My Planning Process

Observational Drawing Activities - An Everyday Story

contains affiliate linksReggio Homeschool Planning - An Everyday Story

It’s hard to get back into the swing of things, isn’t it? Christmas is such a lazy time, full of mid-morning breakfasts and afternoon naps.

But Daddy went back to work this week so I thought it would be best to get some rhythm happening again.

2015 is going to be a big year for us. We have to register for home education this year – well soon. I really should get on to that! – and so I have been thinking a lot about subject areas and skills which we need to cover this year.

We will still be following an interest-led approach and implementing Reggio principles as best I understand them but there’ll also be a few changes this year.

Observational Drawing with Watercolours - An Everyday Story

This year I have decided on a more structured weekly schedule. Jack needs structure and predictability. And I find I am more productive when I can see my day/week laid out in front of me.

I have been working on our weekly schedule throughout December; reworking it here and there to make sure we still have lots of time for play and pursuing the kids’ interests.

So this is what it looks like at the moment –  2015 Homeschool Schedule .

You’ll notice that Monday and Tuesday are a little different. I have been wanting to introduce Jack (5.5yrs) and Sarah (3.5 yrs) to music and handwork (like knitting, woodworking, sewing, that sort of thing) but wasn’t sure how since I am pretty much useless in those areas. Harsh but true.

That was until a friend introduced me to Christopherus – a Waldorf-inspired homeschool curriculum. It was not at all what I was expecting. I think I might talk about this more in another post. Let’s just say I am really looking forward to getting started.

Observational Drawing Activities - An Everyday Story

Project Work

Now on to planning. Firstly my planning is guided by Jack and Sarah’s interests. I think it has to be. I think we need to respect our children and their learning journey – it is theirs after all. A child is never going to be more fully present in their learning than when they get to pursue their own interests.

As much as possible I try to plan learning experiences around their interests.

So I ask myself, What are they interested in at the moment? and start my planning there. From there I pretty much follow this process:

  1. Decide on an area of exploration based on their interests
  2. Offer an initial provocation and initiate a discussion with Jack and Sarah. This is a key step which I will talk more about in another post. This discussion gives me so much insight into what they understand and what they want to know. I always record this discussion on my phone using the voice memos app
  3. Listen to the recording and take down notes about areas to pursue more deeply
  4. Plan an art experience (usually drawing first, then clay) for Jack and Sarah to make their learning visible
  5. Then repeat the process: Discuss, record, make notes for further areas of inquiry, set-up exploration (or learning experience) based on our conversations, discuss…record… and on it goes.

I am still working on having meaningful discussions with Jack and Sarah where I’m not trying to pry specific information out of them and instead using my questioning to deepen their thinking. After 10 years of teaching, it’s proving a hard habit to break.

I am working on it though and our conversations are definitely becoming richer and more engaging.

Atelier

Jack and Sarah spend a lot of their free time engaged in art in some way as well as during their project time. I also though wanted to schedule in some time where we could focus on developing their creative abilities and deepen their competencies with different art mediums.

I am working from The Language of Art: Reggio-Inspired Studio Practices in Early Childhood Settings and highly recommend it. I am also planning on using 3D Art Lab for Kids: 32 Hands-on Adventures in Sculpture and Mixed Media once we have finished using The Language of Art.

These art sessions will focus a lot on getting to know the materials and building a repertoire of skills through full immersing themselves in the process of creating.

Science

As much as possible I am going to extend Jack and Sarah’s project work into our science sessions. These sessions however will be a little more directed by me. I will be preparing experiments or experiences which tie into their project work.

If science doesn’t fit meaningfully into their project work, I plan to use Building Structures with Young Children. I have only recently ordered this book and am excited to get started using it. This book introduces engineering concepts through block play. It is an inquiry-based approach which I know Jack and Sarah will really enjoy.

I am looking forward to showing you more when we get started.

Maths/Language

Maths and language will be covered naturally during Project Work as well as more specifically in our Main Lessons. I also read aloud for half an hour everyday. I like to choose a novel with few pictures so Jack and Sarah can become lost in the words. We all snuggle together on my bed while I read.

Each afternoon for about 15-20 minutes, Jack works on his handwriting and sight words. It is important for him to work on these skills intentionally everyday. While he is incredibly bright, I’ve learnt that if he doesn’t work on his reading and writing everyday, he quickly loses all memory of it which causes him great frustration when he is trying to write independently.

