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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.
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.
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:
- Decide on an area of exploration based on their interests
- 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
- Listen to the recording and take down notes about areas to pursue more deeply
- Plan an art experience (usually drawing first, then clay) for Jack and Sarah to make their learning visible
- 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.
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.
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 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.
At 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.
And 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!!