This is our 9th year of homeschooling, if you count kindergarten. Of course, as any parent can tell you, kids start learning in utero and turn their wide eyes toward the sound of daddy’s voice the moment they hear it unfiltered by the lub-lub of mom’s heart. Then there’s the walking and talking and shoving things up their noses of pre-school years.
But officially, we started nine years ago.
Now, if there’s one (non-profane) word to describe me it’s “planner.” I like to plan. I like lists. My lists have lists, and those lists are arranged on a handy chart. Laminated. I like to plan.
However, every time I’ve tried to have a strict schedule for our homeschool, I’ve failed. 45 minute, structured classes work well — in fact, are indispensable — when dealing with a large school and classes of 20 to 30 kids. For a homeschool? It’s as nutty as having a bell to mark the change of classes. So my from 9:15 to 9:45 we will do history and then transition to math after a 10-minute break was a fool’s dream. A lovely, color-coded, laminated dream.
The strict structure of traditional schools is great for traditional schools, but as I’ve said in the past, school is a building. We don’t go there.
Homeschooling is an entirely different animal. The strength of homeschool is the ability to be flexible and tailored not only to individual children but also to individual moments.
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The paradox is that if you homeschool without a plan, you’re asking for trouble. As the saying goes, if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
So we need a plan, goals, a routine, and a structure. People, whether young or old, work better with routine. But we also need to be able to step back and say, “This isn’t getting done today,” and move on. Particularly if a child is struggling with a concept, a strict schedule or inflexible plan can be deadly. A homeschooled child should never really “behind” because who are they behind? Themselves? But they all have steep hills that take longer to climb and long plateaus that might seem endless. They aren’t endless, but I know they feel that way. Shoving a child up that hill or over that plateau only gets us further along in our plan, not in his education.
And of course, homeschoolers are educating right in the middle of life, with all its messy twists and turns. If teacher and 2/3s of the student body are paying homage to the porcelain god, math gets backburnered and lessons in compassion and laundry take a front row. And the plan? Pull out the eraser, the plan is getting an overhaul. Projects get scuttled and audiobooks get substituted for read alouds. Documentaries may have bigger roles than you’d ever admit at homeschool park day.
And that’s the key. Plan. Have fun with color coded charts and big dreams of sugar cubed pyramids, but plan in pencil.
How do you plan your year? Are you still on track, or have you already made alterations?