Early Literacy Activities for Kids - An Everyday StoryAt the moment I am using a set of sight word cards which were generously given to us. Since Jack is happy to read the words and write them in his handwriting book, I don’t intend to complicate things with too many different activities. Simple is best for him.

Best Planning Book for Teachers and Homeschoolers - An Everyday StoryAnd finally, my planning book. This book is seriously awesome and I highly recommend it. It has nice wide pages and you can open them right out, so you can see a whole week easily at a glance.

It has the week days down the side and then columns which you can fill in for each area of study. It’s also undated so you can start any time of year. I love it.

So that’s it. A little bit about how I plan our days and weeks. I know there is a lot of information that I left out that I’ll have to write about in other posts.

I am looking forward to sharing our latest Project Work inquiry along with some of the voice recordings of our conversations. I would really love some advice on how to improve my role in the discussions.

But that’s for another time.

– oh and in other very exciting news, we are finally getting started on building our outdoor homeschool studio! I can not wait!!

…..

Jack’s using watercolour paints from Micador. I bought ours from Officeworks. The wooden paint holder is from Dragonfly Toys

44 Replies to “My Planning Process”

  1. Please let me know how your outdoor studio turns out! We would love to do something the same here on our tiny patch of lawn in Minnesota (chilly, northern US state).

    Thanks as well for your planning information. I am a huge planner. I just love the planning process, anticipating what comes next, and having our time all nicely organized even if it doesn’t always turn out that way. It is nice to have an example of how to plan and organize in a child-led environment.

    1. I am a huge planner too. And I really like writing things down rather than digitally. I really love thinking about what we can do and changing things around (which happens quite a bit) 🙂

      I am so excited to have a homeschool studio. It feels like we have been saving for so long that I almost can’t believe that we will start building in the next few weeks! I have so many plans in my head of how I would like to set it up. I honestly just can not wait!! 🙂

      How are things in chilly Minnesota? Buried under snow? We’re sweltering here 🙂

  2. Wow. You are so incredibly organized! It is quite inspiring. Thanks for this post.
    Love the illustration Jack is working on in the photo!

    1. Thanks Kaly 🙂 I am a bit of an over-organiser :/ My teacher colleagues use to always make fun of me for my colour-coded folders and sticky-notes. But I love it.

      Jack seems to have moved into another level of drawing in the last couple of weeks. He is really focussed on drawing quite fine details and is happy to work on a drawing over a couple of days now which he has never done before. He started one today which he has put aside to continue working on tomorrow.

      He all of a sudden seems very grown up!

  3. Thank you so much for posting this information! I’ve been looking for a good planner, and some ideas on how to go about our days. I have always admired your homeschool style, so this will be such a great help to me. Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Rachel 🙂 I really like that planner. A lot of planners I have used previously seem to have too much space for writing which I really felt was wasted because I just didn’t need to write that much. I like this one because I can see the whole week on a page but still have enough room to write what I have planned under each subject area.

      How old are your little boys? I saw that you like Charlotte Mason. I am wondering whether I should look into Charlotte Mason a little…or whether we have enough of an eclectic mix going on already :/

  4. I Love how you are coming up with a plan that works best for your family. Christophers is really great too. I know you are going to have a wonderful year.

    1. I was really surprised with how excited I got about the Christopherus curriculum. I never really saw us using a curriculum but I didn’t know how to approach music and handwork and this curriculum seemed just so gentle and open and inspiring.

      Plus it’s not prescriptive at all, like I was expecting from a curriculum. It’s more about inspiration and guidance, isn’t it?

  5. I am new to homeschooling and have been doing much research and reflecting to figure out how to best approach the journey. Your posts by far have been the most inspirational and genuine thoughts I have come across…I think we would be dear friends if we didn’t live thousands of miles apart! Thank you from Texas!

    1. Funny you should say that Angela, I think Texans and Australians have a lot in common 🙂 I have met a few ex-pat Americans and the ones I really connect with have been from Texas.

      And thank you so much for your very kind words 🙂 How old are your little ones?

  6. Fabulous Kate! And we sound very similar. Hubby is back at work next week so we are starting then. This week I have been working on sorting out our rhythm. I feel like we lost it last year with a new baby which is to be expected so I’m looking forward to things being more organised and predictable. Miss 5 has asked to learn to sew so we will be doing that this year too. I like the sound of that art book. We do art every day and I need some new ideas!

