My new family/life/homeschooling planning process has helped me prepare and reacquaint myself with my family. I thought I would share it over the next few days here on the blog. First I wanted to explain how I had approached planning prior to this year and how it just didn’t work for me…
Planning began in late August for me. In years past, school planning began in May even before the current school year was over. I was already thinking ahead, jotting notes down, assembling information, and reading all the material. My planning would continue into the summer months and I would put together my year with the kids piece-by-piece. I focused on what our rhythm would like in the fall and plan daily lesson plans until January, firm in the belief that in January, I would assess how things were going and write dailies for the next half of the year.
The result? I would get so far behind in my dailies, since they were filled with a load of activities, and have to constantly adjust. Things that I thought would work well with the kids but ended up bombing and failing miserably would leave me in a bind. My daily plans did not take into consideration their changing abilities, aptitudes, and developmental phases. And January planning? In the midst of the winter doldrums? Come on. What usually ended up happening was a combination of winging it and last minute visits with my good friend Google for ideas. Some days would work but some would feel so disjointed and chaotic.
An unedited and very typical school day in the dead of winter…
Where IS everyone?? Oh here they are…
The problem with planning this way:
– I didn’t take into account my own seasonal rhythms and our family’s seasonal rhythms – we are superstars in Fall and early winter. Come Mid-January to the first thaw, we completely lose our mojo and sink deep into our hibernation mode and slow down completely. (We don’t even say the F-word month in this house.) The cold grips me and it’s all I can do to muster enough energy to take them outside to enjoy winter activities. And by this point, the last thing I want to do is sit and write dailies for the next 5 months.
– Daily plans look good on paper but in reality are difficult to execute consistently because of, well, life. Life happens. Illness happens. An unusually hot summer day happens in late October. A really great travel opportunity presents itself. Dailies don’t let you adjust to these type of situations. All of sudden, you are behind a week and are trying to cram two lessons into one just to check off everything on the list.
– When planning starts in May, I don’t get a break. Let’s face it, I have 5 children, there is no break for me physically or even mentally. But I can and really should take a break from teacher mode. I need to have the summer too. I need to stop thinking about what comes next and enjoy my children where they are at in the summer. It’s easy to get lost in the accumulation of resources and bury myself in curriculum all summer. But I miss out on the right now and my mind never stops planning the next steps.
– It’s difficult to deviate from curriculum this way. It’s harder to step back and see what’s not working and tweak it. The plans become so rigid that there is no wiggle room and it’s easy to slip behind and feel guilty for skipping things because you just have to get to the next block of lessons, according to the schedule. It feels like a race and there is no time to follow interesting trails off the main path.
I didn’t plan things beyond school. There was no plan to accommodate my own yearly and seasonal rhythm. I didn’t take into account any personal goals I wanted to accomplish in my daily schedule. Teaching was the focus and there was little time for anything else. I would squeeze in morning workouts and try to write a blog post when I could.
By the end of this school year, I felt all over the place and felt that we rushed through the last lesson blocks just to get to summer. I couldn’t understand how we would always start off on the right foot and then struggle for the last half of the year completing our tasks and following through on our plans.
What was I doing wrong? Something needed to change. And it wasn’t us.
It was the plans themselves.
Tomorrow I will post my brand new planning process and how through its creation and implementation, has helped me understand the very heart and soul of my family.