I say I am planning but really I think my form of planning and what most people think I do is vastly different. I never do detailed plans – we need to do pages x on this day – because it does not work for us and I know that would end up stressing me out. I like to spend as long as the kids want on a topic and I also like to have the flexibility of following new interests as they arise so being tied down to a detailed plan just does not work.
I need to plan our basic week so it works for us – what regular weekly activities are the kids doing, do we have space in the week to fit in our trips and workshops? It sounds straightforward but I need to build in some down time. In the next few months my daughter is going to have a crazy busy Wednesday (by her choice) but I know that means I can not schedule a busy Thursday morning, it is going to be better to keep Thursdays free and that way we can stay home or we can go out with friends if we want to. I am already thinking Thursdays will probably be a good art day for us.
I also like to have a visual Monthly calendar where I can see which extra workshops / outings we are planning on doing – again it is a good way of trying to space out our activities (I like spreading out our trips into London as they tend to be very full days for the kids) and as I start filling in dates I always start seeing “learning themes” coming through. (I also like to slot in my work deadlines on the Monthly Calender). The calendar in the picture is from Activity Village – 2018 Calendar.
My daughter wants to do a Roman Walk in September and a possible Roman workshop. Plus there is a Fictional story based in Roman times that she has on her list of books she wants to read – so already I am guessing we are going to be going back and revisiting the Ancient Romans again, although this time it will be more about the Romans in Britain.
So when I have an idea of a possible topic I do a quick brainstorm – what resources do I think we would like to use – are there books I can reserve at our library, are there fictional stories we can read and what activities can we include. It is very rough but it helps me think about the topic and also decide if I would like to buy extra resources for the house. (The photo below is the one I am busy doing for Romans in Britain – As I find books that I think might be good I add them to my list)
Pinterest is also great for this – I love creating visual boards filled with topic ideas.
For Science I know we are going to spend some time on electric circuits (A request from both kids) so I am already searching, reading reviews looking for a good kit to buy.
Maths we are more structured (I tend to use workbooks and then we add extra practice as we think needed) but having said that I still like to let the kids spend as much time as they need on a Maths Topic. So we tend to work on a topic like Geometry or Fractions for a few months before we move on.
For English we are going to have an emphasis on writing. My daughter’s reading has really taken off the last few months and as a result she has started writing book summaries. So we want to work on that. Expand her writing – improve her summarizing skills and work on creative writing. My youngest we need to work on improving his hand writing and just having fun with writing (I am think of doing more Calligrams and creative lettering with him).
So really my planning is more accurately – GOAL SETTING and resource brainstorming.
It helps me as I feel like we have a broad outline and I can think of activities and resources ahead of time which prevents late night searching and late night buying which is often not clever buying.
I also have a good idea of what the kids are interested in (although they do always surprise me with new topics) but I know my daughter wants to learn a lot more about History and my son wants to learn DETAIL about Reptiles and Amphibians. So I know that if I do buy books on History topics or Reptiles they will be used, they might not get read in the exact week I buy them, they might sit on out shelf for a month or two but I know that at some stage over the next few months the kids will dig them out and read them, discuss what the books says and if it is a good book go back to it again and again.
My way of planning is one that works for us (both me and the kids) but like all things in home education it is never going to be the exact same for other families.