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Friday, August 27, 2010


In one of my online home school support group we were recently asked, how do you plan your home school year?

(Answer one or all)
So, how do you plan your HS?
DO you plan for one child at a time or all?
Do you take an afternoon, day or week to do it?
Do you do it all at the beginning or as you go?
Oh, and how old are your children and how many
are you HSing?

This was my answer:

How do I plan?  Well the only thing that has been planned out these past 5 years has been math.  I pick a program, and it is the subject that is done daily (it is the only curriculum I use).  The rest of the time it is making a plan on the go, flying by the seat of our pants.  :o)  BUT I have to say that one of the reasons I do it this way is because of our lifestyle.  I do not a live a life of predictability (example:  Dad working 9-5, signed up for classes/groups, etc).  We live on ranch and the kids have to help out here and there.  The weather affects things, animals get out or need extra attention, etc.  My husband works a great variety of hours.  My spiritual gift is serving/helping others, so I am always helping out someone.  So the key ingredient in our home school is flexibility and going with the flow.  I long to have a plan to follow, a predictable day routine.  And every year I try to make a plan, a schedule, a routine but then life happens and it has to be pushed aside and then I get frustrated and resentful.  So this year, at this very moment I have no plan, no math curriculum chosen, no date on when we will start academics.  I have a vision... I want to mostly focus on writing skills this year, I want to read lots with my kids and have discussions, I want to find a way to prepare them for THEIR life in the last few years I have with them.  
And a friend responded:

Pam, I like your answer very much.   I think this is an excellent way to home school.   This method is alive and well, vibrant, relevant, and teaches much more than just subject matter, but it teaches life skills, time management, awareness of needs around us.  I like how it teaches that all of life's activities are a learning ground.   I really do believe your method is superior and builds a much better well balanced child,, than where the education plan is rigimented and arbitrary and somewhat artificial (sitting in a seat studying books/view pictures of how things are done.)   How much better to be learning while doing.   

And we don't do grades either nor do we have a predictable daily plan.   We also do the vision method!   I love it.    We  keep in mind the end goal and aim for that.

  Thank you G!  I needed these words, this encouragement today. 

This same friend shared this method that she does with her own family:  (I love it, and plan to sit down with my kids and do the same)

But one of the most important things I do is "interview" the child - separately.    This is so revealing.  
I ask:
What things interest you and what would you like to learn more about?   (the answer need not be the name of an academic subject.   I encourage them to talk about anything that interests them.   It might be chain mail,   it might be get a learner's license, it might be cooking, it might be make a quilt, it might be wanting a penpal.    They might say I want to learn about castles, or I want to make a display box for my butterflies.    My kids were seldom answer:  I would like to learn algebra!   )

What areas do you think you are doing well in.
    What areas of learning do you feel you know fairly well.        (to this they may answer I'm doing really well in reading, or I'm doing really well in my music lessons.)

What areas do you think you need to study harder at.     (to this they may answer, I need to be a faster reader, I need to do something about my spelling.    I don't want to play violin any more but I want to play piano.    I don't think I am doing enough in science.)

What is your favorite "kitchen table" activity.  
  (background - we do our home school lesson book work at the kitchen table.   We do math, vocabulary, spelling workbook, creative writing.)    I ask them what their favorite thing to do - and then incorporate this in the new year or incorporate that method with a subject that is harder material.   For example,, one answer is that they like doing cross word puzzles and fill in the blanks that is used in teaching vocabulary.   so I take that into mind - and think maybe we could do cross word puzzles to study geography.       If they say they like an activity that uses scrapbooking techniques, then I incorporate scrapbooking techniques to teach other subject material.   

What would you like to see/places to visit this year?    
My kids love this question.  

By time they  have answered those questions, I basically have an education plan for the year.    I plug in math on a daily basis, and we put in some english grammar/spelling/vocabulary.   But the rest of the stuff is learning the areas that interest them.   

Then it's up to me to flesh out how to do that.     Books, videos, museums, and more help us.   Sometimes a topic is covered in a textbook, so I use the relevant chapter.   

I also find that the interview process builds excitement in them.   They get to dream about the things they want to do.  They can express their interests and that makes them very happy.    More than once I've had a child clap with glee (after the interview) and say, this year is going to be so much fun!      I'm happy about that.