about numbers to 100. My 7yr old finishes quickly but my 5yr old is too busy trying to make me laugh. but she does make me laugh and eventually we are done. (My nearly 3yr old plays with the small animal counters we have, and gets on and off my knee.) Everyone goes off to play for a bit and I write this, and think about getting Ready2Read done before we have lunch.

1pm

Ready2Read is complete and we need to get lunch sorted. It was a bit all over the place. Not the doing of the work, which was fine, but now I have a pile of work to be sorted into things to be filed, and things to be put away into the unit folders ready for the next person. (The 7yr old has just started level 3 and is really enjoying the new things to do. The 5yr old is getting the hang of level 2. Neither of them want to read early readers but are getting good at reading individual words. So progress.) More play once Ready2Read is done. I disappear off and hide in the loo and look at social media for a few minutes. I am joined by my youngest who has brought a book.

The postman arrives. It is the nearly 3yr old’s birthday tomorrow. there are cards, but she must wait till tomorrow. screaming ensues. The cuddly Rey doll has not arrived, but it is from her uncle and aunt so if it arrives early next week it will just make the celebrations last longer. I look at the state of the house. All the peanut cookies have  been eaten. We need to eat and tidy the house and then leave the house in about an hour. Urgh.

Time to make lunch (“lunch is boring!” – the nearly 3yr old. I know.)

2pm

We are supposed to be getting ready for our friday meetup. This is a regular thing with about 5 or 6 other local families, where we meet at each other’s houses and do a bit of craft and play. Usually this works really well. but recently some of the children (including my eldest) have had a hard time getting on. Some weeks everyone gets on really well. Other weeks they are like cats in a bag and need a lot of help finding some sort of middle ground. After meeting up with two sets of friends the day before, my lot decide they are really not up for the meet up today, so at the 11th hour I have to text round our apologies, and instead I spend a big chunk of the afternoon properly tidying and cleaning our front room, ready for family coming over at the weekend. The children dance around, play in the garden, listen to audiobooks and build stuff out of lego, and generally get busy doing their own thing, which makes me feel a bit better about bailing on our meetup (which we usually don’t do.)

5pm

5 o’clock programmes time, which they watch on the Iplayer while I make dinner. They take turns each day with who gets first choice, then everyone gets a choice after that. I make dinner and listen to some more of my audiobook. Daddy get’s home at 6pm, we have dinner, and then everyone goes upstairs at about 7pm to get ready for bed and have stories. Daddy is reading stories tonight, and then he puts the youngest to bed. I cuddle the other two, and read a chapter of Betsy-Tacy and then they go to sleep. Once the children are asleep I curl up in bed W and listen to The News Quiz. I’m asleep by about 9.30pm.

So there you go. Not the best day, but also not the worst.

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