    1. Absolutely to be expected! And with one so squishable, how could you not?! But I can completely understand. Last year was incredible, but I really feel like we need more structure and predictability this year.

  7. One of my goals for the next few months is to experiment and find a schedule that works for us. Thanks for sharing what works for you and inspiring me with a few ideas. I would love to see some examples of your weekly schedules, and look forward to your post on your project work!
    For your Waldorf-inspired curriculum, what topics are you doing for your Main Lessons, and how does that work with Lesson A and Lesson B. Off to read the Christopherus site to learn more…

    1. Hi Kara. There are three topics for the main lessons – language, maths and nature studies. For Lesson A, the kids will do music (learn the recorder), painting, cooking and form drawing. For Lesson B, they’ll be doing handwork (knitting), baking and gardening.

      Lots of lovely learning ahead of us 🙂

  8. Great post, lots of ideas I can use, as ever! Where did you get the paint holders in the photos? I’ve tried searching online but can’t find anything similar. They look so handy

    1. Hi Sarah. I bought the paint holders from Dragonfly Toys.

      Here’s the link: http://www.dragonflytoys.com.au/shop/create/childrens-art-materials/Wooden-Paint-Holder-with-Glass-Jars/

      They have been so great. I like that I can keep watercolours made up now. And when you have a brush in each one, the paints don’t get all mixed up either.

  9. Melissa Kate says:

    I’m intrigued by the Main Lesson and Lesson A then Lesson B as well. Do these follow on from each other – is this something from the Waldorf method? I’ve been thinking of starting form drawing with my 6 year old soon. He is struggling with letter formation, flow and fluency so thought this might get his whole body feeling it better. … Love your posts Kate. They are always so inspiring and thought provoking. Truly my favourite blog. <3

    1. Yep I’m still learning about the Waldorf approach to education but the Main Lesson, Lesson A and Lesson B are all separate.

      In the Main Lesson, we’ll do language, maths and nature studies. In Lesson A we’ll do music, painting and cooking. And in Lesson B we’ll do knitting, gardening and seasonal crafts.

      I plan to use it as inspiration though and change it up a little to suit Jack and Sarah’s interests but as it stands at the moment, they are interested in all that is covered this year – they love painting, gardening and cooking – so I think it will be a really nice fit for us.

      I’ve just bought a form drawing book too for Jack. He wants to write but he struggles with remembering stroke order and so becomes really frustrated. So we are going to try some form drawing too. He loves drawing as you know so I am hoping that these creative exercises will help develop the muscle memory that he needs to improve his handwriting.

      I am not planning on starting Christopherus until February so I have a bit of time to learn more about Waldorf before then. But I am excited to get started.

      1. Melissa Kate says:

        Thanks so much for the elaboration on the Waldorf approach Kate. Really appreciate it. I’ll be watching your blog with heartfelt interest – it always leads me to new discoveries for our own home learning. 🙂 Thank you!

  10. what amazing, vibrant-looking paints! I’d love to know what Jack is using!

    1. They are really vibrant, aren’t they? I buy Micador watercolours because I find they are the most vibrant and really hold the paper well. These ones are Micador Watercolour Paint Tubes. We have the 18 pack.

      Here’s the link for you: http://partners.micador.com.au/Product/793/Micador-Watercolour-Paint-Tube-Sets

  11. You have inspired me to start setting up art invitation for my 3.5yo for our afternoon time. I ordered the Language of Art & I can’t wait to get started. My older kids are 8 & 10- it made me realize I’ve got to enjoy the few little kid years I have left with him.

    1. It’s such a great book and perfect for your 3.5 year old. I like especially how it gives really clear suggestions on how to talk to children about their art rather than always saying, that’s wonderful, good job, that sort of thing.

      It’s one of my favourite art books for sure.

  12. Alison - The Way He Plays says:

    I love the simplicity of your schedule, it looks so calm and relaxed compared to any I have had as a classroom teacher. I can imagine lots of deep learning coming from it for you all this year. I am looking forward to reading more about your music and handwork studies. 🙂

  13. Thanks for your inspiring posts!!!! All the great info and that you share the resources that you use. I am so inspired by what you do and how you approach homeschooling. All the best for the year ahead.

  14. Hi Kate! I’ve always wondered how you run into these great resources and where you find the time! Thank you for sharing them all with us! What I’m struggling with is trying to juggle three kids (4, 2, 1) and homeschool at the same time, not to mention all the mommy responsibilities around the house. If you have any advice when it comes to teaching multiple kids, I would love to hear it.

