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Planning for the new year

This past weekend we spent a lot of time organizing our homeschool stuff and throwing out a lot of old papers. OLD papers. Papers that originated in Virginia, where we haven’t lived since February 2007. Out with the old, in with …well, not a lot new.


I guess technically I’m “planning” our upcoming school year, except we aren’t making any big curriculum changes. In a lot of ways, I think we’re absolutely on track. I have a peace about our education philosophy and our curriculum choices. I’m not chasing the “perfect curriculum” unicorn, but tweaking what we’ve decided on to make it work best for us. And since we don’t really do a traditional school year, but just keep plugging away — albeit more laid back in the summer. We aren’t even starting the next level of most of our lessons in September. In fact, most of the planning has to do with my thought processes.

Despite never having put our kids in public schools, never having to do the whole “deschooling” process, I still struggle with tendencies toward institutionalized thought and practice.  I am a product of public education, and I’m still sorting out my thoughts on education and learning and schooling, even after 8 years of homeschooling. For example, why was I holding on to first-grade math sheets? Do I really need them as proof my daughter knows her addition facts?

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Pruning is probably the best description of what I want to do: cutting away dead wood so that the entire plant will be stronger.  I think over the years I’ve accepted a lot of things as “Things homeschoolers must do.” I don’t even realize how much I’ve internalized some of those beliefs. Only this past year have I finally rid myself of the “must produce a project, worksheet, or other visual representation for everything they’ve learned.” Because nothing says learning like a lapbook!

Nobody in our family likes lapbooks. It’s just busywork better presented. (For us. If you or your kids like lapbooks and find them helpful, more power to ya!) In fact, my boys — being boys — hate pretty much any coloring sheet, connect the dots, word search, or other method of torture I can dream up. They do like narrating with Legos. Plus, when you’re done, just deconstruct the project and toss it in the bins to be reused for the next fun story.

Overall, I’m working more at pruning away fluff to get at the meat: more living books, more narration, more real tools, real tasks, and real relationships; less twaddle of every kind. At least, that’s the plan.

2 responses to “Planning for the new year”

  1. Alisha Avatar

    Since I’m new at this, is this something I should expect every year? I’m seriously going through this same process right now!

    1. April Avatar

      Pretty much. Fall is like New Years for homeschoolers: rethinking the old, looking for the new. I think it’s good to re-evaluate. The one pitfall is getting caught up in the chase for the perfect curriculum. If what you’re using works, I’d stick with it. (The corollary to that is don’t be afraid to ditch a curriculum that ISN’T working for your people, no matter who else is using it or how “wonderful” it is.)

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