    Thank you for your blog.

  15. I love the idea of discussing and recording. I wish you had older children so I could see how it will look later. I love your approach but get lost after the discussion part. My son is 12 and has a huge appetite for time with me. He can go from 9 AM to 9 PM and require most of that time from me. He doesn’t like working independently. Because of this we supplement with co-op two days a week. I need direction on how to do things with him based on some kind of plan. I need the plan so I can plan ahead. But, it just doesn’t happen and I fall back on curriculum which I hate. I just get really distracted and wish I could have some loose plan to follow.

  16. Allison Graham says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading about the gentle ways you are adjusting your lives to fit whatever is going to work, that you’re not afraid to try something new, or to admit that something doesn’t work, and try again. You’ve done more structured, then less structured, and now this seems like something in the middle. Love it! 🙂

  17. This is wonderful Kate! It’s so encouraging to read how you plan using an interest-led approach and take into account your children’s individual needs. Love it!

  18. Zurich Barry says:

    How awesome!!

  19. Hi Kate,
    Thank you so much for this post! I requested it on your IG account and it is so wonderful and inspiring! I have been thinking of purchasing a curriculum and have been considering Lavender’s Blue, which is also Waldorf. I look forward to all the other posts stemming from this one as I am learning so much for you. Best wishes.

  20. “from” you– excuse me!

  21. What a lovely post. So much good stuff to think about and try. 🙂 I found you through a FB link from Simple Homeschool today…I will definitely be back!

  22. I have never commented on a blog post before but had to today as I have been reading your blog for 12 months now and I can’t believe how much your homeschooling journey has mirrored my own. I too am introducing a little waldorf to our child-led homeschooling for our sons first “official” year of school, but I have chosen a different curriculum for inspiration so I am looking forward to seeing how Christopherus looks at your home over the coming year.

    1. Hi Zoe 🙂 Well I am so glad that you paused to say hi. It is lovely to meet you. It is always nice meeting people who share a similar path to ours.

      I know there is Oak Meadow and Blue Lavender which both look quite nice too. Did you choose one of those two?

      Do you know much about Waldorf? I am still learning. I think I understand the basic tenets but there is still a lot of me to learn. It’s really beautiful though, isn’t it?

      I really like the emphasis on learning to work with your hands and being connected to what you are doing; whether it’s painting, drawing, baking, knitting, music or working in the garden. And the emphasis on simplicity.

      I know there is still a lot to learn but from what I have seen and read so far, I am feeling very inspired.

  23. I’d love to see inside your planning book!

  24. Dear Kate,

    Your posts are amazing, I found you through instagram and you really inspire! Thank you for explaing so well your planning process. My son was also born in 2011, but he still has a lack for attention, when I try to introduce an activity to him he just goes away… and I try to offer him thorugh his iterests. You may have mor experiencie in the teaching area to attract your children to new themes. How do you do?
    Claudia
    Barcelona-Spain

  25. Hi, as a fellow Aussie I’m wondering whether you actually buy your books through Amazon, or whether you just link for convenience? I love Amazon’s prices…right until I encounter their shipping prices! (Especially since, last I checked they don’t combine postage)

    1. Hi Christine. I do usually. I tend to put things in my cart and then order maybe every couple of months when I might have a few other materials and things in there too. If you buy through Amazon stockists they combine shipping but there are some companies on there which aren’t fulfilled by Amazon and yeah the postage is crazy! Friends of mine also order through Book Depository – it’s more expensive but they have free shipping.

  26. Hi Kate!
    I really look forward to reading your posts whenever they appear in my inbox! It seriously excites my day!

    I’m wondering how your year is going planning-wise? It’s almost September now and we’re just about to start school in the States. I’m wondering how your year is going and if you have been able to do what you’ve mentioned from this post? You seemed to have had ideas and back up ideas since this was the year you needed to register your learning. How has inquiry and the Reggio “emergent/interest led curriculum” played out this year so far? Overall, I’m just curious if you can reflect or write a post that relates back to this one as you started your “official” homeschool year with your children. So curious! Thank you very much! 🙂

    1. Hi Corinna 🙂 Thank you so much for your lovely comments. You know, I was just planning my next post to be a follow up to this one, so you are one step ahead of me. Things have changed a little bit (but not too much). I mostly still take an emergent approach but I have changed the structure of our days a little bit. I’m hoping to have the post finished this week – hopefully Thursday 🙂

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